How Does The Car Accident Settlement Process Work?

How Does The Car Accident Settlement Process Work?
Calendar icon January 19, 2023

If you have been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your losses. While many injury victims opt to seek the assistance of an lawyer after an accident, they may not always know what to expect during the car accident settlement process.

The truth is that each car accident claim is unique, which means the settlement process for each case can vary depending on the severity of your injuries, length of treatment or the complexity of your case. Generally speaking, this is what you can expect if you were involved in a car accident and have filed a personal injury claim:

Car Accident Settlement Process In 7 Steps:

1. Seek Medical Attention

It’s extremely important to seek medical care after your car accident, even if you feel your injuries do not warrant a visit to the doctor. Injuries that may seem minor immediately following the accident can worsen over time and a failure to seek medical attention can delay your recovery period.

After seeking initial medical care, it is imperative to your case that you follow the guidance of your treating physicians until you reach a full recovery. Depending on the severity of your injuries, this can take anywhere from weeks to several months.

2. Speak To An Attorney For A Free Case Evaluation

Immediately after the accident, reach out to a trusted and reputable personal injury attorney in your area for a case consultation. During the consultation, the attorney may ask about the accident, your injuries and if you are seeking ongoing medical care.

This is also the perfect opportunity to decide if the attorney you’re speaking to is the right fit for your case. During the consultation, you may want to ask questions pertaining to the legal process, the attorney’s experience with cases like yours, how your case will be handled, and so on. Choosing the right accident attorney to handle your case can make a big difference when it comes to the compensation you receive for your injuries.

3. File An Insurance Claim

After you’ve hired an attorney and have completed your medical treatments, they will review all of your medical records and bills, property damage estimates, wage loss verifications, and any out of pocket expenses you may have accrued from the accident.

Once your damages have been assessed by your attorney, they will send that information to the insurance company, typically followed by a demand letter, in an attempt to settle. If the insurance company does not offer fair compensation for your injuries, your attorney may choose to file a lawsuit in an attempt to recover adequate compensation for you.

4. Paperwork Is Filed With Court

If your attorney is unable to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, they will begin what is called the litigation process. During this stage, your attorney will prepare a complaint that you will need to review and verify. This, among other paperwork, will be filed by your attorney in the court and the insurance company will need to hire an attorney to respond to that paperwork.

Keep in mind, this does not automatically mean your case will be going to trial. In fact, many cases can settle at any point during the suit.

5. The Discovery Phase

After filing suit, the next phase is called discovery. During the discovery phase, each party involved will exchange information, assess damages and establish defenses. You will be required to make a deposition, which is when you are asked under oath about the accident and the injuries you’ve sustained.

The pace at which this phase moves depends on many different factors including the jurisdiction you’re in, the number of defendants involved, and the complexity of the legal issues.

6. Mediation and Negotiations

Once the discovery phase has closed, both the plaintiff and defense team will usually attempt to settle the case before the trial begins. This often happens at a mediation which is a meeting with a neutral attorney who tries to resolve the case. Since the mediation stage is voluntary, both your attorney and the defense attorney will need to agree on a mediator who will be impartial to either side during the process.

During mediation, each party will present their case to the mediator. The mediator will then talk to each side privately to try and resolve the case. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial.

7. Case Goes To Trial

If neither party can reach an agreement during the litigation, discovery or mediation process, then your case will go to trial. A jury will be selected to hear both parties’ cases, after which they will decide who is at fault for the accident and the amount of money you will be awarded.

Factors That Can Delay The Settlement Process

Questions of Liability

Establishing liability and proving negligence can be difficult in some cases, while it is cut-and-dry in others. New York State is a comparative negligence state, meaning that the amount of damages that you can receive may be diminished depending on what percentage at-fault you are in the accident. Cases with an issue of liability may take longer to settle.

Eyewitness Accounts

While having eyewitnesses can be extremely valuable in proving your case, it may not be easy to reach out to gather information after the fact. Your attorney will need to interview any key witnesses to the accident, which can take several months if they are not responsive.

Your Recovery Time

Your attorney may recommend that you wait to settle your case until you have completed your medical treatments or until you have reached maximum medical improvement. Depending on the severity of your injuries, this can take weeks, several months or even years to accomplish.

Insurance Company In No Rush To Settle

Often, insurance companies will investigate your case and try to find any piece of evidence that can devalue your claim. While doing this, they may also delay offering or paying out any settlements. It’s best to work with an attorney who is familiar with these tactics to avoid a low payout.

How Cellino Law Can Help

The aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and confusing, especially when dealing with the insurance company. However, having a personal injury attorney with the experience necessary to take on the insurance company will save you time, stress, and help to increase your chance of a fair settlement offer.

The attorneys at Cellino Law are here to fight for you. With decades of experience both inside and out of the courtroom, we can help you to recover the compensation you deserve from big insurance. To reach a member of our legal team for a free case consultation, call us at 888-888-8888.

Zoom Screenshot_16.png

Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.



Free Case Review




  • I am writing to let you know what an outstanding job George Gridelli did for me in my personal injury lawsuit. His professionalism and expertise were evident at our first metting and he and his paralegal Diane D'Andrea took care of me as if I was a friend and not merely a client. They both went above and beyond for me in so many ways that it would be too numerous to list and I am grateful to have had such an exemplary team represent me. When working with George and watching him in court he personified to me what a lawyer is supposed to be - an honest, extremely compentent man who helped guide me through the legal system. I could not have obtained better representation anywhere else at any price. To me that says a lot abut you and your firm's integrity. Thank you again for representing me and for having such stellar individuals working for you! I will continue to recommend your firm.


  • I highly recommend Cellino Law to anyone involved in a car crash. I worked with Michael Lovecchio, and had a wonderful experience given the circumstances. He was very attentive, and got the best possible outcome I could have wanted.


  • Choosing the right attorney to represent you after an accident can make all the difference. This is no cliche. I recently experienced these words to live by first hand. After a tractor trailer rear ended me at high speed in 2017 I retained Allan Silverstein to handle my case. I quickly realized that bringing a lawsuit rapidly snowballs into a mountain of details that can make or break your results. Documents, case histories, doctor visits, bills, and lots of phone calls all need to be accurately kept track of if a successful outcome it to be attained. To complicate matters I reside in New York and the incident took place in New Jersey. Luckily, Allan was licensed in multiple states. I was fortunate to find Allan to handle this matter from the New York area. Armed with an accurate account of the facts Allan went to work on the difficult job of negotiating with the defending insurance company as well as my no fault carrier in order to obtain the best possible outcome for my set of circumstances. In a lawsuit communication is key and and events can be of a timely nature. Allan never failed to return my calls - usually the same day! He fought skillfully and respectfully to get me the best possible settlement. He is easy to deal with and a likeable down to earth guy. He always listened with compassion and respect to my issues. He guided me with objective understanding as well as a realistic analysis of the merits of my case. When we finally settled Allan got me a fair agreement beyond my expectations and negotiated with my doctors to make sure all my bills were paid. It was a great experience having Allan represent me. Quality work in any aspect of life is hard to find. Quality is what I got with Allan Silverstein. I highly recommend him if you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney.


  • Thank you for your efforts on my behalf. I am very pleased (and surprised) at the amount of the settlement. We will use the funds to help pay down the debt on the truck we had to purchase after ours was totaled. Thank you again.


  • Thank you for all your help. It has been a long journey. At last, the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, thank Tom for the help and work he put in.


  • Thank you for your help in settling the case of my father's accident. I could always count on you to answer my questions honestly and in terms I could understand. If all lawyers at Cellino Law are like you, I understand why they are an A-1 law firm.