A serious car accident can immediately bring life to standstill. There are injuries to deal with, treatments to consider, bills to pay, and insurance issues to take care of. If your or a loved one’s injuries are severe, there are long-term ramifications and emotional issues that you will have to address, too. It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed and dazed during the aftermath and first few weeks after the accident.
At Goldstein & Bashner, our car accident lawyers in Uniondale, NY are here to answer any legal and insurance questions you may have, and help you recover the maximum settlement possible to help meet your needs while you are recovering. Call our office at 516-222-4000 to speak to a lawyer about your accident today.
Who pays for my damages after a car accident?
New York is a no-fault insurance state. You usually recover compensation for your damages by filing a claim with your auto insurer. You should be carrying at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in personal injury protection (PIP), so your damages will be covered up to that amount.
There are special circumstances though, in which you would take an alternative route and file a different type of claim or a lawsuit against another party. Below are a few examples of when that might apply:
- You sustain a “serious injury,” as per New York State’s definition. (More on that in the next section.) Serious injuries entitle you to step outside the no-fault system and seek recovery via a liability claim or lawsuit.
- Your damages exceed your PIP coverage. You can file a suit against the other party if they caused the accident and you have exhausted your PIP.
- Your accident occurred while you were on-the-job. In this case, you can file a workers’ compensation claim.
- Your accident was caused by a defect with your car or the road. You might be able to sue the car manufacturer or the city if its negligence led to your accident.
Obviously, there are various options for recovery to explore after a car accident. It is important to investigate them all carefully before moving forward so you do not make any costly mistakes that could cost you money. For detailed information about your options in Uniondale, NY, call 516-222-4000.
Are my injuries serious enough to sue the other driver?
Fortunately, when your injuries are serious, you retain the right to seek supplemental damages by filing a suit against the at-fault party. To file suit, you will need to be able to prove that your injury meets the following definition, provided in New York Insurance Law 5102(d), in order to file suit:
A “serious injury” means a personal injury that results in:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss or consequential limitation of use of a body organ, member, function or system
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- “Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person's usual and customary daily activities for not less than  days.”
Remember also that even if your injuries do not meet this criteria, you may still file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver if your costs exceed your PIP coverage.
For example, a trip to the emergency room can run you $2,800, and that is not including the cost of the ambulance. On top of that, it will cost you about $1,800/day to stay in the hospital if treatment is necessary. Add to that diagnostic tests (an MRI runs about $1,200), labs, surgery (a simple back surgery can cost over $10,000), prescriptions, rehabilitation, and follow-ups, and you can easily max out your PIP. [Source for estimates: Healthcare Bluebook]
What can I expect during the car accident claims process?
After tending to your immediate needs, you will need to report the accident to your insurer. Before you do, speak to an attorney for a review of your case and for guidance on how best to move forward with a claim. This will help you avoid common mistakes claimants make that wind up hurting the outcome of their claim. (Our firm offers free consultations, so feel free to run your case by one of our car accident lawyers in Uniondale, NY.)
When you speak with your insurance adjuster to report the accident, they will ask you a series of questions. Only provide basic info, and never admit fault or minimize your injuries. Innocent statements can be misconstrued and work against you. After documenting your information, an adjuster will review your damages and then offer a settlement.
CAUTION: Initial settlements are usually on the low side; you probably qualify for more. Do not sign any offers without having your attorney check it for accuracy and completeness first. Your lawyer can work with the adjuster directly and negotiate for more.
If your claim is accepted and you can agree on a settlement with the insurer, you can sign the offer and you will receive a check for your damages.
What types of damages can I recover?
There are various damages that are recoverable in a car accident claim. It is crucial to be as specific and comprehensive as possible when demanding damages after an accident so you receive a full settlement.
Make sure you, your doctor, and your attorney have a clear idea of the scope of your injury and your future medical needs before you settle your case. If you fail to list some of your losses on your claim, you cannot go back and ask for more money after the case concludes. Your attorney can help you gather records, tally your current and future losses, and estimate the value of your claim.
Some of the damages you can recover include:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Miscellaneous medical expenses, such as medical devices, prescription medicines, assistive devices, and transportation to your appointments
- Loss of work time, promotions, and benefits
- Reduced functional capacity, i.e., disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- The cost of hiring help around the house or renovating your home to accommodate a permanent disability
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
- General pain and suffering
- Death benefits (In fatal cases, survivors can file a wrongful death claim and recover damages such as lost wages and benefits, loss of support and love, and funeral expenses.)
How do I expedite my car accident claim?
Bills quickly amass after a car accident and can instantly cause a financial crisis. The sooner you get started with your claim, the sooner you may get your settlement. For car accidents in Uniondale, NY, call Goldstein & Bashner for legal representation. Call us today at 516-222-4000 to discuss your case.