Car Accident Settlement Timeline 

Car accidents can be life-changing events. They are scary and traumatic in the moment and can have a lasting impact on your life. Accidents can lead to both physical and financial hardships. Because of this, accident victims understandably have questions about the timeline for car accident settlements. 

There is a wide range of how long settlements take, ranging from months to years. That said, there are procedural steps that are followed after all car accidents. 

Here’s an overview of the settlement process in New York and a look at factors that impact how long the process takes. 

What to Do After a New York Car Accident 

What to Do After a New York Car Accident

There are some things that accident victims can do immediately after an accident to improve their chances of getting a fair settlement. 

Here’s a look at what you should do if you’re involved in a New York car accident: 

  • Get help immediately. The most important thing to do after a car accident is to ensure everyone is safe. Call 9-1-1 if anyone is injured and seek medical treatment for all injuries. In addition, make sure that everyone is out of the way of oncoming traffic and not at risk of additional injuries. 
  • Call law enforcement. You should always call the police, even for minor accidents. Law enforcement will come to the scene and create a police report. Never leave the scene before the police arrive.
  • Exchange information. Get the information of the other drivers in the accident and provide yours. Get the name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number of everyone involved in the accident. 
  • Take pictures and videos of the scene. Before the scene is cleared, document it as much as possible. Photographs, videos, and notes can help document what happened. 
  • Contact your insurance company. Whether or not you were at fault, you should contact your insurance company and let them know about the accident. 
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer. A car accident lawyer can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve from your insurance company and, if necessary, file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. 

Taking the above steps can help you begin the process of pursuing a car accident settlement. 

What Happens Once You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means that no matter who is at fault in a car accident, you’ll first file a claim with your insurance company. Even so, it’s important to determine who is at fault and to document all damages. This ensures you’ll get a fair settlement from your insurance company and be prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary. Your personal injury lawyer will take crucial steps that allow you to pursue the compensation you deserve. 

Investigate Your Case

The first thing your lawyer will do is investigate your case to determine who was at fault. 

This will include gathering evidence to support this claim, including the following: 

  • Evidence that you’ll use in an insurance demand letter or lawsuit includes: 
  • Police and accident reports
  • Witness testimony 
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Medical records 
  • Photographs and videos from the accident scene 

Your lawyer will analyze the evidence that is relevant to your case and use it to strengthen your claim for compensation.  

Calculate Damages

You’re entitled to compensation for your losses. This includes economic and non-economic damages. Before asking for compensation, it’s important to know the extent of your injuries and to gather evidence to support your damages claim. 

File an Insurance Claim 

Once you’ve calculated damages, you can file an insurance claim. In New York, you must first file a claim with your insurance company, even if you weren’t at fault. Your no-fault insurance, or personal injury protection, will cover a certain amount of your damages. The total amount depends on your policy; however, you must first file this claim. 

Negotiate With Your Insurance Company 

Once you file a claim, your insurance company will either accept it, counteroffer, or reject it. New York insurance adjusters have 15 days to request additional information. After that, they have an additional 15 days to either accept or deny a claim. 

If Necessary, File a Lawsuit Against the Responsible Party 

If your claim with your insurance company does not cover all of your damages or you suffered serious injuries, you can sue the responsible party for additional damages. An experienced car accident attorney can provide legal representation from the initial consultation through trial if needed. 

Factors That Impact How Long Your Car Accident Settlement Takes

The above process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. 

There are some factors accident victims can evaluate to help estimate how long their settlement will take, including the following:  

  • The severity of injuries. Accidents with serious or catastrophic injuries take longer to settle. In these cases, it takes longer to know the extent of damages and calculate current and future losses. In addition, these cases usually settle for more, which results in it taking longer to negotiate with insurance companies and the responsible party. 
  • The number of parties involved. Multi-car accidents or accidents with multiple injuries usually take longer to settle than accidents with only two vehicles and one injured party. 
  • The insurance companies involved. Some insurance companies are easier to work with than others. Because of this, the insurance companies involved have an impact on how long it takes to get a reasonable settlement. 
  • Whether there is comparative fault. New York follows an approach of pure comparative negligence. This means that if a party is partially at fault, they can still recover damages from another responsible driver for the percentage they are at fault. Cases that involve comparative negligence are more complex and take longer to settle. 

Your car accident attorney can help you evaluate the factors that might impact the anticipated timeline for your case. 

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit in New York? 

The statute of limitations for car accidents in New York is three years. In most cases, this means you have three years from the day of the accident to file a lawsuit. 

If you need to file a lawsuit, you must file it before the statute of limitations expires. If you don’t, you will lose your right to compensation and will have no additional avenue of recovery. Your personal injury lawyer will know when the statute of limitations runs in your case and will ensure you comply with all deadlines.

Contact a Buffalo Car Accident Lawyer for Help With a Settlement

For questions about your car accident, contact a Buffalo car accident lawyer. Our team at ​​O’Brien & Ford Buffalo Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers will evaluate your case and discuss your rights. We’ll give you a strategy for moving forward and an estimate of how long it could take to settle your case. 

Schedule a free consultation by calling (716) 222-2222 or visit our Buffalo, NY personal injury office to get started.