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Serious Injuries Require
Interviewer: What’s the timeline of a case? How long will it take from start to finish, and what are the events that happen from the time you get into an accident?
Ira Perlman: Every case is different. Depending upon the specific circumstances, the complexities involved in a case will dictate and determine how long the case will go on for. Some cases end up resolving quickly when the insurance company realizes that they really do owe money based on a totality of everything that occurred, and you would hope that that case would resolve quickly, and sometimes, it does. There are other times when the insurance companies will stall, and even though you should be compensated fairly and adequately under the law based on how the accident happened, they just fight and continue to fight, and the case can drag on.
The cases can take anywhere from one to three years, even four years sometimes depending upon what goes on during litigation. There are many ways to stall a case from coming to fruition. Even though your attorney would like it to move quicker, the court doesn’t always move quickly. There are other variables as well. The different courthouses in different counties operate differently, and what will take two years in one particular county may take three years in another county because that particular courthouse is not running or operating as efficiently or quickly as another courthouse.
Interviewer: Do most auto accident cases settle or do they go to trial or what happens to them?
Ira Perlman: More often than not, cases will ultimately settle. The question is, when will they settle? Usually, cases will settle as more time goes by when there is more pressure on all the parties because nobody knows what ultimately a jury will do in terms of deciding the case. Lawyers don’t decide the case, the parties don’t decide the case and often, judges don’t decide the case. It’s a jury that decides the case. So, as you get closer to trial, that’s when the people responsible for settling a case or negotiating a settlement will step up to the plate, and you can have a fruitful discussion about the case and a case will settle.
Interviewer: What happens if you can’t work? I mean if you’re injured and you have such problems and you have medical bills? What do you do until the case resolves?
Ira Perlman: When you have a situation where somebody can’t earn the money he or she was earning prior to getting into an accident, the No-Fault laws in the state of New York do afford individuals some protection because, under the No-Fault law, you are entitled to recover a portion of your lost earnings regardless of whether you sue or don’t sue. In addition to that, as an employee of a company, you may have disability coverage that’s available, and you can seek coverage through that policy. But unfortunately, there are situations where under the law, whether it’s through no fault or disability, there isn’t enough money to compensate you temporarily that enables you to pay all of your bills.
Now, in that situation, there are outside agencies and companies that do offer money to victims of accidents right away so they can make these payments or have money, but some of these companies charge enormous interest rates, and you see them on television advertising. It’s very dangerous to borrow money against your case from these types of companies. Because there is no guarantee that the money these companies pay will ever be returned to them, this enables them to charge these high-interest rates; you could borrow $5,000 from a company and end up owing more than triple that amount later on because of the enormous interest rates that they charge. So you have to be very careful about what you do in terms of getting money to live on if you’re involved in an accident.
Interviewer: What’s the good and bad and how would you know that you’re talking to the right person or not?
Ira Perlman: First and foremost, you need someone you can trust. There has to be a relationship involving trust between the injured party, the injured family and the attorney that they choose. That’s more important than anything. You want somebody that’s going to fight for you and fight hard for you and zealously represent you in court. That means representing you without any shortcuts, doing what has to be done, especially at the beginning in terms of undertaking a proper investigation and taking all the preliminary steps that have to be taken, because if you don’t do the right thing at the beginning, you’re not going to be able to do the right thing at the end, and gathering all the necessary information and evidence at the beginning is very important.
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