Being in a car accident can be incredibly frightening. Dealing with the aftermath can be equally stressful, particularly as you start to deal with insurance companies and paperwork while you attempt to recover from your injuries.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the process for many people is that they don’t understand the process. Most people are fortunate enough to not be in multiple car accidents in their lifetimes. This means that they lack the experience to know what to expect in the New York car accident settlement process.
Learning about this process from a Long Island car accident attorney can help you feel more in control. It can also assist you in making wise decisions, as you understand that each stage is just a step in the process.
Step One: Filing a Personal Injury Claim with the Insurance Company
The first step in the New York car accident settlement process is to notify the at-fault party’s insurance company about the accident and your injuries. This is done by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Most insurance companies have a system for filing claims online or over the phone. You should do this as soon as possible after the accident, or in any case, within 24 hours.
In response to filing a personal injury claim, the insurance company will send you a “reservation of rights” letter. This letter will indicate that the insurance company plans to investigate your claim, but it is not admitting any liability for your injuries.
New York is a no-fault state for car accidents. This means that you will be covered by your own insurance company for certain damages regardless of who was at fault in the accident. As a result, you can and should seek medical treatment immediately after your crash. Bills for medical treatment, prescription drugs, lost wages, and transportation to and from medical providers will all be covered.
Step Two: Sending a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company
After consulting with and hiring a Long Island car accident attorney, your lawyer will investigate your case and begin to put together a claim. Your attorney will then send a demand letter to the insurance company.
The demand letter will set forth the facts of what happened in the accident as well as your injuries. It will also itemize your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Your Long Island car accident attorney will use his or her experience and other cases to craft this demand letter and put calculate a total amount in damages.
Step Three: The Negotiations Begin
Once the insurance company has received your demand letter, a claims adjuster will contact you to discuss an initial offer. If you are represented by a lawyer, all conversations and negotiations will go through your Long Island car accident attorney.
The claims adjuster will work to convince your lawyer that your claim is with much less than what you have demanded. He or she may argue that the number selected for “pain and suffering” is too high, or that your injuries are not properly documented.
This is where having a skilled Long Island car accident attorney is truly valuable. Your lawyer will use his or her negotiation skills to reject this initial low-ball offer, and reply with a counter offer. This counteroffer will restate your original demand, and reduce your settlement amount slightly to move the negotiation process forward.
The negotiation process will continue in this manner, often with the claims adjuster and your attorney making several offers and counteroffers between them. Importantly, your Long Island car accident attorney is required to inform you of all offers to settle your case. It is your decision to settle the case or move forward with negotiations.
Step Four: You Accept or Reject the Final Offer
If you have not reached an agreement, the claims adjuster may make a final settlement offer. At this point, you will either have to accept the settlement offer or reject it. If you choose to reject it, you will have to prepare to file a personal injury lawsuit and the possibility of taking your case to trial.
If you decide to accept the settlement offer, then negotiations will be complete. You can work with your Long Island car accident attorney to sign the final paperwork and move forward. If the number is closer to what you originally requested, you can be happy knowing that your patience and persistence paid off in the long run.
Work with a Long Island Car Accident Attorney
The New York car accident settlement process can be lengthy. However, over time, it can result in achieving a far more favorable outcome for those who follow a careful strategy. Accepting an initial offer can often lead to getting far less for your claim than what it is worth.
At Siler & Ingber, we understand the challenges of the settlement process. We are here to help. We offer free initial consultations to all of our clients, where we explain your rights and options. Best of all, we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more, contact us online or call us at 1-516-294-2666 to schedule an appointment.