Thanks to better intersection design and 24/7 speed cameras, New York City traffic fatalities have been on the decline for the first time since 2019. Comparatively, national accident-related fatalities are at a four-decade high.
Still, no matter how much safer the roads are, accidents are bound to happen every now and then. In Queens, dozens of accidents occurred in May 2023 alone, many of which were caused by driver distraction, following too closely, and even falling asleep from fatigue.
If you’ve been in a car crash, you’re probably asking, “How long do car accident settlements take?” Maybe you’re relying on that check to cover rent, property damage to your car, or medical bills, especially if the crash left you too hurt to work.
Here’s what you need to know about settlement timelines from a car accident lawyer in Queens, NY.
When Can You Expect a Settlement?
So, how long does it take to get settlement money from a car accident? When you make a claim with the insurance company, they’ll typically send you a check within 30 days of signing a settlement agreement.
But that’s assuming everything goes perfectly. Some insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying what they owe you. If the insurer offers you an insulting settlement, you and your Queens car accident lawyer may end up battling the at-fault driver in court.
Should that happen, don’t expect a settlement anytime soon. Court cases can drag on for months, meaning it could take about a year to see a settlement check.
What’s Involved in the Car Accident Settlement Process?
Why do car accident settlements take so long? Here’s what goes into your car accident case at each stage.
Filing a Claim With the Insurance Company
When you make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, an adjuster will launch an investigation into the details of your accident. It’s their job to determine how the accident happened and which driver is to blame.
Car accident cases aren’t always cut and dry, which means you and the other driver could share some of the blame. This matters because New York is what’s called a “pure comparative negligence” state.
Under the comparative negligence rule, you can collect damages for medical care and property damage even if you were 99% at fault for the accident. However, the insurance company (or court, if your case goes to trial) can reduce your settlement by your percentage of fault for the accident.
This is why having a car accident settlement law firm to represent you can be so useful. The insurance company might try to say you’re 70% at fault for the crash, but you might be only 40% at fault. Your car accident lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company and establish the facts of your case.
Your lawyer will also prepare a settlement demand for the insurer. If the adjuster doesn’t accept the first demand (and they often don’t), they’ll counter with an adjusted number. You can either take what they offer or negotiate again. This back and forth continues until you’ve reached a settlement you’re happy with.
At this point, you’ll sign a settlement agreement. This document releases all parties from future claims for damages, which means you can’t decide to sue the at-fault driver for more damages later.
Next, the insurer will send your settlement check to your lawyer, who will deposit the funds into an escrow account. Your lawyer will use part of the settlement to cover subrogation claims, attorney’s fees, and medical liens, then give the rest to you.
Filing a Lawsuit
If negotiations fail, your lawyer will assess whether your case meets the criteria for a personal injury lawsuit. In New York, you can only sue the at-fault driver if your case meets one of the following conditions:
- You had damages or injuries costing $50,000 or more.
- The accident caused serious injury, including paralysis, fractures, dismemberment, disfigurement, or loss of a pregnancy.
If your case qualifies, it’s possible to sue the at-fault driver. Your lawyer will often be able to settle the case out of court. But your case could escalate to trial if the defendant refuses to settle.
If that happens, it’s anyone’s guess how long a resolution will take. It could be months before you see a check in the mail.
Contact a Queens Car Accident Lawyer for Help With Your Case
Many types of car accidents and injuries qualify for a settlement, but some are worth more than others. For instance, if your accident left you paralyzed, your settlement will likely be higher than if you only had minor damage to your car.
Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, P.C. has years of experience representing New Yorkers in car accident cases. If you’d like a more detailed answer to the question, “How long do car accident settlements take?” call our firm at (718) 205-1010 today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do car accident settlements take so long?
Car accident settlements can drag on for quite a while because it takes time to investigate the crash, determine fault, and negotiate with insurance companies. The insurance company might also want to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before deciding on a settlement. Doctors say you’ve reached MMI when they don’t think you’ll recover anymore.
How much do car accident settlements pay?
How much car accident settlements pay depends on the specific details of the accident, such as your injuries and property damage to your car. Many car accident settlements pay anywhere from $14,000 to $28,000, but yours could be lower or higher than this range.
Are motorcycle accidents covered by New York’s “serious injury” threshold?
Motorcycle accidents aren’t subject to the serious injury threshold in New York. If someone hits you while riding your bike, you can sue them for minor damages.
If you’re wondering “How long do car accident settlements take if a motorcycle was involved?” reach out to us at (718) 205-1010 today.