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How Long Does a Syracuse New York Car Accident Case Take to Settle?

Car AccidentAs Syracuse car accident lawyers with many years of experience, we can usually tell fairly soon after we sign up a new case how long a settlement is likely to take. The answer to this question involves four main factors:

  • The type of injury
  • The insurance policy limits
  • Whether liability is disputed
  • The reasonableness of the insurance company

Let’s discuss each one:

TYPE OF INJURY: If your injury is significant and will have PERMANENT consequences, it is not advisable to even attempt to settle your case within the first year after the accident. That’s because you are going to want to include, in your settlement demand, compensation for a LIFE TIME of pain and suffering or loss of use of whatever body part you injured. And Syracuse area doctors won’t be able to tell you car accident lawyer what your percentage loss is, or even whether you have a permanent loss, until at least a year after the accident. They will say that the body can keep healing until at least a year after the injury. Then, if you end up with surgery to try to fix the body part (for example, a fusion surgery for a spinal injury), the doctor won’t know the final results of the surgery for at least another six months. Further, the insurance company will demand proof of permanency from the doctor before it is willing to pay to compensate permananecy.

THE INSURANCE POLICY LIMITS: If you have a big injury and the insurance policy limits are small, you can usually settle your case relatively quickly because it will be obvious to the insurance company that the injury is worth at least the maximum payable under the policy. Thus, for example, if your car accident lawyer is representing you for a Syracuse area accident in which you fractured your thoracic spine and you required surgery, and the only insurance available is a $25,000 auto policy, and the car owner/driver has no real assets to go after, then we can settle your car accident case within just a few months. But if the policy is large, say $500,000, we will have to wait and see what the “permanency” of the injuries are before we can even make a settlement demand (see “type of injury” above to understand why).

WHETHER LIABILITY IS IN DISPUTE: No matter how serious your injury, or how big or small the insurance policy, we may not be able to settle your claim quickly if there is a dispute as to who was responsible for the auto collision. For example, if you say you had the green light, but the other guy who t-boned you says his light was green, then there is a dispute that may have to go all the way to a jury to resolve. The cases that settle more quickly, without a trial, usually involved car accidents where there is no dispute that the defendant is liable for the accident.

THE REASONABLENESS OF THE INSURANCE COMPANY: Some insurance companies are famous for “low-balling” settlement offers. To name a few, New York Central Mutual and Progressive. When one of these low-balling insurance carriers make unreasonably low offers on your car accident injury, we will always recommend a lawsuit and, if necessary, a trial so that you don’t get taken advantage of. Of course the decision as to whether to go to trial is yours, not ours. Dealing with low-balling insurnace companies takes time. We have to “convince” them by suing their insured and going through all the procedures for getting the case ready for trial. Sometimes they will “cave” before trial and pay a reasonable amount, but sometimes not, and we have to try the case. All this takes time, up to a year or even two.

This being said, very often car insurance companies will make an initial offer early on. We usually do not recommend our clients take it. It is usually too low, or else we don’t yet know the full extent of the injuries or permanency. If you take that settlement offer, you have to sign a “release” that says you can never come back for more money. So it is a bad idea to take the settlement unless it is very fair and you are sure there will be no long-term, permanent injuries.

At Michaels & Smolak, our Syracuse car accident lawyers have only one goal: To maximize the amount of your settlement. We fight hard to get you every cent you deserve. This can take time, but the delays have to do with either having to wait for a “permanency” evaluation from your doctor, or else the insurance company’s stubborn refusal to pay you what you deserve.

More FAQ's About Car Accident Cases

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