Depending on how cooperative the insurance company or other party is, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several years to reach a settlement after a car accident. The longest part of the process occurs as all parties and law enforcement investigate the accident. Serious injuries could cause major delays in the settlement process as well. If the idea of fighting a legal battle for months or years sounds daunting, we encourage you to read on to learn more about how to settle a car accident.
What Is the Car Accident Settlement Process?
Unless you’ve been through a car accident settlement before, you probably have many questions about what the process looks like. We know it can be daunting, but it helps to break it down into four steps:
- Gather Information and Evidence: The success of your settlement depends on your evidence. You won’t receive the compensation you deserve without photos, medical records, statements, and other documentation to support your claim.
- Send Demand Letter: Once you have all of the evidence to support your claim, you should draft a demand letter that states your claim, explains your injuries, and lays out the damages for which you want compensation.
- Wait for Response: Your insurance company will read your letter and look into the car accident case to see whether or not they will pay you for your damages.
- Negotiate or Appeal: If they decline, you will have to appeal to a claims adjuster, or you will need to file a lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident by filing a complaint through your local court. If your insurance company agrees to pay damages, they will make a settlement offer, and you will likely have to go through negotiations until you settle.
Factors that Dictate the Settlement Process
While a car accident claim might seem straightforward, several factors determine the settlement amount you’ll receive. With the help of an attorney, you can calculate the emotional, physical, and financial toll of the car accident. The following are the most common factors that will influence your compensation.
While you might think it’s evident that the other person is at fault, the law might not see it that way. If there is any chance that you may be partially at fault, you could have to reduce your settlement amount. Since New York is a comparative negligence state, you are entitled to compensation even if you are partially at fault. The amount of your settlement will be based on the percentage that the other party was at fault.
Conflicting Witness Accounts
It can be difficult to determine each party’s liability in cases in which there are conflicting accounts from the other party or witnesses. You could have an even more difficult time proving liability if officials are unable to definitively find which driver was most at fault for the accident. If this happens, you might have trouble receiving any settlement at all.
Type and Severity of Your Injuries
Minor injuries will result in a smaller settlement than more major injuries. This is because of the cost of medical care and the hassle of getting the treatment you need. That’s not all. Any accidents that leave a person permanently disfigured or disabled will increase the size of your settlement because of the impact they will have for the rest of the person’s life. The settlement amount will be based on your maximum medical improvement.
Medical Bills and Lost Wages
It’s crucial that you keep an accurate record of all of your medical bills so that you can receive fair compensation for them. If you missed work because of the accident and your injuries, you could also be entitled to compensation for lost wages. After all, you need to continue to make money to support yourself and your family. Your attorney will use both pay stubs and medical bills to calculate your economic damages in cases like this.
Your Marital Status
If you’re single, the amount of money you would need to pay your household bills would typically be less than if you had a family. If you were the head of the household or sole wage earner, then your lawyer would consider the economic damage your family sustained. Still, there could also be noneconomic damages if you contribute to the family in other ways, such as household chores or caring for your children.
How Quickly Medical Treatment Was Sought
Not all injuries are noticed right away, but if you don’t seek medical treatment right after your accident, it can be hard to prove that it was the cause. We always recommend that you get a medical evaluation right away, even if you don’t feel pain. Tests could show hidden injuries that could cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills down the road.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Payment After a Case Is Settled?
The exact amount of time can vary from case to case based on the negotiations. However, the average settlement recipient should have their money within six weeks of closing negotiations. As part of the process, a settlement check is sent to your attorney so that they can complete the settlement process and ensure that the check clears. The money will then be given to you. Keep in mind that large sums deposited into your bank account can be held for a few days to prevent any unlawful transactions.
Does Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Have a Big Impact on Receiving a Settlement Sooner?
If you are concerned about how long it will take to reach a settlement, you might be looking into options to speed up the process. While nothing is guaranteed, an excellent attorney-client relationship can help to expedite the process. The right attorney should know which hurdles to anticipate in personal injury cases.
However, that’s not the only reason people choose to hire car accident attorneys to help settle cases.
On average, hiring a car accident lawyer to represent you can increase your settlement amount by more than 40%. Since they have experience, they will know how to build the best case for you.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in White Plains
Would you like to learn more about the process of going through a car accident settlement? If so, we recommend that you contact the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Francis X. Young. Our professionals are ready to provide you with all of the information you need to get started.
You can reach our White Plains office by calling us at 914-285-1500. You can also submit our online contact form to request a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss the details of the case.