Accidents happen, even to the best of drivers. In February 2022 alone, Queens, New York, saw nearly 2000 car accidents resulting in hundreds of injuries and six deaths.
The top three causes of these accidents were distracted driving, failing to yield, and following too closely. No matter how well you drive, you can’t predict what others will do on the road.
This is why it’s so important to understand what car accident victims can do if they need compensation for their injuries, vehicle damage, or lost wages. Understanding what to do after an accident, when to hire a New York car accident lawyer, and what to expect throughout the process can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
One thing to keep in mind when deciding whether to file a claim or take a case to court is that New York is a no-fault state. “No-fault” refers to a type of auto insurance. This type of plan pays for the damage of a car accident no matter which driver caused the accident.
Simply put, your insurance company will handle your claim, and the other driver’s insurance company will handle theirs. New York no-fault insurance has a minimum coverage of $50,000, but the claim must be filed within 30 days of the accident unless you can prove there were extenuating circumstances that prevented you from doing so.
Following a car accident, do what you can to ensure you have all the facts about the accident and can protect your rights. If you or someone else has an injury, call 911 immediately to get police and medical personnel on the scene.
If you can, move your car out of the way to avoid blocking traffic.
If you do not need medical attention, use your smartphone to take photographs of the accident scene, including your car, any other cars that were part of the accident, and any other property that received damage. Take pictures from a variety of angles to be sure that you have everything a car accident law firm will ask for, should you decide to hire one.
Were there any witnesses to the accident? If so, ask them what they saw and record their answers if they are comfortable with it.
You should also ask witnesses for a phone number or email address, as the insurance companies or anyone involved in a court case may want to ask the witnesses questions. If possible, talk to the other driver and get his or her contact information and insurance information.
After you collect your evidence, it is important to avoid discussing the accident with the other drivers or posting about it or your injuries on social media. If you decide to file a claim or take a case to court, the other driver’s insurance company or car accident attorney will look for anything possible to discredit your case.
Too often, an innocent Facebook post or tweet is useful for the other side to “prove” your injuries aren’t as bad as you say.
Distracted driving is by far one of the most common causes of car accidents in Queens, New York. People check their smartphones, fiddle with the radio stations, eat, put on makeup, and even read while they’re driving, all of which can lead to more accidents.
Poor driving skills are another common cause of accidents in the city. Speeding, changing lanes without checking mirrors, not yielding to other vehicles, or driving too close to other vehicles can all result in accidents.
Bad weather conditions can also lead to serious accidents on the road. If roads are icy or snowy, it is important to stay off them if you can. If you do need to drive in inclement weather, go slowly and keep lots of extra space between you and other cars.
Finally, sometimes an accident occurs because of an equipment failure. A tire blows out, brakes fail, or other serious parts malfunction, leading to accidents on the road.
There are various types of car accidents, each of which can cause serious injuries and damage, even at low rates of speed. The most common crashes are rear-ended crashes due to people following too closely.
Head-on collisions due to unsafe lane changing or loss of control often occur, too. Other common types of car accidents include rollover crashes, T-bone accidents, and sideswipe accidents. Plenty of car crashes is the result of drunk driving or hit-and-runs as well.
Many types of injuries can occur as the result of a car accident. Some of them are minor, but others can be life-changing. Perhaps some of the most common injuries are neck and spinal cord injuries. When your car suddenly stops, your body will jerk forward, which can cause whiplash.
This can happen even in low-speed accidents. Spinal cord injuries are even more serious, as they can lead to paralysis or other serious impairments. There are other common injuries to watch out for as well.
The force of a car accident may cause seatbelts or other items in the car to collide with you, causing broken ribs or other fractures that often take time to heal.
If the gasoline in a car ignites during a collision, it could lead to severe burns that require long hospital stays and many surgeries.
Many car accidents, especially head-on collisions, result in head injuries. Brain injuries often aren’t noticeable right away and may cause years of psychological or medical problems once discovered.
Blood loss is common in car accidents, including internal bleeding. If a person has internal bleeding after an accident, it can result in a coma, organ failure, or worse, and may require complex surgeries to repair.
Glass, sharp edges, and other items in the car can cause severe wounds and permanent scarring after an auto accident. Sometimes, these injuries require multiple surgeries, and many victims have permanent injuries.
The pain from an auto accident isn’t just physical, either. Many people who are in a car accident find they deal with deep emotional pain, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression, and more.
If you were in a car accident, it is a good idea to hire an auto accident lawyer from Abrams & Associates, P.C. An attorney can help you in a number of ways. First, a lawyer can help you value your car accident claim.
Too often, people take the first payout that an insurance provider offers in car accident claims, which is often too small to cover property damages, medical bills, and lost wages.
An attorney can talk to you about your situation, determine how the accident affects your life, and help you come up with a fair number that represents the compensation that you deserve. Our team of lawyers has won our clients millions of dollars in the past.
Filing an insurance claim or deciding to take a case to court is often a confusing process, especially if more than one party is at fault. There is a lot of paperwork and there are even more deadlines that you must meet in a car accident lawsuit.
Having an attorney to help you is vital. He or she can answer any questions that you have about your case, ensure that you fill out all forms completely and correctly, and submit paperwork in time for any deadlines.
Attorneys can also review all of your documents very thoroughly. Yours will look at the official crash reports, your medical records, statements from eyewitnesses, and photos to help create your case.
Attorneys are also adept at negotiating with insurance companies. Insurance agencies will use everything in their power to give you the lowest payout possible after a car accident. Your attorney can help you negotiate your compensation package and make it clear that court filings may happen if you don’t receive proper compensation.
Beyond that, if your case does go to court, attorneys can provide a wide range of services that may help you to win your case. They are adept at performing proper crash investigations. In addition to collecting evidence, such as video surveillance cameras or witness testimonies, attorneys can work together with expert witnesses.
These witnesses can recreate the crash to prove who was at fault, testify about the extent of your injuries and how they affect your quality of life, and more.
There are a number of types of compensation that you may be eligible to receive after a car accident. The two most common types are money to cover damages to your vehicle and money to cover medical costs.
Fixing or replacing a car costs thousands of dollars, and if you received injuries because of the accident, you could quickly see your medical bills costing just as much.
Two other types of compensation that you may be eligible for include money to cover lost wages and money to cover pain and suffering. Did the car accident cause such severe injuries that you took weeks, months, or even longer off of work?
Bills pile up fast when you lose income, and lost wages compensation can help you get back on track. Many people also receive money for pain and suffering related to the loss of quality of life after an accident.
Compensation can cover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses and lost income but it goes beyond that as well.
Your attorney may request compensation for any home modifications you must complete, domestic services such as cleaning you can no longer do, in-home care, prosthetics, wheelchairs or other mobility equipment, and physical therapy.
There are several non-economic damages that compensation may cover as well. Pain and suffering are common, but they can go into more detail as well. These damages include anxiety, PTSD, or other types of emotional stress.
Damages for disfigurement, physical scarring, or cognitive dysfunction fall into this category as well, as does vehophobia (the fear of driving). If someone you love received an injury, you may also qualify for compensation for loss of companionship or consortium (intimacy).
Perhaps someone that you love passed away due to the accident. You may also have a case for a wrongful death lawsuit, which can provide compensation for pain and suffering due to the loss of their support.
The state of New York has a statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits, which means that you only have a specific amount of time to file in court if you plan to do so. If you are filing a lawsuit for personal injuries, lost wages, or pain and suffering, you have up to three years after the accident to do so.
However, if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you must do so within two years of the car accident.
While three and two years are common, respectively, there are circumstances that may make your time shorter or longer. For example, if your accident was with a government vehicle, you typically have a smaller window to file a claim.
On the other hand, if you can prove a valid reason for not filing a lawsuit within the proper window, you may receive additional time to do so.
You can file a suit to receive compensation for your injuries even if you are mostly at fault in a New York City car accident. This is because New York is a “pure comparative fault” state.
However, if you receive compensation for your injuries, you’ll receive a reduced amount based on what percentage of the accident was your fault. Imagine the accident was half your fault and half someone else’s. This means you’ll only receive 50% of the awarded damages.
Insurance companies know that if they find ways to pin an accident on you, they’ll pay you less money. This is why it’s so important to have NYC car accident attorneys on your side. They can help you look through all of the insurance agency’s tactics and prove your case in court if necessary.
The vast majority of motor vehicle accident cases are settled out of court, but it’s still important to understand the court process in case you do end up in front of the judge. Once you file a case, it may settle before actually ending up in the courtroom. However, if you cannot come to an agreement with the insurance company, the court procedure begins.
A jury is responsible for deciding on the key issues of your case. Potential jurors must answer questions from the lawyers on either side of the case. These questions give the lawyers an idea of who each juror is and how they may vote on the case based on any prejudices or biases.
After jury selection, each side will provide its opening statements. Typically, the plaintiff’s attorney speaks first, since he or she has the burden of proof. The opening statement is important for providing facts and appealing to the jury.
The plaintiff presents evidence first in a car accident case due to having the burden of proof. The plaintiff may need to testify regarding how the accident occurred and what he or she observed during the accident.
If there were witnesses, the plaintiff’s lawyer may call them to the stand or read their testimonies. Expert witnesses who recreated the car accident or speak on medical issues may also have to take the stand.
The defendant’s lawyer presents evidence in much the same way. He or she will call witnesses to testify on the defendant’s behalf, such as somebody who saw the accident and feels it happened differently than the plaintiff described.
After both sides present evidence, each attorney gives a closing argument. The argument should mention everything the jury saw in evidence and how it affects the case.
After hearing the closing arguments, the jury has time to deliberate on the case. Deliberations are always confidential. While there is no time limit, most juries for car accident cases come to a decision within a few hours.
When the jury makes its decision, the judge brings the group back into the courtroom to read it. The verdict becomes an official court record. If the plaintiff is receiving compensation, the judge will decide how much and how soon the defendant must pay it. Typically, the defendant must pay within 30 days.
Choosing an auto accident lawyer is a process that you shouldn’t take lightly. Finding the right attorney is vital if you hope for a good outcome for your case. Above all else, look for a lawyer that has experience with your type of case.
If you hire a personal injury lawyer who dabbles in all types of injuries, he or she may not have the experience necessary for a serious car accident case. Instead, focus on attorneys who spend most (if not all) of their time on car accident cases. This way, you can be sure your attorney has the knowledge necessary to present your case with authority.
Strong communication is also important. The right lawyer will communicate with you often via phone or email and always be willing to answer your questions. He or she will provide clear information about how much you’ll pay for the services, what your case may be worth, and how you will proceed with negotiations.
An experienced car accident lawyer will avoid making promises and be realistic about your case, alerting you to any problems that may arise and helping you to find ways to circumnavigate those problems. If you don’t feel your lawyer is engaged and communicative during the initial consultation, keep looking, as you’ll likely continue to have communication problems.
Consider whether the attorney is organized as well.
When you arrive for your consultation:
Remember, a disorganized attorney during a consultation will likely be disorganized during a trial as well.
Finally, be sure that the attorney you choose is willing to provide you with references. A good lawyer will be able to give you references in the form of former clients who were satisfied with the work done.
An attorney that skirts around giving you references may have a poor track record that he or she is trying to hide. Abrams & Associates, P.C. is always happy to talk with our clients and to provide references for your peace of mind.
Many people avoid hiring a car accident law firm because they worry they can’t afford it. The reality is that many law firms work on the contingency of winning the case.
This means that you don’t have to pay anything until your case is complete and you’ve received your compensation.
The way it works is quite simple. The defendant sends the money to your attorney. The attorney then takes his or her percentage, which is usually at a third.
Then, the lawyer will transfer the rest of the money to your account. For example, if you receive a settlement of $600,000, the attorney will take $180,000 and send you $420,000.
Many lawyers don’t charge anything if they don’t win your case but some will charge small fees. Ask your prospective attorney to be sure you avoid any surprises.
Were you in a car accident in New York City? Are you having trouble getting the compensation you deserve for property damages, medical bills, and lost wages?
Don’t let yourself fall victim to insurance company schemes. Talk to the car accident lawyers from Abrams & Associates, P.C. instead.
We look forward to helping you get the compensation you deserve.