How Long Does it Take to Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering after a Car Accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, it probably didn’t take long for the injury to have a real, visible impact on your daily life—especially if you missed time from work. Lost wages and medical expenses can add up fast, and the frustration associated with not being able to do ordinary hobbies and chores is maddening.
If this is the case, you are probably wondering how long it would take to successfully make a claim for pain and suffering. The answer may not be entirely satisfactory, but it’s the truth: it depends. Every situation is unique, and only an experienced car accident attorney can review the particular facts of your situation and provide an opinion.
Read on to explore some of the factors an attorney may consider when determining whether you have a claim for pain and suffering and, if so, how long it might take to complete the claim.
Do I have a claim for pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is not an out-of-pocket expense like lost wages or medical bills, but instead the human experience someone goes through after sustaining personal injuries, including emotional anguish and loss of enjoyment in life.
New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means that your ability to make a claim for pain and suffering after a car accident is sometimes limited. Because lost wages and medical expenses are paid by the no-fault insurance carrier regardless of fault, in most cases you will have to show a “serious injury” in order to recover for pain and suffering. The term “serious injury” is defined to mean a personal injury which results in either:
- significant disfigurement;
- a fracture;
- loss of a fetus;
- permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
- permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- significant limitation of use of a body function or system;
- or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
As you can see, some serious injury categories are relatively straightforward (e.g. death, fracture, loss of a fetus), while others seem unclear. In any event, New York law provides that you cannot make a claim for pain and suffering unless your injuries qualify under at least one of the above categories.
If there’s a question of whether or not your injuries qualify as a serious injury, that may lengthen the time it takes to receive compensation for pain and suffering. If you have questions about whether or not your injuries qualify as serious injury, you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer who has knowledge of this area of law.
What is the “value” of my pain and suffering?
Compensation for pain and suffering basically substitutes a specific amount of money for human experience, which can be a pretty subjective thing. What is the value of your inability to jog or run like you used to? Walk around the block? Sleep restfully? Spend quality time with your family members?
It can be difficult to substitute a dollar figure for human experiences, but that is how compensation for pain and suffering works, and it serves an important purpose in our society because it requires people who hurt others to pay for the pain caused. It also allows hurt people to be made “whole.”
If you can show you sustained a “serious injury” and the other driver bears some responsibility for the collision, there is no question you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. The only question will be the amount of that compensation, and whether there is sufficient insurance coverage to pay for it.
In determining the amount of compensation for pain and suffering, a jury would take into account a different factors, including what you were able to do before the accident, and the degree to which your day-to-day activities have been affected since the accident. The jury also could take into account the physical pain and limitations you experience, and its frequency.
How much insurance coverage is available?
In determining whether there is sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your pain and suffering, you will have to identify all liable parties (that is, the individuals and entities who caused your injuries), and all insurance coverage available to those parties. If those parties do not have insurance coverage, or lack sufficient insurance coverage, you may need to look at your own insurance coverage to see if it can make up the difference.
In most cases, if the amount of compensation for pain and suffering clearly exceeds the amount of insurance coverage and the insurance company acknowledges this, the time it takes to receive compensation should not be very long.
If, however, the insurance company believes the amount of insurance coverage far exceeds the appropriate amount for compensation for pain and suffering, the parties may reach an impasse and settlement may not occur. When the parties are not able to make mutual concessions through settlement, the case will then proceed to trial where a jury, or possibly a judge, can make the determination.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney at William Mattar
As you can see, when it comes to determining how long it will take you to receive compensation for pain and suffering after a car accident, there is no clear answer. The car accident attorneys at William Mattar Law Offices can review your case and do everything in their power to maximize your recovery for pain and suffering in the least amount of time. Call us today for a free consultation at (844) 444-4444.