New York Car Accident Lawyer
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in New York State, there are generally 3 types of claims that you can bring.
New York is a No-Fault state, which means that everyone involved in motor vehicle accident in New York (with the exception of riding a motorcycle), is entitled to a minimum of $50,000 coverage for medical expenses, lost wages and medical related out of pocket expenses. If you are in a vehicle when the accident occurs, that vehicle’s insurance company covers the No-Fault benefits for all its occupants. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist, then the vehicle that strikes you covers your No Fault benefits. If you are on a bus and you own a motor vehicle or live with another relative that owns a motor vehicle, then the insurance for that vehicle covers your No Fault benefits for the bus accident. If there are no auto policies in your household, then the bus company’s auto insurance covers your No Fault benefits. If you are in accident and the vehicle that is required to cover your No-Fault benefits is not insured, then you can apply to a state fund for these benefits, known as Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). For motorcycle cases, there is no No Fault coverage.
For lost wages, you are entitled to 80% of your actual incurred lost wages, with a maximum of $2,000 a month (unless you have an APIL or OBEL policy, which is like extra No Fault coverage). You may also be entitled to file for short term disability benefits with your employer after you miss 5 days of work. If applicable, this amount is subtracted from the No Fault lost wages that you receive. It is imperative that you provide your lawyer with monthly disability letters to successfully process a lost wages claim!
Pain and Suffering
This is the main reason why you are retaining a lawyer. If you have sustained a “Serious Injury”, then you are entitled to be compensated for your pain and suffering. The definition of a “Serious Injury” is often misunderstood by lawyers claiming to be experts and insurance companies. Under the law, some injuries are automatically considered serious, such as those involving fractures, significant scars and/or cases where you cannot work for at least 90 days following the accident. Some injuries are presumed serious, such as those requiring surgery, those requiring pain management such as epidural injections and/or those whereby you have permanent restrictions in your range of motion more than 90 days after the accident. In order to be successful with this type of claim, it is imperative that you have consistent treatment starting soon after the accident, that you attend all diagnostic tests ordered by your physicians (such as MRIs, Xrays, EMGs) and that you continue to treat on a regular basis for as long as you are symptomatic. Once you stop receiving regular treatment, the insurance company will assume that you have recovered from your injuries and that you have not sustained a “Serious Injury”!
The first claim is for your property damage (if applicable). Every car in New York is required to be insured for at least $10,000 in property damage insurance. If you have comprehensive insurance including coverage for your own property damage, then you can put the claim into your own insurance company. Going this route is usually faster than claiming against the other car that caused the accident. However, you may have to wait to be reimbursed for your deductible. Your insurance will then go after the at fault vehicle’s insurance company (subrogation) and will reimburse you the percentage of your deductible that they recover. For example, if they only recover 50% from the other car’s insurance, then you will only be reimbursed 50% of your deductible.
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage or if you want to proceed directly against the other party at fault for damaging your car, you can make a claim for your property damage through that party’s insurance company. If that party is less than 100% at fault for the accident, then their insurance company only has to pay for their percentage of fault. For example, if both of you are claiming the other vehicle ran a red light and their insurance company doesn’t know who is telling the truth, they may only offer you 50% of your damage.
What Is My Case Worth?
It is very difficult for an attorney to give you an reliable estimate of the value of your case soon after the accident. Typically, we need more information to give you a true value of your case. Some of these factors that we need include the following: Who is the insurance company? What are the policy limits of the vehicle? How much damage was there to the cars involved? Did you go to the emergency room from the scene? What did your MRIs reveal? How many months of physical therapy and/or chiropractic treatment did you receive? Did you miss any work? Are you out of pocket any lost wages that wasn’t covered by No Fault? Did you have surgery or pain management? Did you have any fractures or scars? With my clients, I generally like to wait at least 90 days so I have most of the above information to conduct a proper case evaluation.
It is not recommended that you retain an attorney that will give you a case value at the beginning of a case. Typically they are just throwing over inflated numbers at you in the hopes that you will retain them!