Almost everyone will be involved in a car accident at some point in their lives. While fender benders can be frustrating, a serious collision can change the scope of a victim’s life forever. It is important to know what steps to take after an accident and what your rights are, so that you can recover as fully as possible.
Below is a general overview of car accident claims in New York, but if you have recently been in an accident, it is a good idea to run your case by a lawyer to ensure you get the most out of your claim. For a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Hempstead, NY, call Goldstein and Bashner at 516-874-4362.
What steps do I need to take after I leave the scene?
While ensuring your safety and getting the other driver’s information is of paramount importance, it does not stop there. Once you have left the scene, make sure you do the following:
- Get a medical evaluation. Even if you think your injuries are not severe, have a doctor check them out anyway. You might have internal injuries or injuries that have not manifested yet. Having a doctor notate the accident on your file protects you legally, as well.
- Collect important information, such as the police report and eyewitness testimony. Write down how the accident occurred as soon as possible to ensure you do not forget any details. Put this information in a folder with other important documentation, such as photos of the scene.
- Save all of your injury-related bills and receipts, and document any wages you have lost due to your injuries. You will need this information to prove your losses and seek reimbursement. Place this in the folder as well.
- Talk to a local car accident attorney before filing your claim. A lawyer can estimate the value of your claim, tell you how best to proceed, and help you maximize your settlement.
How do car accident claims work in New York?
New York is a no-fault state which means that you turn to your own insurance company for coverage, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. You can recover up to your policy’s limits. If you only carry the minimum coverage, this means you can recover up to $50,000 for medical expenses and lost wages.
While $50,000 seems like a lot, injuries and lost wages can quickly top this limit.
With a serious or catastrophic accident, you may have the right to claim additional damages from the at-fault party. This is important because you can collect compensation for pain and suffering and additional losses that your no-fault insurance does not cover.
If you sustained any of the following, you have the right to step out of the no-fault system and file suit for fuller recovery:
- Bone fractures
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of one of your limbs or body organs
- Significant limitation of a body function or system
- Full disability lasting 90 days or more
Can I still recover if I was partly at fault?
As aforementioned, if you are filing a claim with your own insurer, it does not matter who was at fault; you are still entitled to compensation. If, on the other hand, you want to file against the other party, you will need to prove that the other driver’s negligence (e.g., speeding, texting, driving while intoxicated, etc.) is what caused the collision.
But it is important to note that you may be able to win compensation even if you were partly at fault. New York follows the “pure comparative negligence” rule.
This rule provides that car accident victims can still recover damages even if they were at fault; the caveat is that your degree of fault will reduce your award. So, if an investigation finds you were 50 percent at fault and your damages total $200,000, you will be entitled to $100,000 in damages.
Do I really need a car accident lawyer?
When it comes to car accident claims, what you do not know can hurt you. Insurance companies might not give you the full amount you are entitled to. They use tactics like downplaying injuries or trying to get victims to settle quickly before they realize the full extent of their injuries.
And if you do not know your rights or how to negotiate and handle a claim properly, you will walk away with far less money than you deserve.
Our car accident lawyers at Goldstein and Bashner can benefit your case in several ways. We will handle all of the documents, estimate the value of your case, negotiate with the insurance company, and fight for the full amount you are entitled to.
Having us on your side will minimize your stress and give you peace of mind so that you can focus on recuperating. And if we cannot reach a fair settlement or your damages exceed the policy, we will be ready to take your case to court for you so that you can get what you deserve.
Can I afford a car accident lawyer?
We believe that car accident victims deserve access to legal representation, regardless of their current financial situation. So, at Goldstein and Bashner, we have a contingency fee policy, which means that we do not charge you for legal fees unless and until you win a settlement.
This means you will have no out-of-pocket expenses. And because cases represented by lawyers often result in much larger settlements than claims victims file themselves, it only makes sense to hire a lawyer.
We invite you to learn more about us and how we can help. Read more about our team and some of our recent case results. You can also see what some of our clients have to say about their experience with us.
And feel free to download our free book, the Auto Accident Guide: The Essential Car Companion, which has some excellent information everyone should know after a car accident.
If you or your loved one has been in an accident in Hempstead, NY, contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation: 516-874-4362.