Car Accident Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyer in New York
Cars, trucks, and SUVs might have gotten smarter, with sensors that tell us when tires need air and dashboard screens that alert us to obstacles behind us. But sadly, motor vehicle accidents continue to be a leading cause of death and injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that more than 2.4 million people were injured in traffic crashes nationwide in a single recent year. In addition, 37,461 people died on the roads nationwide in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2015, NHTSA says.
Deaths of motorcyclists and pedestrians accounted for more than one-third of this increase, with 5,286 motorcycle fatalities (the largest number since 2008) and 5,987 pedestrian fatalities (the highest number since 1990), these statistics show.
New Yorkers are well attuned to traffic hazards. The city’s streets buzz with activity not just from cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and pedestrians, but also taxis, buses, and other public transportation; bicyclists and messengers; delivery vehicles; even Ubers and limousines.
The Marcowitz Law Firm has handled thousands of cases involving vehicle accidents and is glad to work with you to seek the compensation you and your family are eligible to receive. Contact us now for a free consultation, including a free case analysis and advice about your best legal options.
How a Lawyer Can Help After a Serious Car Accident
New York is a no-fault state. This means that if you’re an injured driver or passenger in a motor vehicle accident, you’ll need to turn first to your own insurance coverage to pay your medical expenses and seek reimbursement for lost income — regardless of who was determined to be at fault in the crash.
However, New York insurance law also has a “serious injury” threshold. This means that in certain circumstances a person may be able to file a claim outside the no-fault system for compensation above a certain amount or for noneconomic damages, such as “pain and suffering.”
For this to be an option, the injuries must meet certain requirements, resulting in one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of the use of a bodily organ, member, system, or function
- Permanent consequential limitation of the use of a bodily organ or member
- Significant limited use of a bodily function or system
- A fracture
- Any medically determined injury or nonpermanent impairment that prevents the injured person from performing customary daily activities for at least 90 days immediately following the injuring incident
A lawyer can help determine whether you and your family would be best served through the no-fault option or whether your injuries meet the “serious injury” threshold. A lawyer also can help gather evidence such as police reports and witness statements to help support your claim.
Compensation After a Car Accident in New York
Under New York’s no-fault system, you can recover a maximum of $50,000, covering:
- The costs of all medical treatment associated with the car accident, including psychiatric treatment and physical therapy (albeit with a few deductions specified in the statute)
- Lost earnings up to $2,000 per month for up to three years
- Certain accident-related expenses up to $25 per day for up to one year (such as public transportation costs)
The no-fault option does not allow for compensation for property damage, such as recovering the costs of repairing your vehicle. But you can seek compensation for these costs through collision coverage, if you have it, or by filing a lawsuit or third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
If your circumstances meet the “serious injury” threshold, you can seek damages above $50,000 to cover a variety of expenses, including lost income and medical bills.
What If I Am Partially at Fault?
People sometimes are confused by the term “no-fault state.” But this applies only to insurance law. It does not mean that no one is at fault in a collision.
For example, a rear-end collision in New York generally creates a presumption that the driver who struck the rear of a stopped car is at fault. However, the driver may be able to provide an explanation for hitting the other car that removes liability, such as another vehicle striking his or her car and propelling it into the rear of the stopped one.
Any traffic crash involving serious injuries or death will involve a law enforcement investigation and perhaps criminal charges. If you’re partially at fault in a vehicle accident, that could affect the amount of any compensation you’re awarded.
What’s more, under insurance law, your injuries will not be covered in the following situations:
- They occurred as a result of an intentional act (such as purposely driving into someone or something).
- You were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- You were racing.
- You were driving a stolen car.
- You otherwise were committing an act that amounted to a felony when you were injured or injured someone else.
Protecting Yourself from Insurance Companies
Even if they have great customer service, insurance companies are a business — and as such, they try to minimize the amount of damages they pay out to someone who is injured. It’s wise to protect yourself from any tactic that could delay or deny compensation from the insurance company of the driver that injured you. Here’s how:
- Call the police. Even in a minor crash, a police report helps establish the facts.
- Get contact information and pictures. If you’re not too injured to do so, use your cell phone to take photographs of the scene, the positions of the vehicles involved and any damage, skid marks, and road conditions. Police also take photographs and collect information from witnesses, but be sure to note this contact information yourself as well.
- See a doctor. People often want to ignore minor soreness, or avoid the hassle of visiting a doctor for what they think is a minor concern. But many times, injuries affecting the muscles, joints, spine, and internal organs take days or weeks to manifest. So please, get yourself checked out right away.
- Avoid giving any statements to an insurance representative without a lawyer’s advice. Sometimes people are quick to say, “I’m fine,” before they’ve been examined by a doctor. If you’re not sure whether you’re OK, or if you’d like to consult a lawyer, don’t answer anything for an insurance adjuster, even a question such as, “How are you?”
Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
Vehicle accidents can cause a range of injuries, whether involving cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, school buses, or pedestrians. Although safety devices such as child restraints, seat belts, frontal air bags, and helmets do save thousands of lives each year, serious injuries can still occur.
Here are some common types of injuries from vehicle accidents:
- Neck injuries: Most people are familiar with whiplash, the neck injury that can occur after a forceful and rapid movement of the neck, often during a rear-end collision. People with whiplash can experience headaches, neck pain, and stiffness. Other neck injuries include swelling and general soreness.
- Head injuries: Striking one’s head against the steering wheel, dashboard, windows or other parts of a vehicle can result in a head injury ranging from a mild concussion to skull fracture to traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Chest injuries: Some people experience bruising and soreness across their chests from a seat belt. More serious chest injuries include broken ribs and collapsed lungs. People with heart problems also can go into cardiac arrest after a vehicle accident.
- Back injuries: A herniated disk, also called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, is a fairly common vehicle accident injury. This disk can irritate the surrounding nerves and cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the lower back or limbs. More serious spinal cord injuries can cause significant nerve damage or paralysis.
- Fractures and ligament or organ damage: Injuries to the arms, hands, legs, and feet are common. However, some people injured in vehicle crashes also can suffer a broken pelvis, a torn ACL (one of the major ligaments in the knee), or damage to the internal organs.
- Dismemberment or disfigurement
- Chronic pain
- Emotional distress: In addition to physical injuries, a person involved in a vehicle crash may experience emotional distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in recurrent distressing memories, trouble sleeping, negative moods, and avoiding driving or transportation.
The Marcowitz Law Firm Helps Car Accident Victims in New York
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness, please call us today or contact us online now. We’re glad to assist you in determining whether you’re eligible to recover any damages and discussing how to protect your rights.