Can I Settle My NY Car Accident Case Without Going to Court?

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    If you were involved in a car accident and you need damages and compensation, you might be interested in filing an insurance claim or settling the case without going to court.  While our attorneys cannot recommend avoiding court in every case, it is important to understand how and when you can settle a car accident case without involving a judge and jury.

    Generally, any injury case can legally be settled without going to court.  Talking to the defendant and accepting payment is, technically, a settlement, and that does not require going to court at all.  Similarly, accepting money from an insurance claim is a settlement that does not involve the courts, either.  However, New York car accident cases are complex, and settling out of court might mean missing out on important damages or getting a low offer.

    For a free case review, call the NY car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.

    Can You Settle Car Accident Cases in New York Without Going to Court?

    Technically, you can settle any case without going to court.  If you tell the other party that they did something wrong, and they offer to pay you for the harm, that is a settlement, legally speaking.  This kind of thing happens all the time, especially with minor car accidents.  However, you might not want to settle this way in every car accident case.

    Especially when it comes to minor bumps and low-speed fender benders, parties often settle out of court.  In cases where one party simply pays the other party for the damage, that is legally considered a settlement (though it might be illegal not to report the accident to the police and a violation of your insurance policy not to report it to your insurance carrier).  Courts are also out of the picture when the case is filed through insurance and the driver’s insurance pays for damages.

    If you accept a settlement in this way – from the other driver or their insurance company – that kind of settlement is legally binding.  That means that if you end up discovering additional damage later that you did not get compensation for, the terms of your settlement will often prevent you from going back and getting additional damages.

    As such, it is very important that you do not accept any money from the other driver or their insurance company without having our Brooklyn car accident lawyers analyze your case.  If you settle and end up with a lot of unpaid damages, there might be no way to get them covered later – and some damages simply are not available outside of court.

    What Damages Can You Settle for Without Going to Court in a NY Car Accident Case?

    Generally, insurance in New York works by having each driver carry their own insurance to cover their own injuries.  This is called a no-fault system, as your own insurance company will pay you no matter who caused the car crash.  Vehicle damage is handled differently; each driver carries liability insurance to cover the damage they cause others.  When you settle with your own insurance company, you can get medical bills covered, plus some lost wages.  When you settle with the other driver’s liability insurance, you can get property damage paid for.

    Generally, getting a payout from your own insurance does not function as a settlement in the legal sense that blocks you from getting further damages.  However, accepting a payout from the other driver’s insurance for your vehicle damage usually will.  That means that nothing beyond these damages will be available to you going forward.

    It might not be obvious now, but there are important damages missing from these settlements.  In New York, insurance simply does not pay for pain and suffering without additional thresholds being met.

    Suing for Pain and Suffering in a New York Car Accident Case

    Generally speaking, you cannot file a claim for pain and suffering, medical bills, or lost wages against the defendant’s insurance unless you have “serious injuries.”  This standard is defined by law to include broken bones, long-term injuries, permanent injuries, and death, among others.  Insurance companies are usually unwilling to pay these damages even if your injuries are sufficiently severe, and they often need to be sued in court to get you access to these damages.

    Because of these rules, settling without going to court could mean leaving a lot of money on the table.  After you file your case in court, you can still settle – but at that point, pain and suffering damages will be part of your negotiations.  This will also mean negotiating for additional lost wages and other expenses, as your insurance usually puts a low limit on these damages – a limit that does not exist in a lawsuit.  Suing in court can also open access to additional punitive damages in rare cases.

    When Should I Sue Instead of Settling My NY Car Accident Case?

    As mentioned, pain and suffering damages are not always available in an out-of-court settlement.  Having injuries that involve pain and suffering, mental and emotional damages, or lost quality of life is one reason to avoid settling and consider taking your case to court instead.  However, there are other reasons you should seek out a lawyer and go to court with your case instead of just accepting money from the insurance company:

    Low Settlements

    Many insurance companies will try to undercut what your case is truly worth and leave you with only a fraction of the damages you deserve.  If you do not consult with a lawyer, you might not have the experience with car accident cases to even recognize that this is happening.

    Bad Negotiations

    If insurance offers are low, you can often appeal them or turn to a lawyer to negotiate a better offer for you.  If negotiations are going poorly and they refuse to give you the full damages they owe you, going to court might be your best option.

    Companies and Corporations Involved

    In many car accident cases involving commercial drivers and truckers, there will be a trucking company or another big corporation behind the driver.  They will have legal teams in place to try to shut down claims, so you should consider calling a lawyer and going to court to avoid them trying to take advantage of you.  Before a judge and jury, companies like this will have fewer options to avoid fair play and fair payment.

    Call Our NY Car Accident Lawyers Today

    If you were hurt in a car accident, call The Carrion Law Firm’s Bronx car accident attorneys at (718) 841-0083 now.