Long Island Car Accident Lawsuit Process and Timeline
Most people are fortunate to never be involved in a motor vehicle accident or to never have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Yet this can leave you at a disadvantage if you are involved in a crash. You may not know what to do, or where to turn for help.
After a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault driver. The process usually starts with a demand letter to the insurance company. In some cases, you may need to file a lawsuit and go through litigation to get fair compensation. Depending on the facts of your case, your car accident case may take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to resolve.
Based in Melville, the Odierno Law Firm represents accident victims throughout Long Island. Our skilled car accident lawyers work hard to help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
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Starting a Car Accident Claim
After an automobile accident, the first and most important thing that you should do is seek medical treatment. Once you have been properly diagnosed and have a plan for medical treatment, you can then reach out to a personal injury law firm for a free consultation.
During this appointment, your attorney will listen to your story, and then offer you legal advice about your rights and options for filing a claim. If you decide to hire a personal injury lawyer, then they will get to work right away to investigate the facts of your case, determine who may be responsible for your injuries, and build a strong case for damages (compensation). In a car accident case, your damages may include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
It is often relatively easy to prove damages like medical expenses and property damage, as you will have bills and invoices to demonstrate your losses. These are known as economic damages.
Noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, can be more difficult to prove. Insurance companies often use software programs to estimate noneconomic damages based on economic damages – which usually is a lowball number. An experienced Long Island car accident lawyer will consult with experts and use their own experience with similar cases to determine their own claim for noneconomic damages.
Your attorney will then draft a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. This letter will set out the facts of the case, the legal reasons why their insured is responsible under NY law, and make a demand for damages. Insurance companies will typically respond to a demand letter with a counteroffer, and the negotiation process will begin.
Many car accident claims are resolved at this stage before a lawsuit is even filed. However, insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible on legitimate claims. If the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, then it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in New York state court.
The Car Accident Lawsuit Process
In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 3 years. With a few exceptions, this means that you must file a lawsuit within 3 years of the date of your accident. Your attorney will make sure that your case is filed within these time limits
Filing a lawsuit starts with drafting a complaint. A complaint is a legal document that is filed with the court and then served on the responsible party (defendant). Like a demand letter, it sets out the facts of the case, the legal reason why the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff (injury victim)’s injuries and makes a demand for damages. Complaints must follow a specific format.
Once the complaint has been served on the defendant, then they have between 20 and 30 days to file their response, which is known as an answer. In an answer, the defendant will have an opportunity to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations. They may also raise defenses to the personal injury claim or make counterclaims.
At this point, the pretrial process begins. The parties will engage in discovery, where they exchange information. Discovery may take four forms:
- Interrogatories are written questions that the other party must object to or answer.
- Depositions, or oral testimony before a court reporter where an attorney asks questions of a witness.
- Requests for production, where one party asks another party to produce evidence (which may be documents, photos, videos, or other evidence).
- Requests for admissions, where one party asks the other party to admit or deny certain statements.
Discovery can take months to complete – or longer. The parties will continue the settlement process throughout this time. As more information is exchanged, each side learns more about the strengths and weaknesses of their case, which may help them achieve an accident settlement.
During this time, a Long Island personal injury attorney will also file legal documents (motions) with the court. These motions ask the court to do something, such as exclude a certain type of evidence. The court will make a ruling on the motions.
Negotiations will typically continue up until the eve of trial. Some cases may even settle on the morning of trial! If the case doesn’t settle, then a jury will be selected.
During trial, your personal injury attorney will present witnesses and evidence and make arguments on your behalf. The defendant will also have an opportunity to do the same. The case will then go to a jury, who will render a verdict. A trial could last for several days.
Depending on the outcome, one or both parties may file an appeal. The appeals process involves making legal arguments to a higher court.
Timeline for Resolving a Long Island Car Accident Claim
The timeline for resolving an auto accident claim may vary considerably based on a number of factors, such as:
- Whether liability is contested;
- The evidence available to prove faults, such as witness statements and accident reports;
- If there is any issue related to comparative negligence; and
- The insurance carrier’s willingness to offer a fair settlement.
In many cases, car accident claims are resolved within a matter of months. However, if you file a lawsuit, it may take a year or longer to go through discovery and negotiate a settlement. If the case goes to trial, then it will take at least a year for the pretrial process to be completed and to get a trial scheduled.
Working with an experienced Long Island car accident attorney is the best way to get your case settled quickly – and for full value. Insurance companies know that when accident victims have legal representation, they will fight for their right to maximum compensation. As a result, they are more likely to offer a fair settlement for your injuries.
Will My Car Accident Case Go to Trial?
Probably not. Studies show that the vast majority of car accident claims are resolved without going to trial. That being said, it may be necessary to take a negligent party and their insurance company to court to get the money that you deserve for your injuries.
With more than 150 years of combined experience, the legal team at the Odierno Law Firm knows how to get results for accident victims. Give our law office a call today to schedule a free consultation with a Long Island personal injury lawyer.
An Insurance Adjuster Offered Me a Settlement. Should I Accept It?
No. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they do so by underpaying or denying car accident claims. While it may be tempting to accept a settlement offer so that you get money quickly, it will usually result in you not having enough money to cover your losses.
At The Odierno Law Firm, we understand that many of our clients are concerned about getting paid quickly so that they can alleviate financial stress. We will work with you to help you achieve your goals – and get you top dollar for your claim. Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation with a Long Island car accident attorney.
How Much Is My Car Accident Case Worth?
It depends. There are lots of factors that affect the value of a personal injury claim, such as the limits of the defendant’s auto accident policy, the extent and severity of your injuries, and whether you were partially at fault for the crash. The key to recovering maximum compensation is to work with a seasoned personal injury attorney who will fight for you.
During a free consultation, your lawyer will give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your case. Over time, this number may change. Call the Odierno Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.
Help for Injury Victims
After a car accident, you may not know where to turn for help. You may be facing steep medical bills, dealing with lost wages, and unsure of how you’ll manage everything. Our law firm is here for you.
The Odierno Law Firm advocates for the rights of accident victims throughout Long Island. We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you are never charged a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer, give us a call at 631-752-8580 or fill out our online contact form.
Call The Odierno Law Firm, P.C. at (631) 752-8580 to discover your legal options in a free initial consultation!
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We are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. We are determined to fight for you. We have a no recovery, no fee policy, so you don’t pay unless we win.Contact Us
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