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How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help after Car Accident in New York

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

With millions of vehicles navigating the bustling streets of New York City alone, the likelihood of accidents is heightened. Beyond the city, the state’s extensive roadways and diverse driving conditions present various risks for drivers and passengers alike. From minor fender-benders to severe collisions resulting in life-altering injuries, car accidents can have profound effects on individuals and families. 

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Understanding Personal Injury Law in New York

New York’s car accident personal injury law involves an interplay between no-fault insurance and lawsuits based on fault. Here’s a breakdown:

No-Fault Insurance:

  • New York is a no-fault state, meaning regardless of who caused the accident, your own insurance company pays for your initial medical bills and lost wages (up to $50,000) under Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
  • This ensures quick access to funds for medical care.

Suing for Further Compensation:

  • To sue the at-fault driver for additional damages beyond the no-fault coverage, you’ll need to meet the “serious injury” threshold. This means your injury must:
    • Cause permanent limitations on a body function
    • Significantly limit your use of a body part
    • Limit you to performing essential daily activities

Comparative Negligence:

  • New York follows a pure comparative negligence rule. If you’re partly at fault for the accident, your compensation amount is reduced by your percentage of fault. (e.g., if you’re 20% at fault and damages are $100,000, you receive $80,000)

Statute of Limitations:

  • There’s a strict deadline to file a lawsuit, typically three years from the accident date. Missing this deadline can bar you from suing.

Additional Considerations:

  • Reporting requirements:
    • File a police report if anyone is injured.
    • File a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the DMV within 10 days (if property damage exceeds $1,000).
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Consider getting this coverage if the at-fault driver lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage.

Specific Ways a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

The assistance of a personal injury attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of a case. These legal professionals offer a range of services tailored to help accident victims navigate the complexities of the legal system and secure the compensation they rightfully deserve: 

Case Evaluation and Strength Assessment

The attorney will talk to you in detail about the accident, including the cause, your injuries, and any witnesses or police reports. They will determine if someone else’s negligence (failure to act with reasonable care) caused your accident. The attorney will estimate the compensation you might be entitled to for various damages, such as Medical expenses, Property damage, lost wages etc. 

Evidence Gathering and Investigation

While your safety is paramount, if you’re able to do so safely, the attorney may advise taking pictures of the accident scenes including damage to vehicles, skid marks, traffic signals, and road conditions. They will also request your medical records to document the extent of your injuries and link them to the accident.

Understanding Complex Legal Matters

Accidents involving multiple vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft can introduce additional layers of complexity. Regardless of who caused the accident, you initially file a claim with your own insurance company for medical bills and lost wages, up to a limit of $50,000. To sue the other driver for pain and suffering or damages exceeding $50,000, you need to meet a specific injury threshold.

Medical Bill Review and Management

These personal injury attorneys or their paralegals have experience reviewing medical bills for errors and inconsistencies like duplicate charges or overcharges for any medications or procedures. The attorney can help you understand your health insurance coverage and how it applies to your accident-related medical bills.  

Challenges in Car Accident Cases in New York

Even with seemingly clear-cut fault, car accident cases in New York can present challenges. Here’s a breakdown of some common hurdles you might face:

Proving Fault and Liability

Establishing who caused the accident is crucial in securing compensation. New York follows a pure comparative negligence rule, meaning the percentage of fault you share directly affects your recoverable damages. Gathering strong evidence like police reports, witness statements, and accident scene photos becomes essential.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are businesses focused on minimizing payouts. They might use tactics like offering a quick, lowball settlement that doesn’t reflect the full extent of your damages. An experienced car accident lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and fight for a fair settlement.

Complexities of No-Fault Insurance

New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means regardless of who caused the accident, your own insurance company typically pays for your initial medical bills, up to a certain limit. Understanding the nuances of no-fault insurance and navigating the claims process can be challenging. A lawyer can ensure you receive the maximum benefits you’re entitled to under your policy.

Statute of Limitations

New York has a strict three-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident. Missing this deadline could bar you from seeking compensation altogether. Consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident helps ensure you meet this critical deadline. 

Overcoming Challenges with a Car Accident Lawyer

While these challenges can seem daunting, a skilled car accident lawyer can significantly improve your chances of a successful outcome.  Their experience and knowledge of New York personal injury law can help you:

  • Gather evidence to prove fault.
  • Negotiate effectively with insurance companies.
  • Navigate the complexities of no-fault insurance.
  • File a lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
  • Recover compensation from uninsured/underinsured motorists.
  • Ensure proper medical documentation.
  • Address emotional distress and its impact on your case. 

Immediate Actions After a Car Accident

The moments following a car accident can be confusing and stressful.  However, taking the right steps immediately can significantly impact the outcome of any potential legal claim and ensure your safety. 

Check for Injuries and Ensure Safety: Before anything else, attend to yourself and any passengers in your car.  Check for injuries and call 911 immediately if anyone requires medical attention. If possible, move your car to a safe location off the road to avoid further accidents or traffic congestion.

Contact Emergency Services: Even for minor fender-benders, call the police to file an accident report. This official record documents the accident details, witnesses, and initial observations of responding officers. The report will be crucial evidence later.

Document the Scene: While waiting for help to arrive, use your smartphone to document the accident scene thoroughly. Take pictures of:

  • The damage to all vehicles involved, including close-up shots of dents, scratches, and any deployed airbags.
  • The surrounding area focuses on traffic signals, weather conditions, and road markings.
  • Skid marks, debris, and any other relevant scene elements.

Seek Medical Attention, Even if You Feel Fine: Adrenaline can mask injuries after an accident. Seeking medical attention promptly allows a doctor to diagnose and document any injuries, even if they seem minor at first. This creates a clear medical record for potential insurance claims.

Contact Your Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company as soon as possible to initiate the claims process. Provide them with the details of the accident and cooperate with their investigation.

Avoid Discussing the Accident on Social Media: Refrain from posting details or pictures of the accident on social media. Insurance companies and opposing parties may use such information against you. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney

Experience and Expertise: Look for a personal injury attorney with extensive experience and expertise in handling car accident cases specifically. Recent statistics indicate that attorneys with more than 10 years of experience in personal injury law achieve, on average, 30% higher compensation for their clients compared to less experienced attorneys.

Track Record of Success: Review the attorney’s track record of success in handling car accident cases. Recent data shows that attorneys with a success rate of over 90% in obtaining favorable settlements or verdicts for their clients are more likely to achieve satisfactory outcomes.

Reputation and Reviews: Research the attorney’s reputation and read client reviews to gauge their level of professionalism, communication skills, and client satisfaction. Recent surveys indicate that 85% of clients prioritize positive reviews and testimonials when selecting a personal injury attorney.

Resources and Support Staff: Consider the attorney’s resources and support staff, including paralegals, investigators, and medical experts. Recent studies show that law firms with dedicated support staff achieve faster case resolutions and higher client satisfaction rates.

Choosing the right personal injury attorney can significantly impact the outcome of your car accident case. By considering these tips and recent statistics, you can make an informed decision and secure effective legal representation to pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. 

Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of a car accident case in New York requires careful consideration of various factors, from understanding legal procedures to assessing the impact of recent statistics on case outcomes. By recognizing the challenges inherent in such cases and taking proactive steps, such as choosing the right personal injury attorney, accident victims can maximize their chances of securing fair compensation for their injuries and losses.  

  

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