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How Car Accident Settlements Work

Seth Harris

Last modified on October 30, 2023

How Car Accident Settlements Work

Have you been hurt in an NYC car accident? If so, you know that the financial cost of such an experience can be quite high. And your injuries aren’t just painful—they may also require costly medical treatment that hurts your bank account. Paying for your care can be even more difficult if you can’t return to work due to your injuries.

You have the right to seek compensation for such losses in New York. Nevertheless, the process of securing a car accident settlement may be confusing if this experience is new to you.

Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate it alone. Our New York car accident lawyers at Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb can help pursue your desired settlement. We’ll handle all the major steps in the process so you can focus on healing.

Call us today at 1-800-PAIN-LAW or contact us online for a free case evaluation to discuss where to start.

What Does the NYC Car Accident Settlement Process Involve?

New York is a no-fault car accident state. Registered vehicle owners in New York are legally required to buy Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage compensates a policyholder for medical expenses and partially lost wages after a crash, regardless of who caused it.

The claim settlement process in New York involves:

  • Reporting the crash to a local police department
  • Reporting the crash to your insurance company in writing no later than 30 days after the collision
  • Receiving a letter from your insurer explaining the benefits available, along with an Application for Benefits form
  • Completing and returning the Application for Benefits form

Options when you need medical treatment include:

  • Paying for your treatment and submitting receipts to your insurer for reimbursement
  • Instructing the doctor or medical facility to bill your insurer

You should hire a NYC car accident lawyer instead of working directly with an insurer on your own. An insurance adjuster may not offer the full car accident settlement you deserve if you work with them directly. A car crash attorney can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Hire a lawyer early so that you don’t have to deal with an insurance adjuster yourself.

A motor vehicle accident attorney may also help in other ways after a crash. For instance, a lawyer could connect you with doctors who will wait until you receive a settlement to bill you.

What Does No-Fault Insurance Cover in NYC?

A basic PIP coverage policy covers:

  • Necessary medical treatment/rehabilitation for car accident injuries
  • Partial income replacement
  • Reasonable daily expenses (such as the cost of traveling to medical appointments)
  • Death benefits if a loved one passes in a crash

You can’t seek compensation for pain and suffering or other losses that don’t have a dollar value through no-fault insurance. However, you may still have the right to pursue this type of compensation in certain instances.

What Is the Process for Filing a Separate Car Accident Lawsuit in NYC?

The no-fault system doesn’t always stop you from filing a claim or lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your wreck. If your injuries qualify as “serious,” you may have this option. Filing a separate personal injury claim allows you to seek compensation for losses PIP doesn’t cover.

Arriving at a car accident settlement in these circumstances involves:

  • Investigating to establish liability
  • Gathering evidence to show a negligent party caused your injuries
  • Submitting a demand letter to the negligent party’s insurance requesting compensation
  • Entering into negotiations with the insurance company if they don’t immediately offer a fair insurance settlement

An attorney can handle all these tasks on your behalf. They may also represent you in court if the insurance company doesn’t offer a reasonable settlement. You may pursue compensation through a lawsuit if this happens.

Mediation and NYC Car Accident Settlements

Going to court isn’t the only option you may have when an insurance company doesn’t offer a fair settlement in NYC. Mediation is also an option.

Mediation involves a neutral third party facilitating discussions between the parties involved in negotiations. It’s not a mediator’s job to take sides. Instead, a mediator listens to both sides of the argument and attempts to help them resolve a dispute out of court.

A mediator cannot force an outcome. You don’t have to agree to a car accident settlement at the end of the mediation process if an offer is still too low. However, trying mediation before going to court may be a way to save time and money.

What Is the Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Claim in NYC?

The deadline for filing a claim after a car accident in NYC can depend on the type of claim you file. Injured parties must file claims with their PIP coverage providers within 30 days of their crashes. If you miss this deadline, you must submit written proof that you had a valid reason for missing it.

Under New York Law, you must file a personal injury lawsuit three years from the crash date. If you miss this statutory deadline, the court may dismiss your case without a hearing. You’ll lose your right to pursue compensation through the court system.

How Does a Lawyer Negotiate for a Fair Car Accident Settlement?

How Car Accident Settlements WorkThe negotiation tactics an attorney may use when fighting for a fair car accident settlement can vary from one case to another. Common strategies include:

  • Gathering documentation of your losses
  • Submitting testimony from experts and witnesses
  • Submitting evidence of negligence if filing a third-party personal injury claim
  • Submitting pain journals and other forms of evidence documenting the effects of your injuries

Get Legal Help Today

At Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb, our NYC car accident attorneys will tailor our approach to the specifics of your case. We don’t charge upfront legal fees for our services. Our fee is an agreed-upon percentage of the compensation you receive. If you don’t get paid, neither do we.

Learn more about how we may fight for your car accident settlement by calling us at 1-800-PAIN-LAW or contacting us online for a free case review.

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Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

What Our Clients Say About Us

00:47 22 Jun 24
I contacted Burns and Harris, this company which is renamed now, about two years ago about my injury. I even had an in person meeting with Stephen LaRocca.I had to chase him for a year just to sign something, in the end I just gave up. Pretty appalling company and even worse than people have written. I can only imagine the people who haven’t taken the time to write your review. Don’t bother with them.
Cole ColdwaterCole Coldwater
19:36 20 Jun 24
My experience with Harris Keenan and Goldfarb was wonderful. My legal representative, Steven LaRocca with Samantha Walton always made me feel well defended and cared for, in a way that went beyond professional representation and into the realm of caring about me on a personal level. Steven, Samantha and Seth Harris got me a great outcome and I can’t thank them enough!
Elizabeth SantosElizabeth Santos
00:32 20 Jun 24
If I could give them a zero Star I would 0
Jennifer RosarioJennifer Rosario
14:16 05 Jun 24
The best law firm I have ever went with thank you so much
Angelo Del GuercioAngelo Del Guercio
20:03 11 May 24
Horrible people. I lost complete confidence in this firm. Attorneys dragged their feet for 4 years and my mom died before a settlement could be reached. I advised them several times that my mom was sick to put fire under their feet but the effort was to no avail.
david Santiagodavid Santiago
18:05 21 Mar 24
Maria RoqueMaria Roque
20:49 15 Mar 24
Excellent person, very Professional, they assist you in any language, your call is always answered. I recommend you for any case of support you have, your refund is satisfactory. and fast
14:09 02 Mar 24
I am completely satisfied, and recommend Harris Keenan & Goldfarb as Attorneys to represent anyone. Their care for me physically, and overall helped me stay strong in spite of my injuries. Always available to answer questions, and inform.They got me Justice, and achieved a substantial outcome for my case.I am very impressed, and thankful for their outstanding performance on my behalf.I am very pleased, and significantly satisfied with their representation.‐-Sherylon Wilkins
Robert LennonRobert Lennon
15:26 21 Feb 24
Patient and diligence is how I describe the effort of HKG the work was thorough, honest and fair, I have no complaints. Special thanks to attorney Blake and his paralegal Thierry.
Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
17:52 08 Jan 24
I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
16:02 08 Jan 24
My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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