An automobile or car accident can be a life-altering experience. Often times, a crash is just the beginning of a painful, excruciating, and long-drawn affair, with one having to deal with getting treatment, paying medical bills, filing insurance claims, and if required, seeking compensation the legal way. In such a scenario, an automobile accident attorney can tell you exactly where you stand legally and can also assist you in seeking compensation for your suffering.
Bear in mind that automobile and car accident attorneys are essentially personal injury attorneys. More often than not, even the best car accident lawyers handle different types of personal injury cases.
Who Was at Fault?
Determining fault is crucial when it comes to seeking compensation for automobile and car accidents, although this is easier said than done. Personal injury attorneys and insurance companies tend to start by looking at police reports and then move to collecting witness statements. Photos of the accident scene, video footage from surveillance cameras, and the extent of damage to a vehicle can also help determine fault.
One factor that links the best personal injury attorneys in New York is their ability to accurately determine fault. Once an attorney can successfully establish and prove fault, seeking compensation becomes considerably easier.
Does Insurance Cover Your Claim?
Personal injury attorneys who specialize in seeking compensation for automobile accidents typically assess the viability of claims by checking if there are insurance policies that can help cover losses. For instance, your attorney could determine if the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carries adequate coverage to take care of your medical bills, vehicle damage, lost income, and other expenses that result because of the crash. You stand a better chance of succeeding if this is the case. In case the errant party is underinsured, getting the compensation you seek might not be easy.
According to data released by the Insurance Information Institute, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury stood at $15,785 in 2018. For property damage, it was $3,841. While the average collision claim in the same year was $3,574, the average comprehensive claim stood at $1,833.
What if Insurance Does Not Cover Your Costs?
New York is among the states that follow a no-fault insurance system. As per this, motorists in the state need to carry personal injury protection (PIP) or no-fault insurance. People who have this coverage have to file claims with their own insurance companies, irrespective of who is a fault. In case the maximum amount allowed through your insurance fails to meet the expenses that you incur because of the accident, you are at liberty to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Is the Window to File a Lawsuit Open?
When it comes to filing a lawsuit, one of the first things a personal injury attorney in New York will look at is if the window to do so is still open. If your accident occurred a few days, weeks, or months ago, you’re good to go. According to the statutes of limitations in New York, you get up to three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Once this period ends, you lose the right to take your case to court.
Even if you plan to settle your case out of court, it’s important to keep the three-year deadline in mind. This is because your power to negotiate for a settlement wanes greatly after this period ends.
What Damages May Compensation Cover?
Compensatory damages help put a monetary number to different types of suffering that arise because of an automobile or car accident. Juries look at damages of all types before arriving at settlement accounts. While actual damages compensate you for expenses linked directly to the accident, general damages cover pain, suffering, and more.
- Medical costs. You have the right to claim all medical expenses incurred because of the accident. These include, but do not limit to, hospitalization, tests, medications, in-home services, therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages. Having to deal with physical injuries can be bad enough, and matters may get considerably worse if you add lost income into the mix. Fortunately, you may include lost wages in your claim. If the accident results in your inability to get a promotion that you could otherwise, this can factor into your claim too.
- Vehicle/property damage. While an automobile and car accident injury attorney might handle a property/vehicle damage claim separately from a personal injury claim, you still need to go through the process of seeking compensation. If your car is damaged beyond repairs after the accident, you might be able to claim its fair market value. You might also be able to seek compensation for any belongings that were damaged in the accident.
- Non-economic damages. These refer to compensation for non-monetary and subjective losses that can come around because of pain, suffering, emotional anguish, inconvenience, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of activities. In New York, there is no maximum limit that one might claim as non-economic damages.
- Wrongful death damages. If an accident results in loss of life, one’s claim might seek damages for medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life/activities.
Anyone wondering if it is worth getting an attorney for a car accident should know that dealing with everything that follows on one’s own is quite an uphill task. Not only will you have to learn the legal intricacies that surround your case, you’ll need to know how best to negotiate. Besides, the entire process will take considerable time and effort.
With an experienced New York personal injury attorney by your side, you can rest easy in knowing that someone who’s well-versed with local laws will take care of the negotiations on your behalf. Besides, your attorney will also represent you in court, should the need arise. What you need to do to increase the odds of success is get the best personal injury attorney possible to handle your case.