If you have been hurt in an accident in New York City that was caused by another person, you may be uncertain about your rights. For example, you may be wondering whether you can file a lawsuit – and if so, how long it will take to get paid for your losses. While the time that it takes to settle a claim may vary, insurance companies do have certain obligations under New York law.
Generally, insurers must acknowledge receipt of a claim form and start an investigation within 15 business days. They must also process the claim in good faith, without any undue delays. An experienced New York City personal injury lawyer can advocate for you to ensure that you get a fair settlement – and timely payment for your property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and more.
Based in Melville, The Odierno Law Firm represents accident victims throughout Long Island and New York City. We offer free initial consultations and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a legal team member, reach out to our law offices today.
How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Respond to a Claim?
Insurance companies must acknowledge receipt of a claim within 15 business days. New York law also provides that insurers must start an investigation of a claim within 15 business days of receiving notice of the claim. During this time period, insurance companies must also provide a notification of all statements and claim forms that will be required of the claimant.
While insurers must acknowledge claims and start an investigation within 15 days, there is no specific requirement that the investigation be completed or the claim be resolved within a particular period of time. Instead, an insurance company must process claims in good faith. Depending on the facts of a particular claim, it could take weeks, months, or even years to settle or otherwise resolve a claim.
Once an insurance company has completed its investigation, however, it has 15 days to notify a claimant as to whether it is accepting or denying the claim. Insurers can seek additional time to finalize a claim, however, by sending written notice to the claimant that additional time is needed and the reasons why.
Average Time to Settle a Claim in NYC
After you are involved in a car accident, slip and fall, or other type of accident in New York, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster for the at-fault party’s insurance company. They may tell you that they accept liability, ask you to give a statement or sign some paperwork, or even offer you a settlement. No matter how friendly or helpful the adjuster may seem, you should never talk to them or sign any documentation until after you have had a chance to talk to a NYC personal injury attorney.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. When they offer to resolve a claim, there is very little chance that it will be a fair settlement. In fact, the settlement almost certainly won’t cover the full scope of your losses.
Instead of accepting a quick settlement from the adjuster, you should reach out to a personal injury law firm to schedule a free consultation. During this appointment, they will explain your rights and your options for pursuing a claim. They will also give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your claim.
If you decide to move forward with the law firm, they will get to work to investigate the facts of the case and reach relevant New York law. They will then draft what is known as a demand letter. This letter will lay out all of the facts of the case, explain why their insured is legally responsible, and make a demand for damages (compensation).
Remember: Insurance companies have 15 days from the date that they close the investigation to accept or deny a claim. When your lawyer sends a demand letter, it will contain a lot of information, including facts that the insurer may need to finish an investigation. For this reason, insurance carriers often respond to a demand letter within 15 days.
From there, the parties will typically go back and forth to negotiate a settlement. There is no average time to settle a claim in New York City, as each case is unique. If liability is clear, then the case may be settled in a matter of weeks or months. However, if you need to file a lawsuit and/or the insurance company is denying some aspect of the claim, then it may take a year or longer to settle your claim for injuries.
Factors That Could Delay the Process
There are several factors that can delay an insurance settlement. First, New York is a no-fault insurance state (also known as personal injury protection or PIP). This means that if you are filing an auto accident claim, you must first seek coverage through your own insurance policy for medical bills and lost wages. If your losses exceed your PIP coverage, then you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy.
Second, the severity of your injuries and the need for ongoing medical treatment can delay the settlement process. Generally, if you need extensive medical care, it will take longer to resolve a case. That is because your attorney will want to wait until they have a better picture of your medical bills and future medical needs before resolving a case.
If they settle the case before you have recovered, you may not get the money that you need for your injuries. As a rule, you will want to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement before settling a claim. At this point, you will have a fuller picture of your medical expenses in addition to any future medical needs, including any necessary modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate a disability. Waiting can also help you get a better understanding of your ability to work in the future based on your injuries.
Third, if the claim involves catastrophic injuries that will result in a large settlement, insurance companies may more aggressively push back against a fair settlement. They may focus on economic damages – like property damage and medical bills – to exclude non-economic damages like emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life. In this situation, insurers often use a variety of strategies to attempt to resolve the case for as little money as possible.
For example, insurance companies often use computer programs that tally up your direct financial losses and then come up with a settlement amount using an algorithm. These programs rarely account for the full scope of your losses, like your pain and suffering or the impact of scarring or disfigurement. Insurers may act like they can’t deviate from this computer-generated number – but that simply is not true.
Fourth, having legal representation can often help to ensure that a claim is resolved efficiently. Insurance companies are known for employing delay tactics. When you have an attorney by your side that knows New York law, insurers can’t play these games and stall your claim.
In the example above, if an insurance company insists on a settlement number based on a computer program instead of your actual losses, your lawyer can put together an argument for why this amount is insufficient. They can also push an insurance company to respond in a timely fashion and to stop playing games.
Fifth, if there are factual discrepancies or questions as to liability, it may take longer to resolve the claim. The insurance company may do a more in-depth investigation, or the case may ultimately proceed to trial. Going through the legal process can take months or even years, but it may be necessary to get the compensation that you deserve for your losses.
In some situations, an insurance company may push back against an accident claim on the basis that you were partially at fault. However, under New York’s comparative negligence laws, you can still recover financial compensation even if you are partially at fault for an accident. Your lawyer can help to ensure that you get the money that you deserve, even if you were somewhat to blame for an accident.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
One of the more frustrating aspects of being involved in an accident is that it isn’t always easy or straightforward to get a fair settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Too often, the insurer will offer a lowball settlement or otherwise attempt to delay your claim and avoid paying you maximum compensation. Our legal team will aggressively advocate for your right to full compensation.
The Odierno Law Firm fights for the rights of accident victims in New York City and Long Island. We will work hard to make sure that you get full compensation for your injuries, and that you get timely payment for your claim. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, reach out to our law offices at 631-933-1304 or fill out our online contact form.
The Odierno Law Firm, P.C., a personal injury firm serving the residents of Long Island, has been dedicated to helping the wrongfully injured recover the compensation that they deserve for the past 30 years. The legal team at our firm handles a wide variety of injury cases such as: auto accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death and many more! Our firm understands how devastating it can be to suffer a serious injury at the hands of a negligent party or individual, and for this reason, we do whatever we can to help our clients obtain the justice that they are looking for. If you have been involved in an accident and you believe that someone else is responsible for causing your injuries, do not hesitate to contact an experienced lawyer from our firm today. We offer a free consultation to anyone that is looking for answers.