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Auto Accident Attorney

How a New York City Auto Accident Lawyer Can Help You

The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) states that more than 4 million people require medical attention after auto accidents each year. Serious injuries can occur after motor vehicle accidents, including traumatic brain injury. If you are in a motor vehicle accident, even if it is not one that produces injuries, it is important for you to report your accident.  In addition to reporting it to the police, it is a good idea to call a New York car accident lawyer. Personal injury law firms can help you in a wide variety of ways to ensure you receive compensation for the accident.

What to Do Right After a Car Accident

Falling victim to a car accident may leave you in shock, but it is important to take several steps to protect yourself. If you or anyone else has an injury, call 911 to ask for medical assistance. Even if nobody was hurt, it’s important to call the police to the scene. Your insurance company will likely ask for an official accident report. Additionally, if you weren’t at fault and need to file a claim in court, you’ll need an official police report.

Next, gather evidence. Get a name, phone number, and insurance information from any other drivers on the scene. Use your smartphone to take pictures of the damage on both vehicles from various angles. Note the intersections and traffic patterns around the area of the accident. If any witnesses stayed on the scene, ask for their information and interpretation of events as well. After everyone received medical care for their car accident injuries and you have an official police report, consider calling a lawyer.

When to Call a New York City Car Accident Lawyer

You won’t always need an attorney after a car accident, but there are several situations in which you should call one right away. You are more likely to need legal representation if the accident caused serious injury to you or someone else, or if the accident created significant property damage but it is hard to tell who was at fault. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep a car crash attorney in mind if your accident involves another driver, someone on a bicycle, or a pedestrian, regardless of how minor it is. There are several other situations that may require an attorney as well.

  • Your accident occurred in a school zone
  • You were in an accident with someone who was uninsured or underinsured
  • You don’t agree with what the police put in their report
  • You are feeling confused about what your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company is saying
  • You or your passengers missed a significant amount of work due to the accident
  • Your insurance limits won’t cover all of your car repairs

Benefits of Calling a Lawyer for Car Accident Cases

There are a lot of benefits to having a car crash attorney on your side. For most people, the biggest benefit is that an attorney can help you take on insurance companies during car accident claims. The sad truth is that most insurance providers don’t want to pay out large sums of money to cover property damage or bodily injuries to car accident victims. When your insurance company doesn’t play fair, an attorney can present the facts and negotiate with them until you get fair compensation. Of course, that isn’t the only reason hiring an accident lawyer is beneficial.

Compensation

You probably already know that you need compensation for property damage and medical bills, but a lawyer for car crashes thinks above and beyond, such as considering any pain and suffering you’re going through. An attorney is also good at building a personal injury lawsuit case whereas you probably don’t have any experience in trying to gain compensation from an insurance company or through the courts.

Deadlines

The statute of limitations varies by state and situation. For example, if you are in an accident with a government vehicle, you have less time to file a claim than if you were in an accident with a civilian vehicle. Paperwork deadlines, court deadlines, and more are also important and can be easy to miss if you are also undergoing medical treatment and trying to maintain your daily life. An auto accident lawyer can help you meet your deadlines.

Investigation

A car crash attorney has experience investigating car accidents. Attorneys often have contacts who are professional private investigators or who are accident scene experts. Their work will provide a more thorough investigation via recreation teams, forensic teams, and more. This means a more thorough look at the scene than what a simple police report can provide.

Paperwork

Auto Accident Lawyer NY

Regardless of whether your insurance provider acts in good faith, you’ll have a lot of paperwork that you’ll need to fill out after a car accident, and much of it can be quite confusing. An attorney has experience filling out these forms and can help you ensure you do so correctly and submit them on time.

One final benefit of hiring a car crash attorney is that many work on a contingency basis. This means that you do not need to pay for services unless you actually receive compensation from your car accident lawsuit. No upfront fees make it easier for people of any financial background to receive the help they deserve after an accident.

What to Expect if Your Car Accident Case Goes to Trial

If you aren’t at fault for the accident but the other driver’s insurance company refuses a fair settlement, you may find that you and your car accident lawyer need to take your case to trial as a personal injury claim. As the plaintiff, the burden of proof falls on you. That means you’ll need an experienced attorney to help you prove that you suffered lost wages, have high medical bills, have a loss of quality of life, or have some other pain and suffering. There are several steps to the trial process.

Gathering Evidence

First, you and your attorney need to gather evidence that proves your pain and suffering. In addition to the police report, you’ll need to provide pictures of the accident, gather statements from the eyewitnesses, and provide your medical records as they relate to the accident. Your attorney will also determine whether the defendant has a poor driving record. Several other pieces of information may come into play as well, such as whether the defendant was on the clock when the accident occurred, whether he or she had a medical record that made driving dangerous, and whether the driver was under the influence of anything during the accident.

Exchanging Information

After you gather evidence, the two parties exchange information in what is known as the discovery process. The exchange typically includes interrogatories, documents, and depositions, although some other legal tools are available sometimes. The interrogatories are typically the most important. They are a list of questions that each side must answer in full and as accurately as possible.

Talking to Experts

Sometimes, the investigation and discovery processes aren’t quite enough. In this case, experts may become a part of your case. Experts who recreate accidents, engineers, forensic experts, or even doctors may provide depositions or even take the stand during trials for car accident lawsuits.

Waiting for Deliberation

After we present all the facts of your case in front of a judge and jury, the jury will deliberate. They will decide if you deserve compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, and, if you do, how much compensation is fair.

Receiving Compensation

Once the jury determines an amount, the defendant has a certain amount of time to send the money. He or she will send it directly to your car accident lawyer. Most firms, including this firm, would not send any portion of the settlement to a client’s bank. Rather, most firms would write a check to the client.

Queens Car Accident Lawyer Guide

Queens Car Accident Lawyer Guide

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 5 million and 6 million auto accidents occur in the U.S. every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that of those accidents, 2 million result in injuries, and over 32,000 result in death.

The damage is often substantial, causing physical and emotional pain while creating significant financial strain on car accident victims and their loved ones. In the overwhelming aftermath, you should not have to face the repercussions of someone else’s negligence alone.

Experienced Queens car accident lawyers will represent your best interests and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Common Causes of Car Accidents in New York

Common Causes of Car Accidents in New York

Car accidents happen every day in New York, and the causes vary greatly. New York City, in particular, is a challenging place to navigate by driving because of its dense population.

An experienced car accident attorney can answer questions surrounding many different circumstances leading up to and following a collision, but some common causes of car accidents in New York include:

  • Distracted driving, including using a phone, changing the radio station, searching for something in the vehicle, eating, or even thinking about something other than driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Poor road conditions, including broken or uneven pavement and fallen debris
  • Vehicle failures, such as a damaged brake system or tire blowouts
  • Driving carelessly or recklessly

 

Poor road conditions alone do not amount to negligent driving, but speeding on poor road conditions does.

Reckless Driving Further Explained

Reckless driving can include a number of activities:

  • Failing to yield for drivers that have the right-of-way
  • Making improper turns 
  • Weaving in and out of lanes, especially during heavy traffic
  • Failing to obey traffic laws, including signals and signs
  • Failing to signal before making a turn or changing lanes
  • Crossing several lanes to take an exit
  • Merging into traffic without regard for other drivers

 

Driving aggressively is one of the most common forms of reckless driving that a car crash lawyer sees. Aggressive drivers often speed or tailgate other drivers, and riding too closely while driving at high speed can lead to rear-end accidents with serious injuries.

Queens car accident attorneys can help you better understand the laws that govern reckless and aggressive driving.

Steps to Take Following an Auto Accident

No two motor vehicle accidents are perfectly identical. The shocking nature may leave you confused, injured, and unsure about what happens next.

Generally, an auto accident lawyer may advise you to take a few basic steps to help yourself and anyone who suffered car accident injuries as well as collect evidence for your claim or potential lawsuit.

Consider these six steps:

  1. See if anyone in your vehicle suffered injuries. In the seconds that follow a collision, you may struggle to remain calm. However, take a moment to check yourself for injuries before you move to assess any other passengers. Then, call 911 and wait for the ambulance to arrive if anyone needs emergency medical services.
  2. Contact the police. If you call 911, the police should arrive with emergency services. However, if you do not need emergency medical assistance, you can contact the police and report the accident. Minor accidents without personal injuries or significant property damage may not warrant a police presence. However, you should still report the accident either online or in-person if that happens. 
  3. Avoid speaking to the other driver about the details of the accident. Sometimes nervousness may cause you to talk without thinking. For example, apologizing is a natural response, but it implies fault. When the police arrive, they conduct an investigation and often try to determine the responsible party. Therefore, you may benefit from not speaking about what happened beyond providing your statement to the officers.
  4. Take pictures. Use your phone to document damages and injuries, including everything around the scene, such as traffic lights and signs. If you decide to record a video, voiceover any details you can provide while they remain fresh in your mind.
  5. See a medical professional. Even if your injuries are minor, go to the emergency room or urgent care to have a doctor evaluate your condition. It helps to have official records of your injuries, but also, you may suffer internal injuries with latent symptoms. Adrenaline can mask pain, making you feel fine when you are not. 
  6. Contact a Queens car accident lawyer. The sooner you reach out to a car accident attorney, the more likely you will build a stronger case. 

 

You are under no legal obligation to hire an attorney. However, personal injury attorneys often work on contingency and offer free consultations to evaluate your potential for compensation. It is of no financial consequence to you, and a lawyer can answer questions you may have about your case. 

How No-Fault Car Insurance Affects Your Case

New York is one of only 13 states that mandate no-fault car insurance, also known as personal injury protection, for all licensed drivers that tend to operate a vehicle. No-fault states limit your ability to recover compensation for damages. 

Following an auto accident, you would turn to your no-fault insurance coverage to recover compensation for some of your economic losses. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical costs, lost wages, and any other necessary expenses related to your injury, such as at-home help and transportation to and from medical services providers. 

PIP coverage eliminates the relevancy of fault in an auto accident case. However, you may still hire an auto accident lawyer and file a liability claim or lawsuit under two conditions.

First, you can seek further compensation if the cost of damages in your case exceeds the limitations of PIP coverage. Second, you may sue the responsible party in your accident if you suffered injuries that meet New York’s threshold for serious injury.

The threshold includes:

  • Injuries resulting in complete disability for at least 90 days
  • Injuries causing significant disfigurement
  • Suffering limited use of a body system or function
  • Suffering permanent limited use of a member or organ of the body
  • Fracturing one or more bones

 

Additionally, a car accident attorney can help you value the non-economic damages associated with your injuries or losses. Your PIP insurance only covers the economic damages, but in a lawsuit, you can request compensation for the mental and emotional distress caused by the accident and your resulting injuries.

If you lost a loved one in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you would likely benefit from speaking to a Queens car accident lawyer about the recoverable damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Damages You May Recover From a Claim or Lawsuit

Damages You May Recover From a Claim or Lawsuit

Every personal injury case involves damages. When you file a claim with the insurer or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you seek compensation for the losses you suffered because of the accident. The court refers to those losses as compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages, as the name implies, should compensate the injured person in an effort to restore them to their financial positions prior to the accident. There are two categories of compensatory damages: special and general.

Special Damages

Special damages, also known as specific or economic damages, are typically the easiest to calculate and prove. These include:

  • Cost of medical care: ambulance expenses, emergency room visits, hospital stays, physician and specialist visits, diagnostic tests and medical imaging, medications, assistive devices, and rehabilitative therapies, such as physical or occupational
  • Loss of income: missed work, future missed work and loss or reduction of earning ability if your injuries impede you from doing the job you did before the accident
  • Any related household or transportation expenses: hired household assistance for housekeeping or childcare, remodeling or renovating to accommodate your injuries or disability, transportation to and from medical treatment appointments, and any other out-of-pocket expenses deemed necessary
  • Property damage: repair or replacement of your vehicle and any other property damaged in during the crash, such as electronics or other valuables

 

An auto accident lawyer will collect the evidence to support a claim for these damages. For example, medical bills from the hospital and doctor, along with estimates for future medical treatments, will prove claims for medical expenses. You may need recent pay stubs to prove lost wages and future lost income. Additionally, estimations or receipts support a claim for property damage. 

General Damages

General damages, also known as non-economic damages, are more subjective than special damages. These include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish, may cause depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder or generalized anxiety
  • Loss of the ability to enjoy life
  • Disfigurement

 

A Queens car accident lawyer may use various methods to calculate general damages. For example, they may add up the special damages and multiply it by a number they determine based on several questions about your case. The number is typically between 1.5 and 5, and questions may include:

  • How do your injuries impact your ability to do your normal daily activities?
  • How severe are your injuries?
  • Will your injuries result in long-term effects or permanent disability?
  • What are your medical treatments so far?
  • Do doctors expect you to recover fully? If so, what is the estimated recovery time?
  • How much treatment do doctors anticipate you will need in the future?

 

An experienced car accident attorney should argue for the highest reasonable multiplier, and in some cases may result in an increase of the multiplier cap, depending on the severity of the injuries. Your attorney may also use statements and testimonies from yourself and your family and friends to prove a change in your mental or emotional state. 

Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages

Punitive damages serve a different purpose than compensatory damages. If the court determines that the defendant acted with malice or showed no regard for the safety of others, they may require the at-fault driver to pay a set amount in punitive damages as punishment. Only in rare cases does the court award punitive damages. 

Negligence is not enough to warrant payment of punitive damages. Your car accident attorney must show that the defendant acted recklessly and with gross negligence. In a car accident case, gross negligent action may include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving a vehicle with known defects, such as a non-operational braking system
  • Speeding through areas, such as parks or school zones, with a high volume of pedestrian traffic

 

Your Queens car accident lawyer can request a punishment of punitive damages if the cause of the accident involves gross negligence. However, the court considers the defendant’s financial situation when determining an amount.

Ultimately, if the defendant is a wealthy person or corporation, you can likely expect a higher punitive damages award.

How Shared Fault Can Affect Your Compensation

When the police arrive at the scene of a car accident, they immediately begin investigating the damages and cause of the accident. When they can quickly identify an at-fault party, they will name the responsible party in the accident report.

However, determining fault is not always a cut-and-dry process.

Suppose you suffer a significant injury that meets the New York injury threshold to file a lawsuit and decide to hire a car accident attorney to represent you in the case. Then your auto accident lawyer will conduct an independent investigation to collect evidence and determine fault.

The defendant’s insurance company will do the same. 

The Rule of Comparative Negligence Applied to an Auto Accident Case

Sometimes, investigations lead to a shared fault determination. When the plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit shares responsibility for the accident, they also share responsibility for the resulting damages.

However, being partially at fault does not render you ineligible for compensation. Instead, the comparative negligence rule dictates that you can still receive the portion of the award compensation or settlement remaining after a deduction equaling your percentage of fault. 

Additionally, there are two types of comparative negligence: pure and modified. Most states follow modified comparative negligence, which does not allow the plaintiff to receive compensation if their percentage of fault exceeds a threshold of 50% or 51% as determined by the state.

However, in New York, under the pure comparative rule, you are still eligible for compensation, even if your percentage of fault is higher than the defendant’s share. 

Your Queens car accident lawyer can help you better understand if and how this may specifically affect your case. However, consider the following general example.

If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury determines if you are at fault and exactly what percentage. Then, they deduct that percentage from the final awarded compensation.

Therefore, if the court awards you $500,000 and determines that you are 20% responsible for the accident, you still receive $400,000 compensation. On the other hand, if the court finds you 80% responsible, you still receive $100,000 because New York allows you to receive compensation as long as you are not solely at fault.

If Your Auto Accident Case Goes to Trial

If Your Auto Accident Case Goes to Trial

Most car accident cases settle outside of court. However, if you do not settle because the insurance company refuses to offer a fair amount for your claim, your lawsuit will likely go to trial.

As the plaintiff, the burden of proof falls on you, and that means you may want to consider hiring an auto accident lawyer if you have not already. A car accident attorney will prepare your case for trial. A personal injury trial follows these general stages:

  • Jury selection begins. Potential jurors answer questions to determine their ability to view your case with impartiality. After eliminations, the final count is 12 jurors.
  • Prosecution and defense give opening statements. The plaintiff typically goes first and uses the opportunity to lay out your narrative of the accident and how it affected your life.
  • The prosecution presents its evidence. If you hire a Queens car accident lawyer, they call witnesses and present physical evidence to prove that the other driver acted negligently and that those actions caused the accident and your injuries. 
  • The defense presents its evidence. Once the prosecution rests, the defense presents witnesses and evidence. Generally, the defense wants to prove that you either share some responsibility for the accident or are solely responsible.
  • Both sides give closing arguments. This entails presenting a summary of what each side offered in evidence and making a final statement about the claims. 
  • The jury deliberates. The jury then considers all the evidence and reaches a verdict before returning to the courtroom to read the verdict aloud. 

 

Most car accident trials only last for a few days. However, the severity of your accident and any complexities in fault determination could extend the trial for longer.

Benefits of Contacting an Auto Accident Lawyer

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of hiring a car accident attorney is that they push back when the insurance companies try to use bad faith tactics to settle cases in the best interests of the company. Insurers instruct their supervisors to pressure adjustors into doing whatever it takes to pay out as little as possible.

An experienced Queens car accident attorney sees this behavior often and knows how to combat it.

Common Bad Faith Tactics Used by Insurance Companies

If you speak to the adjuster about your case with the representation of an auto accident lawyer, you will likely experience some common tactics that insurers use to avoid a heavy payout. Some examples include:

  • Directing the blame toward you and trying to get you to admit fault
  • Delaying communication to drag out the process, sometimes until the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit runs out
  • Speak with you disrespectfully or make threatening statements
  • Denying your claim with a reason or explanation
  • Refusing to provide documentation without explanation
  • Delaying the investigation into your claim or not conducting it at all
  • Delaying payment for your claim without a reason
  • Offering you significantly less money than your claim is worth
  • Intentionally changing or misrepresenting the law or the language in the policy
  • Denying reasonable requests for necessary medical treatments without a reason

 

Unfortunately, some of these tactics work when the claimant does not have experience. Insurers rely on delays to get you to accept a significantly lower settlement than you deserve.

However, they often refrain from such behavior when dealing with legal representation rather than directly speaking with the claimant.

If you have any of these experiences with an insurance company after filing a claim, they will likely continue until they exhaust your efforts. Insurers have a responsibility to conduct a prompt investigation into your claim and present valid reasons for denials. 

Other Advantages of Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

Beyond handling communication with the insurance companies, your attorney will also:

  • Prepare and file the paperwork necessary to begin a lawsuit
  • Continue negotiations for settlement even while preparing your case for a potential trial
  • Employ the help of accident experts and injury specialists to conduct a thorough investigation into your accident if necessary
  • Protect your rights and keep you from settling before you should
  • Keep you from making any damaging statements or providing any information that could hurt your claim or lawsuit
  • Help you determine fault in your case
  • More accurately value your claim and possibly find damages you did not know to include
  • Collect the evidence needed to prove your claim
  • Be a supportive but professional presence during this highly emotional time

 

In the devastation that often follows a car accident, you need support from a car accident lawyer you can trust to represent you aggressively. At Elliot Ifraimoff and Associates, PC, we have a combined over 60 years of combined legal experience in personal injury cases and can get you the compensation that you need and deserve.

We understand how mentally, physically, and financially taxing a car accident is for the victims of another driver’s negligence. That is why we do our best to ensure that you are comfortable with our legal expertise and can rely on us to take care of your case, giving you more time to focus on your recovery.

To speak with an auto accident lawyer at Elliot Ifraimoff and Associates, PC, personal injury law firm contact our office today for a free consultation

Contact Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC

Were you injured in a car accident through no fault of your own? Do you need help from a law firm to fight for compensation? Contact a professional and experienced car accident lawyer from Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates to help you today.

Sources:

https://www.callrainwater.com/practice-areas/auto-accident/when-to-call-an-attorney/ 

https://www.knrlegal.com/columbus-office/practice-areas/car-accident-lawyers/