Car Accident Settlement Timeline in Illinois

The time it takes to settle a car accident claim varies. It depends on a number of factors, including the size and complexity of your claim. That being said, however, most car accident claims resolve within a few weeks to a few months. Rare cases can drag on for years. 

Understanding the typical stages of the resolution of a car accident claim can help you be better prepared for what to expect.

Gather Evidence at the Scene

Gather Evidence at the Scene

The first steps are to move the vehicles out of the road and call 911. If you are too seriously injured to gather evidence at the scene of the accident, ask someone else to do it for you. 

Try to gather at least the following evidence at the accident scene: 

  • The other driver’s contact and insurance details
  • Contact details for any witnesses
  • Photos of anything that might serve as evidence, including property damage, physical injury, skid marks, license tags, and weather conditions 

Cooperate with the police if you’re not in an ambulance when they arrive.

Seek Medical Treatment

Medical records are crucial evidence in a car accident case. Don’t delay getting medical help, even if you don’t believe you were injured. The defendant can use any unnecessary delay against you later. Since some injuries take time to manifest symptoms, seek immediate medical treatment if your body suffered any impact in the accident.

Talk to a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

Consultations with many Chicago personal injury lawyers are free. They will ask you questions regarding your case and allow you to ask questions as well. Working with an experienced car accident lawyer can force the insurance company to take a claim more seriously. 

Reach MMI

“MMI” means “maximum medical improvement.” It’s the point where your doctor doesn’t expect your medical condition to improve any further. Hopefully, it means you made a full recovery, but it might mean a permanent disability. It’s difficult to calculate your total medical expenses before you reach MMI. Once you reach MMI, your attorney can evaluate the full extent of your damages.  

Gather Additional Evidence

After hiring an attorney, they can help you gather and analyze the following evidence:

  • A copy of the police report
  • Your medical bills
  • Salary information from your employer to calculate your lost earnings
  • Cell phone records if you suspect the at-fault driver was texting while driving
  • CCTV videos from nearby businesses

Keep your medical records, any relevant correspondence, and a personal journal detailing how your injuries have affected your lifestyle.

You may or may not need an expert witness. Many car accident plaintiffs, for example, use accident reconstruction specialists to reconstruct the accident and prove fault. 

Send a Demand Package to the Insurance Company

A demand package consists of a letter demanding compensation plus supporting evidence. It includes statements and evidence that back up your demand. Your lawyer can draft it for you and send the entire package to the insurance company. This often begins the process of negotiations. 


The insurance company might reject your claim altogether. If this happens, you may need to file a lawsuit. If the insurance company responds instead with a counteroffer, it may be woefully inadequate. An experienced personal injury lawyer can skillfully negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

A claim and a lawsuit differ. All lawsuits are based on claims, but not all claims mature into lawsuits. Should yours? Well maybe, even if you still hope to settle your claim eventually. 

Filing a lawsuit can help you avoid an expiring statute of limitations. Lawsuits are also famous for their ability to stimulate a renewed effort to negotiate from insurance adjusters. 

You will also need to file a lawsuit before you can engage in the pretrial discovery process. The pretrial discovery process offers you additional evidence that you can use to negotiate your claim.

Remember, you can always agree to withdraw your lawsuit in exchange for a generous settlement.

Engage in the Pretrial Discovery Process

The pretrial discovery process is a court-supervised process where each side demands evidence from the other. 

The pretrial discovery process includes the following:

  • Depositions: Out-of-court cross-examination of witnesses under oath.
  • Interrogatories: written questions that the recipient must answer in writing and under oath.
  • Requests for production of evidence: copies of documents, for example, or the opportunity to inspect a vehicle.
  • Medical exams: If you are claiming injury, medical examinations, and subsequent records may be used as evidence. 

If either side refuses to cooperate, the court can impose sanctions. Remember, pretrial discovery can take up to a year to complete, but it doesn’t always take that long.

Sign a Settlement Agreement

If you reach an agreement with the other side, you can sign a car accident settlement agreement. You should consult a car accident attorney before agreeing to accept a settlement. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you cannot seek additional compensation for the same case. 

Receive Your Money

When the insurance company sends compensation, it should be received by your attorney. Your lawyer will deduct your legal fees and case expenses from the settlement amount. They will also pay off your medical lien if you have one. They will then forward what’s left to you. 

The entire process could take a few days to a few weeks. You may experience bureaucratic delays if you are dealing with a large insurance company.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer for Help With Your Car Accident Settlement

A Chicago car accident attorney at Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the timeline of settling a car accident claim in Chicago, Illinois. Contact us today at (312) 929-2884 to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team can help you learn more about the timeline you can expect for a car accident settlement and how we can help you secure fair compensation.