Car Accident Injury FAQs: How Long Does It Take To Get An Insurance Check?
How long does it take to get an insurance check after being injured in an accident (and how should you pay your bills in the meantime)?
That’s a question that many injured accident victims ask after someone else’s negligence has resulted in their injury.
Unfortunately, this question is being asked frequently – statistics show that every single second, an American is accidentally injured, and every three minutes, an American is killed by a preventable event. Accidental injury has actually become the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Being injured in an accident is not only devastating physically, but also financially, a fact that injured accident victims discover soon after being hurt. Depending on the extent of their injuries, victims may have to pay for the costs of expensive medical treatment. Bills for things like ambulatory transport, emergency room care, imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs, surgeries, hospitalization, medications, medical devices, physical therapy, chiropractic care, copays, deductibles, and more can quickly add up to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. On top of juggling these costs, you may be out of work for weeks or months while you recover, and you might not be getting paid or not be getting paid as much until you return; your other living expenses like your mortgage/rent and grocery bills remain the same. The burden of medical expenses and lost wages can be tremendous.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault, you shouldn’t have to bear this burden alone – either your own insurance company or the insurance company of the person responsible for your injuries should pay. How long it takes to get your insurance check depends on several factors specific to your case, including the route you take to obtain it. A quicker insurance check also may not necessarily be the best result if your injuries are worth a substantial amount. However, you do have options, and there are also steps you can take to get financial relief in the meantime.
Understanding the difference between PIP claims and personal injury claims, and how long it takes to get compensation when you take these avenues
In Florida, all drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance, also known as PIP or no fault insurance (because regardless of whether or not you were at fault, you can still get an insurance check this way). If you’re injured in an accident, you are required to go through your PIP coverage first to receive benefits and compensation. When you file a PIP claim, Florida law requires it to be either approved and paid or denied within 30 days. You could get your insurance check within one month of filing your claim! It’s a fast way to get compensated, but it’s not necessarily the most effective resolution, because PIP doesn’t cover all of your expenses. This type of insurance only covers up to 80% of approved medical treatment costs for emergencies, $2,500 of approved medical treatment costs for non-emergencies, 60% of lost income, and $5,000 in death benefits. You also have a deductible to meet for any claim you file.
The more serious your injuries are, the less getting a PIP insurance check in 30 days will solve your financial stresses. Imagine you were injured in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in $100,000 worth of medical bills, and you missed three months of work to heal, missing out on $6,000 worth of paychecks. If your deductible was $1,000, that would need to be paid first, and then your PIP coverage would pay the remainer of covered costs. When you crunch the numbers, you would only get paid roughly 76,000 out of the $106,000 you incurred, leaving you with about $30,500 to pay out of pocket!
That’s why most injured accident victims choose to also file a claim with the insurance company of the person or party responsible for their accident. This route is much more complex, which is why it is in your best interests to hire a personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the process and fight for you to recover full damages. Your insurance check could potentially cover the costs of medical bills and lost wages that exceed your PIP coverage, amounts for intangible costs like pain and suffering, and even property damages or punitive damages. However, the insurance company is not likely to pay out your claim unless you have a lawyer, and recovering damages via the legal system can be a slow process. Negotiations will occur; the insurance company may offer a fast settlement, but it will likely be lower than the settlement that could be achieved through further negotiations. It could take months, or over a year, for your lawyer to settle with the insurance company for a fair, mutually agreeable amount that reflects your financial needs. If your case ends up going to trial, it will likely be much longer before you see an insurance check, potentially years because of how long preparing for a trial can take. In either situation – whether you win at trial or agree to settle – after your case is resolved, it can still take up to six weeks or a little longer for you to receive your insurance check. Getting compensation this way takes longer, but may result in a higher amount that completely covers the costs you sustained in the accident.
Other factors besides the route you take to pursue compensation and whether or not your case goes to trial that could influence how long it will take you to get an insurance check after being injured include:
- Issues with the bank or check clearing delays
- The value of your claim – the more money at stake, the longer it will take to reach a settlement or get approved
- How easy it is to prove liability – if there’s confusion or a lack of clarity over who was at fault, or whether you were partially at fault, then the case could drag on longer
- How long it takes for your injuries to reach “maximum medical improvement”, a standard by which further treatment wouldn’t improve your condition. You can’t fully calculate the value of your injuries until all of your immediate surgeries, etc. are complete, so most insurance companies will wait to begin negotiations until you’ve reached this stage. If you were disabled by the accident, your situation will be different.
What can you do to get financial relief until you get your insurance check?
Because obtaining an insurance check via a personal injury claim can take months or years, you’ll need to find another source of financial compensation in order to pay your bills. There are a few options available to you.
As mentioned above, you can make a claim through your PIP coverage to get some of the amount that you deserve quickly. If you were injured in an accident at work, you can also make a claim for worker’s compensation. As long as you are working with an attorney, you can look into taking out a pre-litigation loan, which can give you a percentage of your expected settlement immediately; however, beware of high interest rates. Some doctors and hospitals may be willing to treat you with an agreement that they will get paid from your future settlement.
The right attorney can help you understand these options and more, handle all of the paperwork for you, and guide you every step of the way until you get the insurance check you deserve. At The Florida Law Group, we’ve recovered over $1 billion dollars for injured accident victims across the state. Call today for a free consultation! You never pay unless you win, and we can explain how we may be able to help you achieve a faster, larger settlement!