New York personal injury lawyers like me get this question all the time. The answer is complex, but explaining complex things to judges, juries and clients, is what we do for a living. We are essentially in the “communication” business. So here goes:
- Most often it is not a good idea to settle your claim until you are done treating or at least until your doctor can render an opinion on what – if any – permanent injuries you have. This often takes a year or longer. Insurance adjusters won’t give you anything for “permanent” injuries until your medical records make it clear that they are permanent. This can usually happen only a year or longer after your injury, or even longer if the injuries are very serious.
- If the insurance adjuster is disputing “liability”, that is, he or she says the defendant was not at fault, or that the accident was partially your fault, the case may take longer. We may need to sue. Only by suing can we take depositions. Once we nail down the defendant’s and witnesses’ sworn testimony at deposition, we can show the insurance adjuster the accident was all defendant’s fault. If there is still a dispute about liability after depositions, we may have to go to trial to prove we are right. This judicial process takes months or even years!
- If the insurance adjuster undervalues your case, we will have to take them to court to prove the true value. If you settle without going to court, you sell yourself short. Some clients actually prefer this to going to court, and that’s OK with us. It is always the client’s decision. But if you don’t want to take the “low ball” offer, you have to be willing to go to court, and all that can take up to a year or longer.
In sum, you only get one chance— one bite at the apple—to settle your case. If you settle before your case is “ripe”, you will usually be “selling yourself short”. You won’t get all the compensation you deserve.
Think of your New York personal injury case as an investment. Smart investors are patient. They only “cash out” when the timing is right. Most investments need time to pay off. Injury cases are usually no different. If you rush to cash out your investment, you usually shoot yourself in the foot. Smart investors are patient. Remember, we are in the same boat with you. We don’t get paid till you get paid. So we have no reason to dilly dally. We are invested together in your case, and we both need to wait till the “timing” is right to cash out the investment.
Hope this explanation helped. If you want to discuss this, give me a call!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.