First, it is very important to hire an attorney as soon as possible. In most New York personal injury cases, you must sue against the defendant 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 within the 3 year period, your case will be thrown out and you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement, or award at trial.
Also, if your personal injury case involves a New York State government defendant, or “municipality,” you must serve a Notice of Claim upon the municipality within 90 days after the date of your accident. The municipality is then allowed to question you at a “50-h” hearing. Following this hearing, if you wish to sue the municipality for personal injury, you must do so within 1 year and 90 days of your accident, 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 award at trial against the municipality.
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Please note that if you are injured at work you may need to file a worker’s/workman’s compensation claim to protect your rights. Consult with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer to learn more.
Benefits of Hiring a New York Personal Injury Lawyer
A huge reason to hire an attorney right away is that memories and evidence tend to fade away over time. Prompt investigation of the facts by the attorney helps to ensure the protection of evidence that will be crucial to 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 your particular type of case. Do not hire an attorney who is merely a general practitioner. You need a specialist to get the results you want.
When you interview a potential New York personal injury lawyer, be sure to ask whether you will be regularly dealing with them directly, or their junior associate, paralegal, or nurse.
Most personal injury lawyers 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 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 they can move your case along. However, if you feel that your attorney does not return your calls, e-mails or texts quickly, consider changing attorneys.
Importance of Medical Care After an Injury
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 the 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 the accident.
Avoid Talking to Insurance Companies
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 on your behalf.
If the insurance company makes an early settlement offer to you, you should understand that the offer will be low and nowhere near the amount you could possibly receive through settlement or trial.
Beware – accepting an early settlement offer will prevent you from proceeding with your lawsuit against the defendant that the insurance company represents. Insurance companies usually make higher offers once the case approaches its trial date. If you need another surgery or treatment down the road, but you have taken an early settlement offer, you cannot go back in time and get more compensation. It’s important to wait until we understand the full extent of your injuries.
Working Out the Value of Your Case
In general, you and your attorney 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, that this defendant caused your injuries, and therefore that your injuries resulted in money damages. Types of money damages that may possibly be awarded to you include: past and future wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and property damage.
It should be noted that if you are found to be partially responsible for your own injuries, then your awarded damages may be reduced accordingly. This would be defined as your proportion of fault, or “comparative/contributory negligence.”
Overall, the legal process is extremely slow. Cases routinely take 3-5 years to arrive at trial. If you cannot afford to wait this long for your settlement or trial award, you may wish to discuss with your attorney accepting an earlier, yet lower, settlement offer.
Few people have the necessary money to continue paying all of their bills while their lawsuit works its way through the court system. Unfortunately, attorneys are prohibited from loaning their clients money while they wait for their cases to conclude. However, your attorney may be able to suggest other financial options.
There are many types of personal injury cases that may be sued in New York State. They include: slip and fall, automobile and motorcycle, dog bite, wrongful death, products liability, construction, medical malpractice and nursing home neglect, to name a few.
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Contact A Dedicated New York Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one are in need of an experienced New York personal injury lawyer, please call our office today to get a free consultation with Brian Elbaum. Let his experience work for you.
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