What to Expect in a Vehicle Collision Claim

For various reasons, roughly 97 percent of all injury cases settle out of court. These settlements usually benefit everyone. Trials are usually expensive, time-consuming, and unpredictable. Agreed settlements, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive in terms of legal fees, reduce the amount of litigation my several months in many cases, and give the parties complete control over the outcome.

Settlement may occur at any time. In fact, many times, Brooklyn personal injury attorneys settle these matters quickly before court papers are even filed. Nevertheless, most cases follow the same general outline, as explored below.


Demand Letter

The first step of a personal injury claim is often the most important step as well. This significance underscores the need for early and effective legal representation.

As the name implies, demand letters demand a certain sum of money in exchange for a liability waiver.

Calculating economic losses is usually a straightforward process. An attorney calculates the amount of medical bills, lost wages, and other such losses. But there are some complexities.

New York law only allows victim/plaintiffs to recover the amount of medical expenses they paid, as opposed to the amount billed. So, in the unlikely event that a health insurance policy covered some of these expenses, an attorney must adjust the amount. Furthermore, many property damage claims do not just involve financial loss. The family car often has an emotional value as well. The same thing applies to any personal effects lost in the crash. Generally, New York law allows victims to receive compensation for these losses.

To determine noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, most New York personal injury attorneys multiply the economic damages by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case.

Typically, attorneys cannot settle the case until medical treatment is at least substantially complete. Otherwise, the settlement amount may not be high enough to cover all future medical expenses, and it is very difficult to reopen settled cases.

If liability is reasonably clear, the insurance company has a legal duty to quickly settle the case. But typically, there is at least some question about liability. So, most cases proceed to the next phase.


Filing Suit

To protect the victim’s rights, attorneys must often file legal paperwork. Attention to detail is important at this point. If a lawyer files paperwork in the wrong place or in the wrong way, the mistake could alter the outcome of the case.

Generally, insurance company lawyers file motions asking the judge to throw the claim out of court. New York judges almost always overrule these motions. Alternatively, they often allow personal injury attorneys to start over.

Some cases settle at this point. Once the insurance company understands that the victim has a serious and skilled personal injury attorney, their representatives are often willing to talk.



Some cases remain unresolved, and most judges refer these matters to mediation, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution.

At mediation, a neutral third party, who is usually an unaffiliated New York personal injury attorney, tries to facilitate a settlement between the victim and insurance company. After each side gives a brief opening argument, the mediator goes back and forth between the two parties, conveying settlement offers and counter-offers. These exchanges usually last several hours.

If both parties negotiate in good faith and with open minds, mediation is generally successful. If it is not successful, the case usually proceeds to trial.


Connect with a Brooklyn Car Accident Attorney

Out-of-court settlements may happen quickly, or they may take some time. For a free consultation with an experienced Brooklyn car accident lawyer, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. We routinely handle matters in Queens County and nearby jurisdictions.