A frequent question we receive at Setareh Law is how long it takes to settle a car accident claim in California. Usually, the concern stems from fearing that a lawyer will drag the process out even longer. First, understand that without a lawyer, you will not get anything even remotely close to the compensation you need to recover damages and losses. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they will latch onto any statement or perceived act of liability on your part to minimize or outright deny your injury claim.

There is no way to predict the exact time it will take to prove your injury and receive a settlement offer or court award. The reason for this is that every case is different, and the varying circumstances significantly impact the type of compensatory damages you may or may not receive. 

The Timeline of a Personal Injury Case

As mentioned before, the length of your personal injury case will depend on many variables—some that a lawyer may be able to streamline and some that depend on the insurer. Regardless, the timeline itself stays consistent.


This part of a settlement timeline takes up the majority of the effort involved. This phase is never really over until an agreement is reached that all parties agree on. There are occasions where a personal injury attorney might have to file a lawsuit to force the insurance company to start negotiating seriously. 


At this stage, your attorney has filed a lawsuit with the court, and the liable parties will receive notice within 30 to 60 days, giving them an additional 30 days or so to respond. Pre-trial discovery will take place afterward, which can also take a considerable amount of time to complete.

Alternative Dispute Resolution 

The insurer may opt for mediation of your claim to avoid going to trial. While this process may only take a few days or weeks to reach a settlement agreement for your personal injury suit, your claim may not get to this point for a year or more after your accident took place.


For cases that end up going to trial, this may be a year or more after your accident has taken place. The trial may only take a few days or a week, but an experienced personal injury attorney has the negotiation skills to get fair compensation without having to go before a jury.

As outlined above, many variables might affect the length of each phase of your personal injury claim. This is why you should focus on healing and allow your attorney to handle negotiations with stubborn insurers who will try to minimize or deny your accident claim.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in California?

Just like trying to determine how long your case will take to settle, it is also difficult to pinpoint how much your settlement might be. Your California personal injury attorney will ensure that any compensation offer is fair and covers some or all of the below damages:


  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Vehicle repair
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and loss of work capacity
  • Loss of consortium


When you agree to a personal injury settlement, you agree to drop further action against the liable party (the insurer). While the majority of cases reach settlements, there is a requirement by the California Rules of Court 3.1380. This rule requires both parties to participate in a settlement meeting, at least once, that aims to resolve the case before going to trial.

Is There a Time Limit to File a California Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit?

The state of California does have civil procedures in place that dictate the statute of limitations for filing damages claims. California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1 gives plaintiffs two years to make a personal injury claim against the liable party’s insurance. This statute is strictly for injuries, not the vehicle itself. If you have a smashed windshield or deployed airbags, then you have three years from the date of the accident to file your claim according to the California Code of Civil Procedure § 338

Talk to a California Personal Injury Attorney About Your Car Accident Settlement

Your car accident settlement is a critical part of recovering after suffering debilitating injuries and property damage. If your case were to go to trial, you can expect the jury to have specific rules to follow when deciding on the amount of compensation you should receive. Negotiating for the appropriate amount of compensation to make you whole again requires patience and a skilled personal injury attorney who can stop an insurance company from stalling. If you are unsure about the value of your case or whether it is worth negotiating, speak with legal counsel before making any decisions that could jeopardize your claim.

At Setareh Law, our team provides unmatched legal representation for plaintiffs across California. We will evaluate the facts of your case, discuss what avenues for compensation are available to you, and serve as your counsel throughout the personal injury claims process. As recognized SuperLawyers, we offer dependable, high-quality support to represent your best interests every step of the way. To schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, complete an online contact form or call today at (310) 659-1826.