Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. You may suffer severe injuries, lose your job, and find yourself buried in debt – despite having accident insurance. If you feel like you’re drowning in debt following an accident, you aren’t alone. Hiring an auto accident attorney may be the solution you need.
When a negligent driver causes your injuries, he or she may be responsible for the medical bills. If you have little to no experience with car accident lawyers, we can outline the importance of having an advocate on your side before you file a claim or car accident lawsuit.
Identifying Accident Risks
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were over 36,000 motor vehicle fatalities in 2019. Of those accidents, about 54% occurred in urban areas. Reckless drivers endanger everyone who shares the road with them. You may choose to drive cautiously only to suffer severe injuries or damage at the hands of someone else.
One of the significant factors behind collisions in the U.S. is the speed of the driver. Speeding contributes to at least 25% of car accident fatalities. Speeding may occur for various reasons, including the thrill of it, falling behind schedule, and habit.
When drivers speed, it drastically reduces their ability to react to hazards on the road. The faster the vehicle moves, the more distance the vehicle needs to stop. Speed also vastly decreases a person’s ability to maintain control in icy, snowy, or rainy conditions.
When learning to operate a vehicle, most of us understand the importance of attention on the road. However, inattention is still one of the most common factors behind auto accidents. Various types of distractions may fight for a motorist’s attention. They can be separated into three distinct categories:
- Cognitive distractions
- Visual distractions
- Motor distractions
Some diversions may fall under multiple categories. For example, when drivers text and drive, they engage in all three types of distraction. A mobile phone serves as a visual distraction because drivers take their eyes off the road to send or read a text, as a manual distraction because they need at least one hand to text, and as a cognitive distraction because their focus on their phone can counter the attention necessary to drive safely.
Other types of distractions include:
Even subconsciously, drivers can become victims of distractions. The best way to stay focused on the road is to avoid multitasking at all costs.
Many Americans suffer from fatigue. Some may believe they can still operate a vehicle safely, even if they don’t get enough sleep the night before. They may not realize that the lack of sleep affects their physical and mental health as well as judgment and coordination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims that if you remain awake for at least 18 hours, your coordination and capacity to drive is the same as a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05%.
Motorists suffering from fatigue may not notice themselves nodding off behind the wheel. Microsleeps occur when someone is sleep-deprived and include nodding off for a few seconds at a time. In general, drowsy driving may be underreported when it comes to car accidents. Most people do not want to admit that they were tired or fell asleep behind the wheel.
Aggressive driving may be behind over half of all fatal crashes. When drivers experience anger and hostility behind the wheel, it can lead to dangerous decisions. While aggressive driving may contribute to road rage, it is not necessarily the same as road rage. Road rage is a highly deliberate act or practice that causes an immediate risk to another person or property.
Examples of road rage include using rude gestures, ramming, hitting, or bumping another vehicle, or using headlights and brakes to intimidate a driver. One of the most common excuses people give for aggressive driving is running late.
To consume alcohol before or while driving is illegal throughout the U.S. Alcohol and drugs affect your judgment, coordination, and sight. Even if a person’s BAC is below the legal limit, they may still be too impaired to be behind the wheel. Some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can also cause a person to lose the ability to react to hazards or to make sound decisions while on the road.
Navigating New York’s Accident Law
After a car accident, it is typical to assign fault to one or both drivers. Generally, one person is more responsible for the accident than the other. New York, however, is considered a “no-fault” state. When you file a personal injury claim on your own, you are unlikely to win. However, when you have a firm that understands the laws and regulations, you boost your chances.
In no-fault states, every driver involved in the accident has to file a claim with his or her own insurance company. It does not matter which person caused the accident. The motivation behind no-fault systems is to lower the cost of auto insurance. Every insurance company compensates the policyholders for injuries and damages. If you were the victim of another person’s recklessness, you might not be sure what this means for your claim. You direct your claim to your insurance company first.
Limits to No-Fault
The no-fault law does have limits. As a driver, you are required to carry $50,000 coverage for expenses. Unfortunately, accident injuries and damages can far exceed the coverage. If you do not have additional personal injury protection benefits, you may sue the party responsible for recovering costs over your policy limit.
If you happen to drive a motorcycle, you are also excluded from the no-fault benefits. You can file a claim against another driver right away.
When you file a lawsuit against the other driver, you have to prove fault. To accurately determine your claim, consider your medical bills, vehicle damage, and any lost wages from time off work. When ensuring you receive adequate compensation, continue to follow your doctor’s orders.
Even if you begin to feel better, never stop treatment. For example, suppose your doctor orders several weeks of treatment, but you stop because you feel better. In that case, the defendant can try to use this fact against you and claim that you caused your condition to deteriorate against the doctor’s orders. To have a strong case and show your injuries exceeded the limit, keep track of your medical records.
Reaping the Benefits of Hiring an Auto Accident Attorney
If you feel you may have a valid lawsuit, you should act as quickly as possible. While your priority is your health, you do not want to jeopardize your case by waiting too long. You have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of New York. Though that may seem like plenty of time, it is easy to lose track of time during medical treatment, rehabilitative therapy, and healing – so it is best to act soon.
Naturally, it isn’t easy to focus on a complex case when you are trying to recover. You may feel overwhelmed by the idea of a lawsuit, not to mention the legalities involved. Bringing your case in front of a lawyer gives you peace of mind and allows you to breathe easy knowing the case is in better hands.
Auto accidents are personal events. They are painful and traumatic, and you may find it difficult to think objectively. You deserve justice, but if you try to take care of the case yourself, you may become more upset during the process. Filing a lawsuit can be frustrating and overwhelming. When you’re already furious, you may not be able to think clearly. One mistake can destroy your entire case.
It is better for your health and for your case to give the reins to a lawyer. Your lawyer is objective and will listen to the details of your case without experiencing the same amount of stress and headache that you do.
Unfortunately, insurance companies may attempt to pay the lowest amount possible. When negotiating with an insurance adjuster or the defendant’s attorney, expect a low first offer. While the amount of compensation you deserve may be clear to you, it is not always clear to others. The defendant may try to poke holes in your story. When you set out to negotiate, it is easy to say the wrong thing to harm your case.
Your attorney has experience dealing with insurance companies and car accident claim defendants. He or she can guide you on what to say and what not to say. For instance, an apology can be seen as an admission of guilt. The lawyer can handle negotiations or provide you with a script on how to manage the conversation. Before you accept a settlement, you’ll have guidance in the right direction.
Legal advocates have the formula to calculate a reasonable car accident settlement. The formula works by adding all of your expenses, including present and future medical costs, lost earnings, property damage, future lost income. Once you have the economic losses, you have to consider pain and suffering. Pain and suffering costs are estimated by how life-changing or painful your injuries are. The more long-lasting, the higher the multiplier will be. The attorney may choose a number between 1.5 and five to multiply the sum by to achieve an estimate.
Without knowing what others have earned from their car accident settlement, you may not know what a fair number is. Your attorney can value the claim and consider various aspects of your case to determine a reasonable demand.
Following an accident, it is natural to feel alone. A collision is a traumatic experience, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a risk. You may have difficulty processing your emotions or feel bombarded with negative feelings, like confusion, grief, and helplessness. On top of your emotional turmoil, you have to deal with stacking medical costs against the limits of your car insurance. When you hire a lawyer, you finally have an advocate in your corner. You deserve support as much as you deserve compensation.
Not only does the lawyer provide an outlet to discuss the accident, but he or she also gives you a break from the hard work. You do not have to handle the research or paperwork.
Accident Injury Experience
While your lawyer cannot offer medical advice, he or she can ensure you receive adequate medical attention. Accident attorneys see collision-related injuries every day. The most common injuries include neck and back injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, and mental health conditions associated with the accident. If you have complications from an injury, your lawyer may guide you to see another doctor or receive a second opinion.
How much do you know about personal injury law? An auto accident attorney understands the laws and regulations regarding your claim. They can decipher the ins and outs of your insurance contract and explain to you the intricacies of the New York no-fault law. If you file a lawsuit alone, you have to brush up on your legal knowledge. When you hire a lawyer, he or she has the information readily available, and you do less of the work.
Every case has unique circumstances. Attorneys can assess the case and offer legal advice to hold your insurance company and the at-fault driver accountable.
When meeting with an auto accident lawyer, he or she can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove the other party liable. Your lawyer may visit the accident scene to assess the situation. If you have photos of the accident, bring those along to your consultation. Having pictures and other evidence relevant to the collision site can increase the lawyer’s understanding of what happened.
In addition to photos, the lawyer can contact the police department to collect police reports. Likewise, your lawyer may be able to contact witnesses, both civilian and police.
Finding a Queens Car Accident Lawyer
To find a lawyer, you may need to do some additional research. There are several qualities that potential attorneys should have. Keep in mind that most car accident lawyers should provide you with a free consultation. During the consultation, a lawyer will assess your case and determine whether it makes sense for you to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
Lawyers understand how important it is for you to see how other clients feel. The outcome of a case, and the feelings of the client, are representative of the firm. An honest law firm will proudly display testimonials on its website. While credibility can be proven in various ways, a lawyer with genuine reviews and honest critique stands out. Transparency is critical.
Attorney testimonials should include whether the client is satisfied or unsatisfied with the resolution, how they valued the law firm, and whether he or she would recommend the law firm to someone else. When lawyers ask for testimonials, they are also more likely to take critique seriously. A lawyer who values how clients feel may make positive changes after a mistake.
When researching law firms, look at the years of experience. A law firm that does not represent its clients or produces positive results will not stay in business for very long. After 60 years of experience, Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC understands the needs of clients.
In addition to the number of years, research the case results. What types of cases does your potential law firm handle?
You may look at the award settlement too. For example, when a lawyer takes on an ambitious case, asking for millions of dollars in compensation, it only matters when he or she wins. When you arrive at the office to discuss your case, you deserve a lawyer who will not only be able to estimate the settlement but will not make empty promises.
Your case is in your attorney’s hands. To establish trust, an attorney should be honest but kind. For example, if you arrive at the consultation and claim you want a higher settlement than the lawyer believes he or she could win, the attorney has an obligation to tell you. This is someone you have to work closely with throughout the claim. Cautious optimism is a good sign. Trustworthy lawyers understand various factors that will determine your case’s outcome.
Trustworthy lawyers understand various factors that will determine your case’s outcome.
In addition to being honest about the case, trust can be established when discussing all of the upfront fees. There should never be surprises. You should understand the costs of your case but also the likelihood of winning your settlement. When visiting with a lawyer, trust your instincts. You should feel good after the consultation.
There are various benefits to working with a lawyer. The main advantage is that you have a higher likelihood of winning your case and receiving a settlement. Understanding New York’s no-fault law may be complex for many drivers. At Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC, we aggressively fight to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.