How Long Does The Average Auto Accident Case Take To Resolve?
There is no real average. There are a number of factors that go along with it. The length of a case depends on a number of factors such as the severity of the injury, whether it’s a clear liability– for example, hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk or a rear-end collision– or sideswipe accidents or T-bone type accidents. A lot of times both drivers claim the other one’s at fault, so it’s sort of a he-said, she-said type of situation that tends to delay things.
Certain insurance carriers will try to hold on longer to settle, some are more reasonable than others, certainly certain cases where there has been a complex medical history. We had a lot of complex medical cases where, for example, someone had prior accidents or prior injuries and it takes a while to be able to understand how much of the injury is related to what happened before versus how much of it’s related to now.
I handle a lot of cases where people had prior surgeries, and a lot of attorneys shy away from them, but I like them because I can prove usually with imaging or a prior surgery where a person was medically and what their medical condition was before, so I know I can show definitively what the medical condition is that was caused by this particular car or truck accident or bicycle accident or whatever.
For example, if someone had a rotator cuff tear in the past and the tear has been debrided or cut out surgically and then they have a new tear in another area, a lot of attorneys will shy away from that, however, I like those cases because I know that from the prior surgery, the tear was repaired.
Same thing with spinal conditions, for example, where someone may have had a laminectomy in the past and now they have a new herniation while the laminectomy was surgically repaired so it wasn’t there anymore. So, a lot of those cases where you have somewhat complex medical issues on causation or where an injury, for example, is there before, but made worse by the accident, those tend to take longer.
What Happens if My Medical Bills Are More than the Other Party’s Insurance Can or Will Cover?
Typically, unless you are actually hit by another vehicle, the other party’s insurance doesn’t cover medical bills. Your own insurance company or the insurance company that covers the car that you’re in will cover medical bills.
In the case of a pedestrian or bicyclist hit by another car or in the case of, for example, an occupant of a bus, you see those a lot in Manhattan too that’s involved in an accident, then either the no-fault insurance for that car or the bus or the vehicle that hit the person has to cover and they provide what’s called no-fault benefits. So, it’s really the same as if their own insurance company was covering it because they step into shoes or take the place of your own insurance company and they are obligated to provide no-fault benefits just like you were their insured.
However, in some cases there are situations where the no-fault does, or the hospital bills and medical bills do exceed the no-fault coverage. In those cases, people can use their private health insurance because the no-fault, which is primary insurance, has been expended. Other situations are, for example, if they have two cars, there could be optional, additional no-fault.
Sometimes doctors just continue to treat after no-fault has been expended and they can then either obliterate the bills of the insurance company if they’ve been unfairly denied or improperly denied, or they can take a lien on the balance of the lawsuit. In other words, they have a right to be paid out of the ultimate proceeds of the lawsuit, but some people do pay if they need treatment and they don’t have other insurance and the medical bills are higher than the insurance policy.
What Happens If The Other Party Does Not Have Any Insurance?
New York has a pretty comprehensive solution for the problem of an uninsured driver: it’s called uninsured and unidentified drivers, so if you’re either hit by a driver that is not insured or you are the victim of an uninsured driver, the law in New York State is that every driver has to have what’s called unidentified or uninsured motorist coverage. Basically it means that your own insurance company has to provide you the benefits or the settlements that the other party would have been obligated to pay.
To clarify, your own insurance company steps into shoes of the other driver as soon as you realize that they’re uninsured or unidentified, and you have to make an application with your own insurance company.
Now, in the case of, for example, a bicyclist or a pedestrian who is hit by a car and don’t have their own insurance, in those situations, you have to file an application with the MVAIC, which stands for Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation and that’s basically a public fund that provides benefits to victims of car accidents where the driver was either uninsured or underinsured if you don’t have your own insurance. Usually, you see these cases with pedestrians or people on bicycles.
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