Long Island Rear-End Collision Lawyer
When most people think of rear-end collisions, they think of minor auto accidents that occur at stop signs or red lights. They think of small taps on the bumper that cause no injuries or vehicle damage. While this is certainly true of some rear-end accidents, others cause serious and life-altering injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 2,000 people died in rear-end crashes in the U.S. in 2012.
If you suffered injuries in a rear-end collision on Long Island, let a Long Island car accident lawyer advise you about your legal options.
Elements of a Rear End Collision
A rear-end collision occurs when the one vehicle makes contact with the rear of another vehicle. These crashes occur on both surface streets and highways.
Because surface street collisions are typically much slower speed crashes, they are sometimes overlooked as minor incidents. However, highway rear-end collisions can occur at much higher speeds and lead to more catastrophic injuries.
Regardless of speed, you should always go to the doctor after an accident to treat or rule out any injuries.
Common Types of Injuries
Neck injuries are the most common complaints after a rear-end collision. Whiplash and other similar injuries often become chronic, debilitating health concerns that require ongoing treatment. Other common reasons accident victims seek medical care include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Facial lacerations
- Leg, ankle, and knee injuries
Whiplash is a serious medical issue, and requires medical treatment to alleviate symptoms and prevent further problems. Symptoms of whiplash or another neck injury include:
- Stiff neck
- Pain in the back, jaw, shoulder, and/or arm
- Ringing in the ears
- Depression, anxiety and other similar symptoms
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible. Diagnosing the condition as soon as possible is important both for your recovery and to ensure you maintain your right to file legal action in the case.
Steps to Take if Injured
Your first concern after a rear-end collision is your health and wellbeing. Getting the medical care you need is paramount; however, if you are able, you should collect as much information as possible while on the scene of the accident.
If your injuries prohibit you from doing so, you can obtain the police report which may have all the information you need, e.g., any citations issued, what police believe to be the cause, contact information, etc.
Potential Causes of Rear End Collisions
A number of factors contribute to the high number of rear-end collisions, but some of the most common include:
- Disobeying traffic laws: Speeding, tailgating, drinking while intoxicated, using a cell phone
- Rain, ice, and other weather
- Distracted driving, like texting or talking on a cell phone
In most rear-end collisions, liability is easy to determine. In many cases, the front car is still and the rear car fails to brake in time or adequately. Sometimes, though, the fault can lie with the other driver. Unsafe lane changes – when one car whips in front of another – are one of the most common causes of these accidents. In some cases, the liability may lie with a third-party.
New York is a no-fault state, so you must recover compensation from your own insurance first. However, if you meet the state’s minimum threshold for “serious” injuries or if your damages exceed your PIP benefits, you can step outside of the no-fault system and hold the other party responsible for compensation above and beyond that paid by your insurer.
In order to qualify as “seriously” injured, you must suffer one or more of the following types of injuries:
- Broken bones
- Significant disfigurement
- Lost use of a limb or other body part
- Significant limitation of a body function or system
- Full disability for a minimum of 90 days
Rear-end collision claim allow you to recover a variety of damages. This includes:
- Medical care
- Future medical needs
- Lost wages and lost future income
- Pain and suffering
It is important to note that New York law allows the awarding of punitive damages, although they are rare in personal injury cases. The most common awarding occurs in auto accident cases that involve drunk, drugged, distracted, or willfully malicious drivers.
Time Limits For Filing An Accident Claim
In most cases, you have a three-year time limit to recover compensation after a Long Island rear-end collision (N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214). You have two years to file a wrongful death claim (N.Y. E.P.T.L. § 5-4.1). Even though this may seem like a long time, consider the fact that you must first file with your own insurance and then prove your injuries to even be eligible to file a claim or suit.
It is best if you get started on your case as soon as possible. Begin gathering evidence and enlist the help of a lawyer from Goldstein & Bashner early on in the process.
Not only can we advise the best route to recovering compensation, we can also help you find the medical care you need to recover as quickly as possible.
While the statute of limitations applies only to taking legal action against the other driver, the ability to do so is a key motivator in most third-party Long Island auto accident claims. The insurance company has little reason to offer you a higher settlement when you have no other options for compensation beyond the insurance settlement the insurance company controls.
By beginning the settlement negotiation process well within the first three years after the accident, your attorney retains leverage to convince the insurance company you deserve a higher payout.
Negotiating a Settlement
Negotiating a settlement through your no-fault insurance policy is typically a quick and easy process. However, if you file a third-party claim through the other driver’s insurance, you should never accept a settlement without first discussing it with your lawyer.
Insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible, no matter how serious your injuries are and they have many ways to do this.
An insurance adjuster may ask you to agree to a recorded statement during which she may attempt to make you admit fault. Do not agree to a recorded statement before speaking with your attorney. This is the best way to ensure you receive as much compensation as you need to cover the full extent of your damages.