If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, dealing with the time, stress, and hassle of a drawn-out personal injury matter is likely the last thing you want to deal with. You have medical bills and appointments, lost wages and other work-related issues, car repairs, and any number of other things to concern yourself with. You do, however, want the person responsible for your injuries to compensate you for the harm they have caused. As your bills pile up, you are likely hoping for a quick but lucrative settlement to cover your various costs. But how long does the process typically take? A dedicated and knowledgeable Bronx car accident lawyer can help you evaluate your claims and estimate your potential recovery and the likely time frame to reach a settlement. Although every case is different, there are some commonalities and factors that affect how long you can expect to be pursuing your claim in court before a settlement will be reached.
Every Case is Different
At the outset, it is important to note that every case is unique, and the timing for the ultimate settlement will depend on the circumstances of the accident as well as how much you are willing to accept, how much the at-fault driver is willing to pay, and both parties’ respective tolerance for the risks associated with dragging the case out and going to trial. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to settle, depending on the case. If the other party is willing to take any case all the way through trial, no matter how obvious it is that they will lose, then your case will simply take time to fight out. But there are factors that generally affect how long a settlement will take.
Strength of the Case and the Availability of Evidence
One of the primary factors in determining the speed of settlement and recovery after a car accident is the strength of your case. If you have the other driver on a traffic camera swerving into your car, with available witnesses, and police evidence demonstrating they were driving under the influence of alcohol, then you have a slam-dunk case, and settlement should happen relatively quickly. At that point, the fight will just be about your total damages.
On the other hand, if the evidence is weak or hard to find (no witnesses, the car damage is inconclusive as to fault, etc.), and it is unclear whether the other driver was actually careless or reckless, then you may be looking at a weak settlement offer from either the insurer or the other party (depending on the seriousness of the accident and whether you are still within the land of no-fault coverage). If the settlement offer is very low, you and your attorney will likely have to continue gathering evidence such as additional medical opinions to bolster your case and demonstrate that you can prove both negligence and that you are entitled to a larger award. Building a case like that will take more time.
The Size of the Award
Whether you are dealing with your insurance company seeking no-fault coverage, negotiating with the at-fault driver’s company after a serious injury, or arguing with the at-fault driver and their attorney directly, one thing is generally true: The larger the settlement amount, the more time the other side will likely want to take in reaching a settlement. The insurer or other defendant will probably want to do all of their due diligence to see if they can weaken your case or reduce your available damages, and they will generally drag their feet in the hopes that you will accept a smaller reward. At a certain point, you and your attorney will have to determine whether it is more important to wait it out and seek a higher damages amount or instead accept a lower offer in the interests of speeding things along.
Ongoing Medical Treatment
If you are still receiving new medical treatment, such as additional surgeries, and you have not moved into a more steady recovery (such as ongoing physical therapy), then your total damages will remain somewhat unclear. If your total losses are unclear, it will be more difficult for all parties involved to reach an appropriate settlement amount. Your attorney will likely advise you to wait until you have reached a point of maximum medical improvement before you agree on a settlement amount to ensure that you are not stuck with a low settlement that does not actually cover all of your bills, your disability, your lost wages, or your pain and suffering, as the case may be.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by someone else’s negligence in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the dedicated and effective personal injury lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a consultation, at 718-409-1200.