New York Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered serious personal injuries in a car accident which occurred in New York, we offer our most sincere sympathy. Many people who suffer personal injuries are understandably overwhelmed. You may be wondering, “What happens now? Who should I speak with and when? If I hire an New York car accident lawyer to represent me, when will my case end? How will I pay my bills if I can’t work? And how much and when, if ever, will I be paid?”
First, it is very important to hire an attorney as soon as possible. As noted below, the filing deadlines to protect your potential No-Fault benefits and lawsuit award should be dealt with immediately by you and your New York car accident lawyer.
No Fault Insurance in New York
In New York, if you are injured in a car accident (also called a motor vehicle or automobile accident), your options to recover damages may be limited by the “No Fault” law.
New York is a “No Fault” car insurance state. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, you must first file a No Fault claim under your own car insurance policy in order to receive money for your medical bills and certain other limited types of economic losses, regardless of who caused the accident.
No Fault deadlines are short and require immediate action. Contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer to help you file all necessary No Fault paperwork on time.
In addition, if your injury qualifies as a “Serious Injury” you may sue the other driver (“defendant”) in court for damages. A “Serious Injury” includes any of the following: significant disfigurement, broken bone, permanent limitation of use of a body organ, significant limitation of use of a body function or system or a substantially full disability which lasts for at least 90 days.
If your injuries qualify as a “Serious Injury,” you and your New York car accident lawyer need to prove that the defendant you are suing owed you a duty of care, that they failed to perform this duty of care either by their action or failure to act while driving their car or vehicle, that this defendant caused the accident and is therefore responsible for your injuries and that your injuries resulted in money or other types of damages.
Getting Compensation if You Partially Caused the Accident
It should be noted that, in New York, if you are found to be partially responsible for the car accident, then your awarded damages may be reduced accordingly. This would be defined as your proportion of fault, or “comparative/contributory negligence.”
Overall, the types of damages that may possibly be awarded to you in a car accident case include: medical expenses, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, rehabilitation expenses, life planning expenses, and pain and suffering, which is often the largest portion of damages awarded. Unlike some states, New York does not limit the amount of pain and suffering damages that may be awarded to you.
On the other hand, if you should die during either the car accident, or afterwards, your case changes from a car accident personal injury case to a wrongful death case in which your family may be awarded damages. In that situation, No Fault insurance will also pay your estate a separate funeral benefit. Your estate could also possibly recover other special damages due to your death, including damages for financial loss to your immediate family as well as damages for loss of parental guidance, regardless of the age of your surviving children. Also, your estate may be eligible to recover damages for any fear of immediate impending death that was felt by you immediately before your death.
Benefits of Hiring a New York Car Accident Lawyer
It is very important to hire an attorney as soon as possible. In New York, most car accident cases must be sued against the defendant or defendants who caused the accident within 3 years from the date of injury. This 3-year period is called the “statute of limitations.” If you fail to sue your case with the court within the 3-year period, your case will be thrown out and you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement or damage award at trial.
Also, if your car accident case involves a New York government (“municipality”) defendant driver and/or vehicle, you must serve a Notice of Claim upon the municipality within 90 days after the date of your injury. The municipality is then allowed to question you at a “50-h” hearing. Following this hearing, if you wish to sue the municipality for your car accident personal injuries you must do so within 1 year and 90 days of your injury, unless the injured party is a child or incompetent. This is the municipality “statute of limitations.” If you fail to follow these time-lines, you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement or trial award against the municipality.
Please note that, if you are injured while you are driving in your capacity as a worker or employee, you may need to file a worker’s/workman’s compensation claim to protect your rights. Ask your attorney.
Another reason to hire an attorney right away is that memories, witnesses and evidence of your car accident case will tend to fade away over time. Prompt investigation of the facts by your attorney will help make sure your case’s evidence is protected for your benefit.
Finding the Right Attorney for Your Case
When interviewing possible attorneys to represent you, always ask whether the initial consultation will be free or “complimentary.” Be sure to ask friends, business contacts, and family for referrals to attorneys who have strong trial experience in car accident cases. Do not hire an attorney who is merely a general practitioner or handles cases in several different areas of the law. You need an attorney who specializes in car accident cases.
In addition, while interviewing possible attorneys to represent you, ask them how many trials they have personally handled in car accident cases. The defendant’s insurance company will be much more willing to make reasonable settlement offers to settle your car accident case if they know your attorney is an extremely experienced trial attorney in these types of cases.
When you interview possible attorneys, be sure to ask whether you will be regularly dealing with them directly, or their junior associate, paralegal, or nurse.
Most car accident attorneys will expect to be paid roughly 1/3rd of any legal recovery you may receive, whether through settlement or trial award. However, you do not have to pay any money out of pocket to hire the attorney to represent you and it is the attorney who pays all of your case’s expenses and out of pocket costs up front, such as filing fees, office expenses and hiring expert witnesses to prove fault (“liability”), and/or the amount of your damages.
It is important to respond quickly to any question or request for information that your attorney sends to you. The faster you respond, the faster he can move your car accident case along. However, if you feel that your attorney does not return your calls, e-mails or texts quickly, consider changing attorneys.
Importance of Seeking Medical Attention
If you have suffered a serious personal injury, seek Medical attention immediately. Some injuries, pain, and limitations are not immediately noticeable and may take time to develop. You may not even be aware that you have suffered an injury immediately after your car accident. Your attorney will recommend a doctor to you so that all of your injuries may be properly documented and treated.
The longer you wait to seek medical attention, the harder it may be for your attorney to relate your injuries to your car accident and therefore prove your case.
The Insurance Companies Aren’t Your Friends
If you are contacted by a representative of the defendant’s insurance company, do not respond. The insurance company is not on your side. They represent the defendant that you may be suing. After you hire your attorney, ask your attorney to respond to the insurance company.
If the insurance company makes an early settlement offer to you in order to settle your car accident case, you should understand that the offer will be low and nowhere near the amount you could possibly receive through a later settlement or trial.
Beware – accepting an early settlement offer will prevent you from proceeding with your car accident lawsuit against the defendant that the insurance company represents. Insurance companies usually make much higher settlement offers once a car accident case approaches its trial date, especially if your attorney is known to have a good deal of car accident trial experience.
Overall, the legal process is slow, but we will push the insurance companies to move faster. We will do everything in our power to make this take as little time as possible.
There are many other types of personal injury cases that may be sued in New York. They include: slip and fall, motorcycle, dog bite, wrongful death, products liability, asbestos, construction, medical malpractice and nursing home neglect, to name only a few.
Contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer
If you or a loved one was involved in an auto accident and need a strong and dedicated New York car accident lawyer, please call us today for a free consultation.
Out of Town Legal Resources
We got a call from someone who was seriously injured in a car accident while on vacation in California. Unfortunately, we don’t practice in California, but we found a personal injury law firm located in California that handles car accident cases. If your traveling in California and get involved in a car accident check out their California Car Accident Guide.