A serious car accident can stop life on a dime. Getting medical treatment and dealing with your injuries are the top priority, but you will soon have to deal with financial, insurance, and legal details. How much are your damages worth? Which insurance company will you file with? How do you ensure you receive fair compensation? These are all common questions car accident victims have – and the East Meadow car accident attorneys at Goldstein and Bashner are here to help.
If you or a loved one was recently in a car accident, call our office today at 516-222-4000 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and compensation options.
What are my options for compensation after a car accident in NY?
There were nearly 300,000 motor vehicle accidents in New York in 2014, over a third of which caused injury or death, reports the New York State DMV.
When victims sustain injuries in a crash, their primary — and sometimes only — means of recovering damages is to file a claim with their own insurance company. New York is a no-fault car accident state, which means that all accident victims must turn to their own insurer after an accident for compensation, regardless of fault. All drivers in the state must carry a minimum of $50,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
So, with most accidents, you will likely just file a no-fault claim with your own insurance company, from which you can recover up to $50,000 of monetary damages such as medical expenses and lost income. There are strict time limits on filing a no-fault claim, so make sure you speak to an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and learn what you can recover.
Some accident victims might have a second option for compensation available: suing the at-fault party. Litigation opens up the door for more recovery for victims, including full wage replacement, no cap on medical benefits, and the possibility of recovering non-monetary damages such as for pain and suffering. You only retain the right to recover from the other party when one of the following is true:
- Your damages exceed your PIP coverage.
- You suffer what the state defines as a “serious injury.”
- The injury results in death. (Surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim.)
- Either of the parties do not have the minimum provisions for insurance.
Article 51, Section 5102 of the New York Insurance Law defines serious injury as one that:
results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or other serious injury that impairs their normal function for six months or longer.
Do I qualify to sue the at-fault party for damages?
All car accident lawsuits hinge on negligence. In order to bring and win a suit against the other driver (defendant), you must be able to prove that the defendant was acting carelessly or negligently in some way and that her negligence caused or contributed to your accident.
In regards to auto accidents, negligence simply means breaching a duty of care to operate a vehicle safely on the road. Any actions or behaviors that are unreasonably dangerous or are in violation of the law could be negligence. Some of the most common forms of driver negligence that lead to accidents include:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Texting and driving
- Surfing the web, using the GPS, talking on the phone
- Eating, drinking, grooming, smoking
- Fumbling for something on the floor or in the backseat
- Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions
- Passing illegally or unsafely
- Failing to yield right-of-way
- Preoccupation with other passengers or things on the roadside
- Driving aggressively, e.g., road rage
What kinds of evidence do I need to prove my case?
You must be able to produce adequate evidence to win your car accident lawsuit. You need to provide evidence that proves both the other party’s fault and the extent of your damages.
The types of evidence that could establish the defendant’s liability depend upon the unique circumstances of your case. For instance, if you believe the other driver caused your wreck because she was reading an email on her phone, then her phone records and eyewitness testimonies could be useful pieces of evidence. If the driver was intoxicated, the police report, the defendant’s field test results, and past DUI criminal records will be useful.
In order to request the courts award you with fair compensation, you must be able to demonstrate your losses. You can prove monetary damages with:
- Medical bills
- Proof of lost wages (old paystubs or tax records)
- Reports from medical experts regarding prognosis and future treatments recommendations
Similarly, you can prove your non-monetary damages using things such as testimonies from a mental health expert and/or social worker, your pain journal, and testimonies from loved ones who have witnessed the impact of the accident on your life and well-being.
It is hard to identify and collect everything you need on your own. Your car accident attorney will be able to help you gather and compile the evidence necessary to substantiate your case.
What is the overall value of my car accident claim?
The overall value of your case is dependent upon numerous factors. You and your attorney can create a comprehensive list of damages and estimate the actual value of your case. First, tally all of your tangible damages, such as
- Your current and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- The cost of rehabilitation
- The cost of hiring someone to help perform your normal household activities
- Transportation expenses
Then, you will need to assess your non-monetary damages, such as depression, social anxiety, loss of quality of life, and mental anguish. Non-monetary damage awards reflect the severity of your accident.
Can I afford to hire a car accident lawyer in East Meadow?
Our firm handles all types of car accident cases in East Meadow, and we have a free consultation/contingency payment policy. This means that not only do we not charge you to meet with us and discuss your case, but should you decide to retain us for legal representation, we will not charge you for legal services unless and until we win your case. There are no up-front payments to worry about. We take our fees only from your final settlement.
In other words, if you do not recover, neither do we. We make your success and justice our main motivation.
Moreover, our system works. We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements for car accident victims in East Meadow and surrounding areas. Give our attorneys at Goldstein and Bashner a call. Contact us today: 516-222-4000.