If you were hurt in a car wreck, your case will probably settle out of court. Agreed settlements resolve about 95 percent of the injury cases in New York. Such settlements give the parties much more control over the outcome. Additionally, these arrangements shorten the length of the case, so victims get the compensation they need faster than normal.
However, your claim may not settle right away. In fact, it probably will not settle right away. Negotiations cannot begin in earnest until medical treatment is at least substantially complete. Otherwise, your New York personal injury attorney may not obtain enough money to cover all your losses.
Establishing the Settlement Value
Attorneys begin laying the groundwork for a favorable settlement as soon as the attorney-client partnership begins. Lawyers make sure that victims go to doctors who are highly experienced in this area. Furthermore, attorneys collect evidence, such as the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder and witness statements. EDRs are a lot like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets.
Once these things are in place, an attorney can estimate a claim’s settlement value. Typically, this calculation begins with all the economic damages in a claim. Such losses include:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages, and
- Property damage.
Some of these items, particularly property damage, include more than just raw data. For example, the family car often has an emotional value which exceeds its financial value.
Then, largely based on the facts of the case, an attorney estimates noneconomic damages. Most lawyers start with a base-three multiplier (i.e. fair compensation for noneconomic losses is three times the economic damages) and move that multiplier up or down.
Other factors that come into play include the strength of the victim/plaintiff’s legal case, any insurance company defenses, and the likely makeup of the judge and jury.
Procedural Matters in Litigation
If there is no question as to liability, insurance companies have a legal duty to settle claims within a few weeks. However, there is almost always some dispute in this area, so the insurance company has an excuse to drag things out.
If the claim does not settle straight away, an attorney must file legal paperwork to preserve the victim/plaintiff’s rights. Attention to detail and aggressive representation are both important at this phase. A procedural mistake could create a costly delay. And, if your lawyer does not stand up for you, the judge might find an excuse to throw your claim out of court.
Resolving a New York County Injury Claim
If your claim reaches this point, mediation is probably necessary. During mediation, each lawyer gives a brief opening statement. Then, the mediator goes back and forth between the two sides, conveying settlement offers and counteroffers.
If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful. Legally, parties negotiate in good faith when they are willing to make some sacrifices to get a deal made.
Claims that do not settle at mediation usually go to trial. There, the victim/plaintiff must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Team Up with a Dedicated Attorney
Most injury claims settle out of court, but the process may take some time. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.