While you may get a different impression from ads, TV shows, and films, the vast majority of car accident cases are resolved through settlement rather than going to trial. Instead of a courtroom battle, the parties agree to an amount to compensate the victim and the claim is resolved. Because the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has established regulations on minimum auto insurance, an insurance company will be the party paying the victim according to the terms of the settlement agreement.
However, there are still many auto crash claims that do go to court, so it is possible that yours could be one of them. In general, the underlying reason is that you cannot reach an agreement with the insurer, but there are many other subtle explanations. Your New York car accident lawyer will advise you on the factors that play a role in forcing your case to litigation, but a few include:
Lowball Offer from the Insurer: An insurance company is a for-profit business, so your claim for compensation is a threat to its financial interests. Therefore, you can expect that your demand for payment will be met with a lower counteroffer – or perhaps even a denial. In some cases, your lawyer may still be able to negotiate a fair settlement through discussions with the claims adjuster. If negotiations fail, a lawsuit may be the only option for getting monetary damages in an amount sufficient to cover your losses.
Challenges with Proof: There are two key issues that can present hurdles when it comes to proving your right to compensation:
- Fault: You need to have sufficient evidence demonstrating how the other driver was responsible for the auto crash. If you lack proof of negligence, the insurance company will assert that its policyholder did not cause the accident.
- Injuries: Your medical records are strong evidence of your injuries, but you may encounter issues with proof if they are thin. You can alleviate the issue by having honest, detailed discussions with your treating physicians, who will include this information in your chart.
You Did Not Meet the No Fault Threshold: New York is a “no-fault” state for purposes of car accidents, which means that injured drivers are required to seek compensation from their own insurance companies – regardless of who caused the collision. You would file a claim under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which the New York State Department of Financial Services requires all motorists to purchase. The only way you can pursue the other driver’s insurance company for monetary damages is if:
- You meet the no-fault threshold, i.e., showing that you suffer from serious injuries that result in permanent partial disability; and,
- You have sufficient proof that the vehicle collision was the other driver’s fault.
Benefits of Settling Your Car Accident Claim: Statistics demonstrate one key advantage to settling your claim via agreement: The US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reveals that plaintiffs who take their case to court only prevail 57 percent of the time. In addition:
- Settlement provides you with certainty regarding compensation;
- By settling, you eliminate the risk of an unfavorable outcome at trial; and,
- You can often reach and finalize settlement in weeks, a much shorter time than the litigation process.
Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney for More Information
At The Mandel Law Firm, our goal is to obtain the best possible outcome in your auto collision case, whether your interests are served by settling or taking your lawsuit to trial. If you would like more information on how our team can assist with your case, please contact our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or via our website. We can set up a free case evaluation with a lawyer who can explain the legal process.