How Long Do Pedestrian Accident Claims Take to Settle?

pedestrian accident
Posted: June 5, 2024

If a pedestrian accident injured you or a loved one in New York, you may wonder how long it will take to settle a claim and receive compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.

The answer depends on many factors, but pedestrian accident claims can often take a long time to fully resolve. Several key factors affect the timeline of a pedestrian accident claim and how quickly you move through the steps involved in the legal process.

If you or a loved one is injured in a pedestrian accident, reach out to a pedestrian accident lawyer for legal assistance.

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Factors That Affect the Timeline of a Pedestrian Accident Claim

Several key elements influence how long a pedestrian accident claim may take to settle:

Severity of Injuries

The severity of the pedestrian’s injuries plays a significant role in the claim’s timeline. If the pedestrian suffered catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, crush injuries, or multiple fractures, the medical treatment and recovery process will be lengthy.

In these cases, it’s important to wait until the victim reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI) before settling the claim. MMI means the injuries have stabilized, and the long-term impacts are more clearly understood.

This ensures the settlement accounts for all current and future medical expenses, ongoing care needs, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

On the other hand, if the pedestrian’s injuries were more minor, such as scrapes, bruises, or a simple fracture, the claim may settle in a shorter period. With less severe injuries, your lawyer can assess the full extent of damages more quickly.

Disputes Over Liability

Another key factor in the timeline of a pedestrian accident claim is whether liability is clear or contested. When evidence clearly shows the driver was at fault, such as running a red light or stop sign, the insurance company is more likely to settle the claim without much pushback.

However, if questions arise about fault or the insurance company tries to argue that the pedestrian was fully or partially to blame, this can significantly extend the claims process.

Liability disputes often lead to lengthy investigations and negotiations as each side works to build their case and establish fault. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to file a lawsuit, adding to the timeline.

Insurance Company Cooperation

Insurance companies aim to pay out as little as possible on claims to protect their bottom line. Some insurers are more cooperative than others in negotiating settlements with claimants. If you’re dealing with a responsive, reasonable insurance company that is willing to negotiate in good faith, the claims process will likely move quicker.

However, some insurance companies purposely drag their feet and employ tactics to delay and deny claims. They may take an unreasonably long time to respond to communications, request unnecessary documentation, or make lowball settlement offers to pressure claimants into accepting less than they deserve.

If the insurance company is uncooperative, it can extend the timeline significantly as your attorney works to hold them accountable and keep the process moving forward.

Amount of Damages

The amount of compensation sought in a pedestrian accident claim can impact the time it takes to settle. Claims involving substantial damages, such as those with high medical bills, long-term disability, or extensive pain and suffering, often take longer to resolve.

Insurance companies tend to fight high-value claims more aggressively to minimize payouts, which can lead to prolonged negotiations and potentially the need for a lawsuit.

In contrast, smaller claims with more modest damages may be settled more quickly, as the insurance company may determine it’s more cost-effective to pay the claim rather than drag out the process and incur legal fees.

Caseload of the Court

If a pedestrian accident lawsuit must be filed to seek fair compensation, the court’s caseload can affect the timeline. If the court is backlogged with a high volume of cases, it may take longer to get a trial date and reach a resolution.

Courts in more populated areas tend to have more crowded dockets than those in smaller towns or rural areas.

Additionally, criminal cases often take precedence over civil matters, so if the court is dealing with a surge in criminal trials, it can extend the timeline for civil cases like pedestrian accident lawsuits. The COVID-19 pandemic also created a backlog in many courts as proceedings were postponed, so courts are still catching up on delayed cases.

While court caseload is not something you can control, an experienced pedestrian accident attorney understands how to navigate the court system efficiently and will work to keep your case on track and moving forward.

So, to recap, a straightforward pedestrian accident claim with minor injuries and clear liability may be settled in as little as a few months, while a claim involving severe injuries, liability disputes, or other complicating factors will usually take a year or longer. Complex claims can sometimes take two to three years to fully resolve.

The Pedestrian Accident Claims Process

Accident Claims ProcessTo understand why pedestrian accident claims can be lengthy, it’s helpful to know the steps involved in the legal process of obtaining compensation:

  • Seek medical attention: The first priority after a pedestrian crash is getting proper medical care. Seeing a doctor right away is important for health and also for documenting injuries to support an accident claim.
  • Consult with an attorney: Pedestrian accident claims can be complex, so discuss the situation with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can explain your rights and options for seeking compensation. Look for an attorney who offers a free initial consultation and works on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only collect legal fees if and when they secure a settlement or court award on your behalf.
  • File an insurance claim: Your attorney will gather evidence such as the accident report, witness statements, photos/video footage, and medical records and bills to prepare a solid pedestrian injury claim. The claim is filed with the at-fault party’s insurance company, usually the driver who struck you.
  • Insurance company investigation: After receiving the claim, the insurance company will investigate the accident, often sending out its own investigators or adjusters to collect information and determine liability. It may also request further documentation.
  • Negotiating a settlement: Once a pedestrian accident claim is filed, settlement negotiations will likely begin between your attorney and the insurance company. Your lawyer’s role is to present the facts and advocate for maximum compensation on your behalf. The insurance company’s first settlement offer is often low, and negotiations can involve multiple rounds of counteroffers.
  • Filing a pedestrian accident lawsuit: Most pedestrian accident claims are settled out of court. However, if the insurance company denies the claim or refuses to make a fair settlement offer, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary to obtain proper compensation. Settlement negotiations can continue after a lawsuit is filed, and many pedestrian accident lawsuits are settled before going to trial.
  • Discovery phase: If the pedestrian accident lawsuit proceeds, the discovery phase is where each side investigates the other side’s legal claims and defenses. They exchange evidence and relevant documents and may also take depositions of the parties, witnesses, and experts. Discovery can take six months to a year, sometimes longer.
  • Mediation and negotiation: Before a pedestrian accident lawsuit goes to trial, the attorneys will often continue trying to negotiate a settlement. Some courts require the parties to participate in mediation, where a neutral third party helps facilitate discussions to try to resolve the case.
  • Going to trial: If a settlement agreement still can’t be reached, the case will proceed to trial. A pedestrian accident trial can take anywhere from a day to several weeks. The judge or jury will determine if the defendant is at fault and, if so, how much compensation to award the plaintiff. Even if a judgment is entered in your favor, the defendant can file an appeal, which could add more months to the timeline.
  • Receiving compensation: Once a pedestrian accident claim finally settles through negotiations or a court judgment, the insurance company typically pays out the agreed-upon compensation within a few weeks to a month.

The entire process, from filing a claim to receiving a settlement or court award, often takes many months or even a year or two for pedestrian accident cases. Claims involving serious injuries, liability disputes, or going to trial are more likely to extend beyond a year.

While this can feel like a long time to wait for compensation, being patient and persistent in fighting for your rights with the guidance of a skilled pedestrian accident attorney is the best approach.

Why It’s Worth the Wait to Obtain Fair Compensation

Although the pedestrian accident claims process can be lengthy and sometimes frustrating, never rush into accepting an unfair settlement offer. Once you accept an insurance company’s offer, the claim essentially closes, and you give up your right to seek further compensation in the future.

When pedestrian accidents result in significant injuries, wait for a thorough medical assessment and for the full extent of economic and non-economic damages to come into focus so you can obtain a truly fair settlement that accounts for your current and future needs.

An experienced pedestrian accident attorney knows the tactics insurance companies often use to minimize, delay, and deny claims. They will work diligently on your behalf to build the strongest case possible and keep the claims process moving forward while you focus on your health and recovery.

Whether it takes a few months or a couple of years, your attorney will fight for the maximum compensation you need and deserve.

Tips for Supporting Your Pedestrian Accident Claim

While you can’t control every factor that influences the timeline of a pedestrian accident claim, to help your claim go as smoothly and quickly as possible:

  • Seek prompt medical care and follow your doctor’s treatment plan
  • Gather evidence from the accident scene if you’re able, such as photos and witness contact info
  • Keep thorough records of your injuries, medical care, and how the accident has impacted your life
  • Consult with a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible and be responsive to their questions and requests for information
  • Refrain from discussing the accident on social media, and don’t post photos or videos that could be used to argue against the severity of your injuries.
  • Don’t give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company without consulting your attorney
  • Consider attending mediation in good faith if it’s required or recommended as part of the legal process
  • Be patient and don’t accept a lowball settlement offer just to resolve your claim faster

Contact a Trusted Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

While the pedestrian accident claims process can feel slow, understanding the factors involved and having an experienced attorney on your side can make it more manageable.

Contact the skilled legal team at William Mattar Law Offices if a pedestrian accident injures you. We offer free consultations, and our pedestrian accident attorneys serve clients throughout New York State.

We’re here to fight for your rights and help you secure the financial recovery you need to move forward after a serious pedestrian crash. Contact us today at (716) 444-4444 or through our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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