Many injured victims and their family members want to know how long it will take to resolve a car accident case. The majority of civil injury cases resolve by the parties through settlement, and approximately five percent of cases go to trial. Every car accident case features unique facts and characteristics that make it difficult to determine the exact amount of time it will take for a case to settle.
New York is a no-fault state regarding automobile accident claims, but injured victims can file a lawsuit against the negligent party in some situations. In no-fault states, insurers can often settle automobile accident claims easier because they do not need to determine who is to blame. This factor can make the settlement process quicker.
Every driver in the state must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. This type of coverage financially compensates car accident victims for losses such as property damage and the costs of medical treatment.
Settling a no-fault claim in New York means the insurer does not need to determine liability, and this permits the insurer to choose to deny or settle the claim. The insurer typically has 15 days to request additional details or information that the insurer needs to investigate the claim and damages suffered. After receiving the additional information, the insurer must deny or accept the claim within 15 days.
New York’s Statute Of Limitations
Car accident victims must file an injury lawsuit within three years from the date of the accident. Injured victims must act promptly to make sure they file a claim within this statute of limitations period. It is important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney regarding the time it will take to settle a specific car accident case.
What Happens After A Car Accident?
Every car accident victim should seek medical treatment after suffering serious bodily injury. If an individual victim does not feel like he or she suffered serious bodily injury, he or she might still want to seek medical treatment to identify hidden injuries and create a record of any treatment.
Different forms of bodily injury may not produce discernible symptoms immediately following an automobile accident. The insurance claims adjuster representing the insurance company will likely not perceive your injuries as being serious unless you sought medical treatment immediately after an accident.
Injured victims should then seek out an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. Hiring an attorney will help injured victims gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and more. After you hire an experienced car accident attorney, he or she will begin to analyze the facts related to your legal claim. The attorney will begin to gather evidence from all possible sources to help support your car accident claim.
Most attorneys will begin their analysis by interviewing the injured victim. An attorney will analyze the victim’s background and how the accident arose. Next, an attorney will learn about any medical conditions suffered by the victim. An attorney will also determine how much medical treatment the victim will need to undergo in the future.
An attorney will want to learn about the victim’s work history and how the automobile accident altered the victim’s earning capacity. Gathering medical bills, medical records, and employment records can require several months of work.
After a car accident attorney receives these records, then he or she can begin negotiating with the insurance company or attorney representing the opposing party. It is important to understand the full value of your claim before you begin the process of seeking compensation. This is because if you accept a settlement offer from an insurer that is too low, you cannot go back and ask for more down the line.
The Basic Process Of Car Accident Claims
Many car accident claim lawsuits will follow a pattern that can vary slightly due to the specific circumstances of each case. Every car accident case begins with an injury.
The car accident attorney representing the injured victim will file a summons and a copy of the complaint against every defendant named in the lawsuit. This can take a few weeks because a process server must serve these papers to the defendants.
The insurance company’s lawyer will then respond to the summons and complaint by filing an answer with the court, and this usually occurs two to four weeks after serving the summons and complaint. A car accident attorney wants the defendant to admit ownership of the property or vehicle involved in the automobile accident, as well as liability for the crash, which may or may not happen.
The discovery process begins after serving the complaint, and the defendant files an answer with the court. The parties exchange information through interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for production. These forms go between the parties, and each party must respond to the forms within a specific time.
Depositions can happen with court reporters present, and these are events in which an attorney will pose questions to the other party. The opposing attorney may delay depositions by six to twelve months if the defendant’s attorney claims the client is not available to attend the deposition.
After the depositions conclude, then the defendant’s insurance company might have a medical professional physically examine the injured victim and their medical records. This process may take a few months to schedule.
Car Accident Trials
Approximately 95 percent of all civil cases settle before a trial. Many attorneys, however, will begin the investigation stage of a car accident case as if they are preparing to go to trial.
If the case does not settle through settlement negotiations, then your case may proceed to mediation. This is a form of alternative dispute resolution. If a mediator cannot help the parties to resolve the matter at this stage, then your case will proceed to trial.
The court will set the trial for a specific date, which will depend on the court’s schedule. The number of cases already in process will be a factor in how much time it will take for a trial to begin. Trials might begin 12 to 48 months in the future.
Trials are complex affairs that take place before the public. The attorney representing the injured victim and the attorney representing the other party will present different forms of evidence, seeking to prove or challenge who is responsible for causing the car accident and the victim’s injuries.
The attorneys may present documentary evidence and testimonial evidence. Documentary evidence consists of records, documents, and other physical forms of evidence that do not violate the hearsay rule. All evidence must be admissible for it to come into play at trial, and many different rules will prevent the admission of certain evidence.
Testimonial evidence relates to the oral examination of witnesses and other parties who possess information regarding the matter that litigants can scrutinize at a trial. Attorneys will perform direct examinations, cross-examinations, redirect examinations, and recross examinations. These examinations must comply with the hearsay rule and other admissibility rules.
An attorney may object to specific questions asked by attorneys during a trial. Attorneys may only ask one question at a time, and attorneys may not suggest an answer by asking a suggestive question. An attorney will make sure that objections go on the record to ensure preservation on appeal.
Trials may be before a judge (bench trials) or may also be before a jury. During a trial, the parties can continue to engage in settlement negotiations, which might eliminate the need to continue the trial. In any case, trials have complicated rules, and they can take time to navigate.
How Long Can Trials Last?
Trials may last anywhere from a few hours to several months. Every trial is different, and some cases may have more evidence than others or require specific procedures that may take up a lot of time.
Judges may delay trial dates for many different reasons. Case delays occur frequently, and having a car accident attorney can help injured victims make sense of these delays and why they occur.
Personal Injury Settlements
Many injured victims want to know how much they can expect to receive if they reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company. If an injured victim asks for a large amount of financial compensation, then the car accident case often takes longer to resolve. The same is true if there are complex or technical assessments of liability.
Insurance claims adjusters analyze different factors before determining settlement offers. The insurance claims adjusters will examine the injured victim’s financial losses connected with the automobile accident.
The insurance claims adjuster will analyze the costs associated with the medical treatment the injured victim received in the past and the present. The adjuster will also confirm the approximate amount of time the injured victim missed from work. They must also calculate property damage expenses and future lost earnings.
The financial settlement offer should reflect these losses suffered by the injured victim. It can take several months for insurance claims adjusters to procure the records containing the information they need to verify these calculations. It can take time for these adjusters to interview witnesses, requisition medical records, and apply algorithms to vast amounts of data.
In some cases, insurance claims adjusters will analyze non-economic damages associated with an injured victim’s automobile accident case. Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress can all be factors that can increase the settlement offer the insurance company and the insurance claims adjuster propose.
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney can help you ensure that the insurance company does not try to deduct any of these damages from a settlement offer by using delaying tactics. Many insurance companies will try to get injured victims to sign waivers or admit to not suffering injuries due to a specific automobile accident.
Having a car accident attorney represent you can help an injured victim stand up against the insurance company and recover a just settlement amount. If a car accident settlement is quick, then it will typically resolve in a few months to a year. More complex cases may take longer to settle, however.
Many injured victims may be able to receive their settlement checks within a few weeks of finalizing a settlement negotiation. It is important not to rush this process just to get a check in your hand faster, as this often results in claimants accepting settlements that are far too low.
How To Shorten The Time To Finalize Settlement
Below are some ways injured victims can reduce the time it takes to finalize a settlement agreement:
- Provide full documentation upfront to try to prevent the insurer from delaying the process by requesting more information.
- Maintain expectations about what you will and will not accept in a settlement offer while continuing to be receptive to different settlement amounts.
- Hire a car accident attorney to negotiate with the insurance companies and pressure them to settle rather than proceed to trial.
Remain calm and patient while you wait for a car accident claim to settle. Many factors contribute to the length of time it takes for an automobile accident case to reach a favorable settlement. Many parties have various interests that conflict with one another and having a car accident attorney can help injured victims understand why delays occur and how they can reduce them.
Injured victims should understand that hiring a car accident attorney will allow them to heal from his or her injuries while the attorney deals with all of the paperwork. Filing deadlines, court hearings, and other matters can take up large amounts of energy and time. By hiring a car accident attorney, an injured victim will not have to deal with every incremental state of the automobile accident case.
By focusing on healing and recovering, the injured victim can get back to normal life as soon as possible while a competent professional works on achieving a just settlement amount.