How Long Does Car Accident Case Take to Settle in California?

Samuel Nordean, ESQ. Founding partner of Nordean Law, APC
Samuel Nordean, ESQ. Founding partner of Nordean Law, APC

Samuel ‘Sam’ Nordean is a founding partner of Nordean Law, APC. He is passionate about standing up for people who struggle with accidental injuries and mistreatment from insurance companies. He has a Bachelor's and Master of Science degrees in Biochemistry from Portland State University. He got his Juris Doctor degree from Chapman University School of Law. Sam started Nordean Law to commit to helping people who cannot fight for themselves. His strengths are in representing car accident, fatal accidents, negligence cases, and liability accidents.

Car accidents can be upsetting. Fighting for your rights in court along with your physical and mental recovery is certainly challenging. Recieving justice is always a worry, but not knowing how long a car accident case will take only adds to the stress of the experience.

The State of California has car accident laws that require victims be fully compensated. But it can become a challenge to prove that you are the victim of someone else’s negligence. That is why you need a car accident lawyer.

Nordean Law understands the stress you are under. Our law practitioners have years of experience in successfully handling car accident cases like yours.

Book a free consultation today to learn more about our services.

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California Accident Lawsuit Process And Timeline

The lawsuit process and timeline in California depends on various factors. It is alwaysa good idea to be aware of your rights and obligations, so you have the knowhow of what to do and what not to do after a car accident For the best results, follow the below steps:

  1. Report the incident to the police and your insurance company.
  2. Take visible photos and videos of the scene.
  3. Seek medical attention.
  4. Collect as much evidence as you can, such as police reports and witness statements.
  5. Contact a personal injury lawyer for a consultation.

Car accident settlements do not have one specific pathway but the general practice in settling a car accident claim in California typically involve the following steps:

  1. Report the accident and any injuries to your insurance provider.
  2. Negotiations for a settlement payout will then occur, but insurance companies may try to offer the lowest amount possible.
  3. To avoid being taken advantage of, it’s advisable to seek a personal injury attorney’s guidance and refrain from engaging in conversation with insurance adjusters without proper preparation.
  4. Your lawyer may send a demand letter if the initial settlement offer is inadequate. If no agreement can be reached, you’ll need to file a claim against the responsible party and inform them of your intention to sue.
  5. If a settlement still cannot be reached, the matter may proceed to court, where you and your car injury lawyer can present your case to a jury.

Factors Affecting the Settlement Timeline

Case settlement in California can sometimes conclude in weeks but a year or more is more common. It all depends on how hard the defendant fights the case. Furthermore, the time it will take to settle a car accident depends on the following factors:

Car Accident Cause Determination

To get an insurance settlement for your car accident in California, you first must figure out what caused the accident. This means you have to know who is responsible before you can claim with their insurance company.

The state of California sets provisional rules for individuals who violate the state laws or drive in a negligent manner. Such provisional drivers are called for hearings under California Vehicle Code (CVC) §12814.6 (c) in cases where they get involved in an accident.

Shared Responsibility

Investigating the injury claim can take longer if multiple people are involved in a car accident. According to California’s pure comparative negligence law, the blame is split between all responsible people. The insurance companies will only agree to pay a final settlement after assigning a percentage of fault to each person involved.

The Severity of Your Car Accident Claim

Car accident claims involving serious injuries take longer to settle. Understanding how the injury will affect you in the future is crucial to determine fair compensation. In addition, getting a doctor’s opinion on the need for future medical care is important before demanding fair compensation.

It might involve experts with different specializations like economics, life planning, rehabilitation, etc. This process may affect the case’s settlement timeline.

Non-Economic Damages

In California, personal injury laws allow car accident victims to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.

Calculating the value of economic damages is typically straightforward as they have clear costs.

However, non-economic damages are more subjective and may not have a specific price tag. And if the insurance company disputes the value of these subjective losses, the settlement process may take longer.

Types of Car Accident Settlements

Fault-Based Settlements

In California, the driver deemed responsible for causing the accident is obligated to pay for the damages because California follows a fault-based system. Consequently, the at-fault driver or their insurance company compensates the victim for their losses in this type of settlement.

No-fault Settlements

California doesn’t have a completely no-fault system, but it provides an alternative option for drivers to purchase no-fault insurance coverage. This type of settlement allows the victim to receive compensation from their insurance company, irrespective of who is responsible for the accident. It’s important to note that no-fault insurance coverage is not mandatory in California, and it’s not a widely used option.

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How Long Does It Usually Take To Settle A California Car Accident Case?

Each case is unique, and it is inpractical to generally denote a precise timeframe within which a car accident case can be settled. However, certain factors do determine the timeing , such as whether the other driver claims you were at fault, the severity of your injuries, the insurance company’s willingness to settle, etc.

For instance, the timing differs when the defendant is a government entity. According to the California Government Code Section 905 and Section 911.2 statue of limitations, individuals must file a personal injury or personal property damage compaint directly with the applicable agency within six months of the date of the injury.

On the other hand, if your claim is against a private individual, you can file a lawsuit directly without taking this extra step. However, in either case, you must bring a lawsuit within two years of the accident unless an exception applies.

In cases against a government entity the government has 45 days to respond to your initial complaint.

If the government agency denies your claim, you must file a lawsuit in court within six months from the date of the denial letter. they were denied the initial claim.

But if the rejection letter is not provided, one has two years to file for a lawsuit counting from the date the incident occurred. However, we strongly advise against waiting two years to file the lawsuit.

It is best to consult with a car accident lawyer to ensure you have a strong case on your behalf with complete compliance.

If your case goes to trial, it can take several years to resolve.

Once the lawsuit is filed, your attorney has 30- to 60 days to serve the defendant, and the defendant has 30 days to answer the lawsuit.

After a lawsuit is filed, the timeline is partly governed by deadlines set by the court. And apart from some court-mandated deadlines, most cases take a similar amount of time to conclude and are influenced by the severity of the injuries and the insurer’s cooperation.

With careful evaluation, your attorney can estimate how long the case might take.

Do You Need A Lawyer To Accelerate Your Settlement Recovery?

Car accidents are an everyday occurance on busy California streets. They are unfortunate events that possess unwanted and daunting consequences. At such stressful times, handling your daily affairs along with managing a lawsuit is the last thing you want to worry about. With Nordean Law, you know the legal aspect of your injury is handled, and you can focus on getting better.

Acquiring a legal guidance ensures that you will have a smooth and stresss-free recovery from your traumiting experience, without worrying about the court matters. Most importantly, it ensures that you recieve the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.

If you need help navigating the settlement process quickly, Nordean Law is here to assist you. Their skilled attorneys have the expertise to gather evidence, communicate with insurance companies, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. They also offer legal advice and handle all the necessary paperwork for filing a claim or pursuing a lawsuit.

With Nordean Law by your side, you can concentrate on recovering from the accident while they take care of the legal aspects of your case.


Being severely injured from a car accident tests your character, patience and will. Not only your road to recovery but also the deserved justice can sometimes be hindered by recurring court processes. A reputable attorney expertly represents your case and increase the chances of receiving maximum compensation.

The exact time frame required to settle a car accident case depends on its unique circumstances. Acquiring services of a reputable law firm like Nordean Law smooths your case and eliminates worries while ensuring you get the maximum compensation.

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