How Long Does A Rear-end Accident Claim Take To Settle?

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.

BY
Jen Royer, Paralegal & Lead Trainer

Rear-end auto accident cases with clear liability and only one or two victims with minor injuries often settle within 3 to 6 months after medical treatment is complete. However, more serious rear-end accidents that result in multiple injured parties or parties with moderate to severe injuries can take longer to settle.

The amount of time it takes to settle a car accident case will ultimately vary depending on the type of injuries, the involvement of a commercial vehicle and their insurance company, and the size of the accident. At Brown & Crouppen Law Firm, we understand that no two cases are the same and that there are many factors that can influence a claim and settlement. Getting started with your case is easy. Call (888) 801-4736 or request a free case evaluation online. And remember, our auto accident attorneys operate on a contingency-fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs or legal fees.

CTA popup six things to do after an auto accident
CTA popup six things to do after an auto accident
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN
AUTO ACCIDENT
CHECKLIST

Factors that Impact the Timeline of a Rear-End Accident Case

When dealing with a rear-end collision, some key factors that can influence the settlement timeline include:

  1. The injuries sustained and the course of medical treatment;
  2. The number of injured parties involved and severity of all injuries;
  3. The severity of the accident itself and any special circumstances;
  4. The location of the accident; and
  5. The insurance companies involved, or lack thereof.

Note: Rear-end crashes are the most frequently occurring type of collision, and they account for about 29% of all crashes. In most cases, the most common cause of rear-end accidents are due to distracted driving.

1. Injuries Sustained and the Course of Medical Treatment

The severity and the length of time a person is treated for their injuries are some of the most significant factors in the length of time it takes for any personal injury claim to settle. In many cases, especially with a rear-end collision, an insurance company may try to settle the bodily injury claim right away and have the injured party sign a Release of Liability. A Release will close the claim and prevent the injured person from seeking additional compensation later. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help a person decide if early settlement is right for their circumstances.

If a person has been injured in an automobile accident, it is often not in their best interest to settle a claim while still receiving medical treatment for their injuries. Many attorneys will recommend an injured party complete medical treatment before attempting to settle. Treatment for injuries sustained in a rear-end collision can take anywhere from a few weeks or months up to several years, depending on the severity of the injury and the course of treatment necessary. For instance, relatively simple soft-tissue injuries to the neck or back requiring basic chiropractic care take, on average, two to three months of treatment for the injured person to reach “maximum medical improvement,” which is a term used by medical professionals to describe when a person’s recovery is as good as it will get.

When a person is injured in a rear-end auto accident, seemingly minor back and neck injuries are very common injuries after an accident. Many people do not realize how badly they are injured until several days after the accident when the pain remains. It is important for any person injured in a rear-end collision to seek medical treatment as soon as possible so a medical professional can evaluate them and determine if the injuries sustained are minor, involving bumps, bruises, sprains, and strains, or if there is something more serious going on. A proper evaluation by a trained medical professional can help determine an appropriate course of treatment for optimal recovery.

Once medical treatment is complete, the injured party’s medical records and bills should be collected and sent to the insurance company. This process can take up to several weeks, depending on how many medical providers treat the injured person and how responsive they are to records requests. Attempting to settle a claim without proper medical documentation can result in a significantly lower settlement amount.

2. Number of Injured Parties and Severity of All Injuries

Another factor that can significantly impact the length of time it takes for an injured person to reach a settlement is the number of people who were injured in the accident along with the severity of everyone’s injuries. Automobile insurance policies have coverage limits. This means there is a set amount of money available to compensate someone who has been injured. Most states have a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage required. In Missouri, every vehicle must have a minimum of $25,000 per injured person with a total cap of $50,000 to be paid out for any single accident. This means if the driver responsible for an accident only has the minimum amount of insurance Missouri requires, the most any one injured person can receive is $25,000, and the total maximum amount the insurance company will pay out to everyone who has been injured is $50,000, regardless of how many people were involved. When an insurance company agrees to pay out the total available amount of funds to a person or for an accident, this is referred to as “tendering limits.”

Many rear-end collisions involve a chain reaction where multiple vehicles are involved. One car rear-ends another, pushing that vehicle into a third, and so on. In these cases, the person driving the vehicle that started the chain reaction is usually considered responsible for the injuries sustained by each person involved, regardless of which vehicle each injured person occupied. The responsible person’s insurance company will often tender limits right away, and it is up to each injured person and/or their attorney(s) to agree on how the insurance money is to be divided. This can be a very lengthy process, sometimes involving a mediator or a judge, especially if there are several injured people with varying injury severity. Even a person who sustained very minor injuries may have to wait until everyone who was injured has completed their medical treatment before a settlement is reached.

3. Severity of the Accident and Any Special Circumstances

Sometimes, the length of time it takes for an injured person to reach a settlement from a rear-end auto accident can depend on the severity of the accident and if there are any special circumstances. For instance, if the number of people injured is such that each injured person could receive the full per-person insurance limit, any one injured person could settle their claim without waiting for all injured parties to complete medical treatment. Quick compensation can also happen if a person’s injuries are severe enough to warrant a full per-person limit settlement without much medical evidence required. Typically an injured party can settle their claim quickly when they sustain a very serious injury and there is an insurance policy with a lower coverage amount. It can take longer for an injured person to be compensated when their injuries are relatively minor and there is more than enough insurance coverage available to fully compensate them for their injuries.

Special circumstances of an accident can also impact the length of time it takes for an injured person to reach a settlement. Settlement time can be affected in cases where police did not respond or there was no police report made. Sometimes, insurance companies will not settle a claim if the responsible person is facing criminal charges until the criminal case has been resolved. Alternatively, some insurance companies prefer to quickly settle before a criminal case is resolved.

Other circumstances that can affect the length of time it takes for an injured person to receive compensation can include drug or alcohol involvement and if there is a potential claim against a person or business other than the responsible driver, texting and driving, the availability of dash cam or surveillance video of the crash, and if there is any question of whether the driver of the vehicle that was rear-ended did something to cause another vehicle to hit them. While most rear-end accidents are straightforward, sometimes there is more to the story. When there are unusual circumstances involved in a rear-end auto accident, it is in an injured person’s best interest to consult with a personal injury attorney who specializes in rear-end collisions.

4. Location of the Accident

The state in which an accident occurred can also be a factor in the length of time it takes for an injured party to reach a settlement. When an auto accident occurs, each state imposes a “Statute of Limitations,” which is the length of time an injured person is allowed to bring a claim against the responsible driver. In Missouri, the auto accident Statute of Limitations is usually 5 years from the occurrence. 

This means the claim has to be settled, or a lawsuit has to be filed against the responsible driver, within five years of the date of the accident. There are circumstances that can change the Statute of Limitations, including whether the injured person is under the age of 18, if the responsible driver was working at the time of the crash (especially if they are a government or other municipal employee), and additional claims related to alcohol intoxication of the responsible driver. An auto accident attorney can answer questions about the Statute of Limitations.

5. Involvement of Insurance Companies

Another major factor in determining the length of time it can take for an injured party to reach a settlement from a rear-end auto accident is insurance involvement. As with any industry, each insurance company works differently, and some companies push for quick settlement while others want to have all of the information to carefully evaluate before making a settlement offer. There are companies that are easier to work with than others. Some insurance adjusters are involved and responsive during settlement negotiations, while others drag their feet. Certain companies are known to reach a settlement with an injured party within days of a claim being made while others require weeks or even months of negotiation.

Not only does the insurance company of the responsible driver play a role in the length of time it takes to resolve a claim, but the injured person’s own insurance company and available coverage can become a factor. Sometimes, an injured person can make a claim on their own auto insurance policy in addition to a claim against the responsible driver. Some insurance policies contain “no-fault coverage.” This is coverage available under an injured person’s own auto insurance policy, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Coverages can include medical payments coverage (this is to assist with medical bills incurred as a result of any auto accident, regardless of circumstances and fault), uninsured motorist coverage (this is for situations where another driver who has no insurance coverage is responsible for an accident), and underinsured motorist coverage (this is for situations when a responsible driver’s insurance limits are insufficient to cover an injured person’s total damages). If a person is unsure of the coverages they have available under their own insurance, they should review their policy or speak with their insurance agent. A personal injury attorney can also help with this. 

Finally, a lack of insurance coverage all around can impact the time it takes for an injured person to settle a claim if they are able to settle at all. If there is no insurance involvement, an injured person must pursue recovery directly from the driver responsible for the accident. This can be difficult if the responsible driver has no assets. While an injured person can sue the person responsible for their injuries and obtain a judgment, there is never a guarantee compensation will be received. There are avenues to recover funds from a judgment against another person, including asset or wage garnishment, but these things take significant time and can be costly for the injured party to pursue.

Get Help from an Auto Accident Lawyer at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm

A car accident lawyer can help to ensure a smooth timeline and maximize the compensation of your rear-end accident case. If you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision, get help from an attorney from Brown & Crouppen Law Firm. Our attorneys have 10 locations across the Midwest, including St. Louis and Kansas City

Getting started with your case is easy. Request a free case evaluation online from our legal team or call 888-801-4736 to get started. And remember, our auto accident attorneys operate on a contingency-fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs or legal fees – we only get paid if you win.

SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION

Brown and Crouppen Law firm Logo
CTA popup
Unlock Our FREE Auto Accident Checklist

Hurt in an auto accident? Sign up for our newsletter to receive a FREE auto accident checklist and guide written by the attorneys at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm to help jump-start your recovery.

314-222-2222
Text with a live representative
Text “GETBC” to 314-222-2222
Standard rates apply