Lever & Ecker, PLLC July 20, 2019 General
As the old expression goes, “time is money.” Undoubtedly, after any personal injury accident, you hope to reach a resolution as quickly as possible. In addition to the satisfaction of putting the matter behind you once and for all, there’s also the fact that you may need that money to cover your bills and other expenses.
But even though you hope to resolve the matter sooner than later, you don’t want to make the mistake of rushing into a hasty settlement. Doing so could mean you end up with a lot less money than you deserve. There’s also the risk that new injury-related expenses could pop up after you settle (or that your medical bills end up being a lot bigger than anticipated). Once you’ve signed a settlement, you generally aren’t able to go back and ask for more.
So how long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?
The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims in New York resolve through a settlement agreement without going to trial. That process typically takes several months. In some cases, it may take a year or more. (If your claim proceeds to trial, you can expect the process to last longer, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule.)
Insurance companies generally will not come to the table will a fair settlement offer until they are convinced that you have a strong case and that you are likely to take to them to trial if they don’t offer you fair compensation.
An experienced and aggressive attorney can help by building your case, supporting your claim, demonstrating your seriousness, and persuading the insurer that a fair settlement is in its own best interest.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim? Factors that affect the timeframe can include:
Insurance companies are corporations that increase their profits by paying out as little as possible on claims. The bigger the potential dollar figure in your claim, the more strenuously the insurance company will defend against it. Aggressive insurance tactics can cause additional delay. For that matter, dragging a claim out is itself a tactic that insurance companies will sometimes try to use.
Medically sophisticated injuries may require expert witness analysis or testimony. Depending on the medical specialty involved, getting a witness can take some time, as specialists often have very demanding schedules. Other kinds of complex evidence (e.g. accident reconstruction, forensics, toxicology, subpoenaed records, black box data, etc.) can also add time to the settlement process. The more complex the evidence, the greater the opportunity for a dispute between the parties.
Reaching a settlement while you’re still recovering can be a big mistake. Too often, accident victims have rushed into an insurance settlement only to later learn that their damages are greater than expected. While it may not be possible in every situation, it is usually best to wait until you have achieved “Maximum Medical Improvement” (“MMI” for short). In other words, you’re as healed as you’ll ever be — or at least close to it. More serious injuries may require longer recovery periods and may therefore take longer to settle. Your doctor and your lawyer can help you understand how long MMI might take in your situation.
The more parties involved, the longer resolution can take. If multiple people are injured in the same accident, for example, the insurance company may want to see all of the claims and all of the evidence and records from each party before it begins to engage in reasonable settlement talks. Crossclaims and counterclaims can also cause delay.
Sometimes, in order to exert pressure on the insurance company and to demonstrate the seriousness of our claim, we will file a formal lawsuit with the court even while still engaged in settlement talks. Because we are truly prepared to go to trial if that’s what it takes (and because the insurance company would very much like to avoid a trial if possible), an impending court date can act as a point of leverage and as an incentive for the insurance company to settle.
Sometimes, an insurance company will respond to our demand package within a few days. In other cases, it may take two months or more. Likewise, insurance companies are more cooperative with some claims than others. Factors affecting their cooperation can include the size of the claim, the insurance company’s current books and fiscal year, and even the personality of the insurance adjustor, among many other factors.
These are only a few of the factors that affect how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim in New York. Each legal matter is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all timeframe.
At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we understand that time matters. We are committed to doing all we can to handle your case as efficiently as possible without compromising the strength of your claim. Your best possible outcome is always our #1 goal.
If you have been injured in White Plains, NYC, or anywhere else in New York, we encourage you to call our office (or contact us online) and talk about your situation directly with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer.
While we cannot guarantee a particular timeframe or specific result, we can help you understand how long your claim might take, how much you might be able to recover, the factors that might influence the resolution of your claim, and how long claims like yours have taken in the recent past.
Lever & Ecker, PLLC is a New York personal injury firm with years of experience in helping injured people and their families claim the financial justice they deserve.
We offer a free initial consultation to personal injury victims. If we take your case, we will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we get you money.