New York Auto Accident and Insurance
In New York, being involved in an auto accident may present unique circumstances in terms of insurance. For example, the car accident may trigger the no-fault insurance law, or uninsured motorist coverage, which are required of every registered motorist in New York. Personal injury attorneys also have several recommendations for individuals seeking to file a lawsuit following a motor vehicle accident.
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing automobile accident victims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a car accident lawsuit.
There is a mandatory no-fault insurance law in New York, where insurance is required of every registered motorist. Under no-fault insurance, the injured policy holder, their passengers, and pedestrians can receive compensation from the insurance company for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who is at fault. No-fault insurance is capped at $50,000. The policy does not, however, cover additional damages such as pain and suffering; these must be sought in court. In this case, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for pain and suffering caused by that driver’s negligence.
In some cases, a settlement may be preferable to a trial in court. The decision is up to you, but you should consider advice from an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the court system and the way insurance companies work. Although a trial judgment may produce a larger award, the process of getting there may be more difficult than it is worth. Litigation can take years, and even if the court does award you a larger sum, you may have difficulty obtaining the money if the defendant is of limited means. Additionally, insurance companies have the means to draw out litigation for as long as possible, making it difficult for you to seek recovery. Therefore, if there is a reasonable and good faith offer of settlement from an insurance company, your personal injury lawyer might recommend that you accept the settlement.
Uninsured motorist coverage involves accidents where a driver without insurance causes your injury. In this situation, your uninsured motorist coverage will cover your injuries. What if you are injured but do not have insurance because you do not own a car? In this case, you would pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. In hit-and-run cases or in accidents where the at-fault driver is of limited means, the victim can seek compensation through the New York Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Company. Victims of uninsured drivers and drivers of stolen vehicles can seek coverage under this insurance fund. Compensation for each accident under this plan is capped at $25,000.
Auto Accident Lawsuit Tips
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman have general guidelines and tips for auto accident litigation. If you were involved in a car accident, seek medical attention immediately for any injuries. You should consider medical treatment even if it seems like your injuries are minor or non-existent, because some injuries do not appear right away. Soft-tissue injuries and traumatic brain injuries, for example, are two common injuries in car accidents that may not cause symptoms immediately. In terms of litigation, going to a doctor or hospital provides documentation for your injury.
Document the accident and injuries to the best of your ability. This means taking photos of your injury, damage to the vehicle, property damage, and the scene itself. Consider where the accident took place, and whether there is security footage that could have filmed the incident. Be sure to obtain the contact information from all drivers involved, along with their license plate number and make and model of their vehicle. Try to obtain information from any eye witnesses.
Naturally, being involved in a car accident may be stressful. However, when approaching the other driver, you should avoid apologizing as this could be used against you later in court. You can check to make sure the driver is not injured, but personal injury attorneys advise against saying “sorry”. Do your best to stay calm and level-headed to avoid any hostile interactions with the driver of the other vehicle.
Another auto accident litigation tip involves contacting the police. If you were involved in a minor accident, you may be wondering whether contacting the authorities is necessary. It is not mandatory to call the police if the damage is very minor and nobody is injured. However, you should call the police when damage is significant or if anyone is injured. In New York, drivers must call the police if the damage exceeds $1,000. You should also call the police if there was damage to a parked vehicle, property damage, or injury to a domestic animal.
If you are unsure about whether to call the police after an accident, you should call to be on the safe side. You may not realize that damage to a vehicle is costly, or symptoms of your injury may not arise until later. Filing a police report provides documentation when filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Furthermore, if you are required to call the police and fail to do so, you can face serious penalties.
When the police do arrive, obtain the officer’s badge number, police report number and phone number. Your insurance company may want this information later, so having it ready ahead of time can help move the process along more quickly. If a representative from the at-fault driver’s insurance company tries to contact you, do not speak to them or give any type of statement. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on what to do and how to best seek recovery for your injuries. Keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Legal Help for Car Accident Victims
Parker Waichman has decades of experience representing car accident and other accident victims. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, you may have valuable legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).