There is no way to say definitively how long it takes to settle a car accident case because so many factors can affect the timeline. It can range from a few weeks to a few months or even years. However, with the help of an experienced Manhattan attorney, you have a better chance of reaching a fast and fair settlement.
Why Is Settling Preferable Over Going to Trial?
There are several reasons why accepting a settlement is preferable over going to trial. A central reason is that trials are costly. Cases can drag on for years as the costs, such as attorney fees, expert witness fees, and travel expenses, continue to pile up. Additionally, plaintiffs suffering from severe injuries may not have the time to wait on a lengthy trial process. At the same time, their medical needs result in hefty bills arriving when they cannot work. Ultimately, it is almost always better for everyone if they settle outside court.
Trials are also unpredictable. You may think you have everything you need to prove liability, but there may be things you did not know about your witnesses, or you could have an unfavorable judge. You may fail to prove non-economic damages adequately, significantly reducing the value of your claim. Ultimately, both parties want to avoid trial, which is why most personal injury cases settle before going to court.
Why Insurance Companies Prefer To Settle
When you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, the adjuster assigned to your case is primarily tasked with protecting the company’s best interests. In most cases, the unpredictability of trial is far less appealing for the company than settling. Going to trial will substantially increase their use of human resources in your case and potentially result in significantly more financial losses. They may employ bad faith methods to delay your claim or try to frustrate you into accepting a lowball offer, but ultimately, it is in their best interest to settle.
What Damages Can You Claim in a Car Accident Case?
Damages are the economic and non-economic losses associated with your case. Your settlement should reflect the total of your losses at the very minimum. Because every accident is unique, the types of damages available vary, but most car accident cases have some variation of the same categories of damages.
Compensatory Economic Losses
Your monetary losses are the economic damages. These have an absolute value reflected in bills, receipts, and other tangible forms of evidence:
- Medical expenses. Severe injuries require extensive medical treatment. For example, you can claim the cost of emergency care received at the accident scene, including ambulance expenses and treatment provided by the hospital emergency department. In addition, all aftercare costs, such as medications, surgeries, rehabilitation, medical devices, and ongoing outpatient care, are also recoverable.
- Loss of income. Any wages lost due to missed work, loss of promotional opportunity, or loss of earning capability is potentially recoverable.
- The costs associated with damaged property. You can claim any property you have to repair or replace due to the accident.
- Household expenses related to recovery. You can claim the cost of any help hired to aid you through recovery, such as in-home help and childcare services. In addition, if you need to make structural changes to your home, such as adding a wheelchair ramp outside or a handrail or lift on the stairs, you could also claim those costs.
- Transportation expenses. The at-fault party in your case would also be liable for the cost of transportation to and from medical visits.
Proving each element of these losses requires collecting extensive documentation. However, the more evidence you can provide, the more you strengthen your claim and better your chances of a fast and fair settlement.
Compensatory Non-Economic Losses
Consider how the car crash and your injuries impacted your life and psychological health. Those negative changes can also have a monetary value you can recover. These damages are non-economic, and typical examples include:
- The physical pain and suffering caused by your injuries
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium if the intimate relationship with your spouse was impacted
- Loss of the enjoyment life once brought you
- Disability or disfigurement
- Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
After your attorney finishes the investigation into your case and gathers all the evidence needed to prove the at-fault party’s negligence and the losses you sustained, the next step is to use that information to draft a demand letter they will send to the defendant’s insurance provider. The demand letter is the first step in the negotiation process that will typically lead to a settlement.
What Does an Attorney Include in a Demand Letter?
An efficiently organized demand letter should describe the facts of the case, explain how the accident occurred, name all parties involved, detail the damages resulting from the accident, and make reasonable demands for a settlement. Elements of a demand letter include:
- Facts about the accident. You should describe what happened, where you were, what time it was, and who was involved in as descriptive words as possible. Only include information you can prove.
- Details about your injuries. Discuss the physical and psychological harm you suffered, and be as detailed as possible. Include a complete list of damages and their monetary values, and once again, avoid including anything you cannot provide evidence to support.
- Negligence claim. Explain why the defendant is at fault. This means providing evidence to support the elements of a negligence claim: the defendant owed you a duty of care, the defendant violated that duty of care, the violation caused your accident, and the accident caused your injuries.
- Your demand. In the final section of the letter, you can inform the insurance company that this demand applies only to the pre-filing stage and will increase if you file a lawsuit.
The insurance company will need to draft a reply within a short period. You can typically expect them to respond with a lowball offer or accusations of role in the accident’s cause. However, when you hire a car accident attorney, they draft the letter for you and will take the necessary steps to counter the insurer’s response.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Attorney?
Victims of devastating auto accidents commonly face severe financial repercussions while trying to recover from physical and emotional injuries. In an ideal world, you would receive a fair offer from the insurance company and settle your case as quickly as possible without legal interference. However, insurance companies always place profits above accident victims, making it more challenging to get a settlement that adequately reflects your losses. With the help of a car accident attorney, your chances of settling more quickly and at a higher amount dramatically increase.
If you suffered an injury in a car accident in Manhattan, you would likely benefit from speaking with a local attorney with experience in accidents similar to yours. At Cellino Law, we charge no upfront fees to listen to the details of your case, and we only get paid if we secure a settlement or award for you. Contact our team of experienced car accident attorneys at (800) 555-5555 to schedule your no-obligation consultation today. We are ready and prepared to answer your questions and help you make the right decision for your case.
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- My experience during the time of negotiations was extremely positive. Josh Sandberg handled my lawsuit with the utmost integrity. He returned all my phone calls in a timely manner and answered all my questions. Josh made things less stressful. I would highly recommend Josh and the entire staff at Cellino Law.
- Cellino Law and more specifically my attorney, Gregory V. Pajak, Managing Attorney, and as a whole the Cellino Law Firm and its organization. This is by far one of the most professional law firms and attorney I have ever engaged with and retained in my 35 years. The level of professionalism goes beyond words, the care and constant engagement with me as the client was touching. I was never ever just treated as simply a CASE with potentially a significant dollar number attached to my file. I was engaged regularly, Tracey (Ass’t) and Greg always made sure to remain constant, as well as consistent in overseeing that my case was handled properly and that it did matter in many ways - ensuring that the end result(s) would be fair and reasonable to my case/injury. The regular follow-up calls were very satisfying, knowing that you’re involved in your case matters significantly AND always. One of my main items to recognize Cellino Law and Gregory is that whenever I called, I was able to get through to speak directly to my Lawyer and he would answer any if not all of my questions in a very professional and genuinely caring manner. I always felt cared for and protected legally and more importantly, I was made feel as a human being that was being cared for and always keeping me abreast of all matters connected to the case. There was never a point I felt let down, on the contrary -the level of service was “STELLAR”. Greg is the consummate professional, a ‘role model’, if you will, for what other attorneys should strive to become when dealing with their clients.
- I want to thank your law firm for settling my lawsuit where others failed. You treated me with the utmost respect and care, because of your law firm the dream of owning my own home finally came true. For the first time in a long time, we're living out our dream home. Thank you a million times over. Thank you for making my dream come true.
- We want to send a big "Thank you" from the both of us. We know you both fought for us and did a great job with our case. You did it in a timely manner and we appreciate it.
Kerrijo & Jerry
- I really just wanted to say thank you so much for taking my case, answering all my questions, and mostly for being very patient with me. I feel that without you and Roza I would not have been able to get anything at all. I hope to never need a lawyer again, but if I do I will definitely want you both working for me. Again thank your for you hard work, time and patience.
- 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.