Every successful personal injury claim must have two basic components. First, there must be liability, which means that someone else must be legally responsible for the accident. Secondly, there must be damages in the form of a provable type of loss. If either of these elements is missing, there can be no financial recovery. To recover under New York law on a personal injury claim, the claimant must have suffered an injury that passes the so-called “threshold” test. There must be a “serious injury” as defined in Section 5102(d) of the New York Insurance Law, which sets out the following nine categories:
3. significant disfigurement;
4. a fracture;
5. loss of a fetus;
6. permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system;
7. permanent consequential limitation of use of a body function or system;
8. significant limitation of use of a body function or system; and
9. a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature that prevents the person from performing substantially all of the material acts that constitute his or her usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
Unless a person suffers injury that falls within at least one of these categories, there can be no recovery under New York law.
Most personal injury cases are based upon the last category mentioned above. Herniated and bulging discs are examples of injuries that commonly fall within that category.
If you are injured, be sure to seek medical attention immediately following the accident. Failure to seek medical attention and follow through with all recommended therapy will jeopardize your case.
It is not in the interest of the no fault insurance company to pay for medical bills that last for as long as three months. Usually after one month of medical therapy, or even sooner in some cases, the no fault insurance company will arrange for a so-called Independent Medical Examination (IME). You and your attorney, if you have retained one, will receive a letter giving notice of the date, time and place of the medical examination.
You may adjourn or postpone the examination the first time to extend the current medical therapy for several more weeks. You should not, however, miss the rescheduled examination, as medical benefits may be denied starting from the first day of medical therapy.
An IME is not a truly independent examination, because it is performed by doctors who are paid by the insurance company that arranged for the examination. As a result, it is all too common that the doctor will ask questions during the examination about your background or about the accident that have nothing to do with your injuries, the answers to which can be prejudicial to your claim.
In most cases, after conducting the IME, the doctors will advise the no fault insurance company, which is paying the medical bills, that you do not need to continue any therapy or other treatment. Based upon this medical evaluation, the insurance company will cut off medical benefits.
If you continue therapy after the denial of medical benefits, you will be personally responsible for the costs of that therapy. For this reason, it is wise to ask the medical office if it has received a denial letter from the insurance company. If you still need therapy, but the benefits have been denied, you may be able to use your health insurance or have the medical provider place a lien on your file. A lien will guarantee that the medical office will be paid from any money recovered on your claim. Even after further coverage is denied, you should continue to submit all medical bills to the no-fault insurance company.
What to Do If You Are Involved in an Auto Accident
If you are in an accident, you must stop and exchange information with the involved drivers.. If a parked vehicle or other property is damaged, or if a domestic animal is injured, you must locate the owner or contact the police.
If the property damage of any person is $1,001 or more, all the involved drivers must file form MV-104 with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days after the accident. The DMV can suspend your driver license if you fail to report an accident.
If a person is injured or killed, immediately notify the police. All the involved drivers and the police must file an accident report with the DMV. It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident that causes personal injury or death.
At the scene of an accident, if you are physically able, you should write down as much of the following information as possible:
- Name, address, date of birth, and driver’s license number of every driver
- Name, address and telephone number of every passenger and witness
- Name of each of the insurance companies and the number of each insurance policy
- License plate number of each vehicle
- Make and model of each vehicle
- Location of the accident by street and by landmarks
- Number of the New York City police precinct responding to the scene
- If outside of New York City, the name of the responding police department
- Tow trucker company’s name, address, and phone number.
- Tow truck driver’s name, address and driver’s license number.
Although drivers may not always have all the information handy, the law requires them to carry it in the form of a driver’s license, automobile registration, and insurance card.
- If you are injured, go to the nearest hospital emergency room for treatment. If an ambulance arrives on the scene, go to the hospital in the ambulance. Often injuries are not immediately apparent. Likewise, if you experience any pain after you have left the scene of the accident, immediately go to a hospital emergency room or to your own physician.
- Obtain a copy of the police report within 30 days of the accident. If you wait longer, the police department will no longer have the accident report. After 30 days, the accident report is sent to Albany, after which getting a copy of the report will take longer.
- Do not make any statements to anyone other than the police.
- As soon as possible, hire a lawyer that you trust to represent you. Beware of tow-truck drivers, hospital staff, or others who suggest a lawyer to you. This is unethical and may not be in your best interest.
- You must file an application for benefits within 30 days of the accident; otherwise you will be denied No-Fault benefits. You may request the “No-Fault forms” from your insurance company or ask us to do that on your behalf.
New York’s No-Fault Law
Anyone hurt in a motor vehicle accident in New York State has specific rights and obligations, all determined by the state’s insurance law. The relevant section is known by a phrase you may have heard: “No-Fault Insurance” or, simply, “No-Fault.” No-Fault means what is says: No matter who was at fault, each injured person is entitled to specific benefits with a few exceptions.
These benefits include payment of medical expenses, including ambulance fees, transportation expenses to medical appointments up to a limit of $25 per day, hospital charges, and the services of private doctors. No-Fault benefits also include reimbursement for lost earnings up to a maximum of $2,000 per month while the disability continues. However, the most that will be paid in No-Fault benefits for such expenses arising out of a single accident is $50,000 per person.
No-Fault covers most, but not all situations. In general, No-Fault will cover anyone who is injured in a car, bus, or truck accident. Exceptions to No-Fault coverage include injuries or costs suffered as the result of an incident intentionally caused by the injured person, or as the result of an accident caused by the injured person’s use of alcohol or drugs, or if the injured person was operating or was a passenger on a motorcycle, or if the injured person or his or her spouse was driving an uninsured vehicle.
A No-Fault claim is presented to the insurance company of the vehicle which the injured person was driving, in which the injured person was a passenger, or, if the injured person was a pedestrian, the vehicle that struck the pedestrian. A pedestrian that is struck by an uninsured vehicle may receive No-Fault benefits from his or her own car insurance company if the person owns an insured vehicle or, if not, then from the insurance company that insures any vehicle owned by a person living in the injured person’s household. Even when there is no available insurance to benefit a person injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident in New York State, such a person may still obtain No-Fault benefits by applying to a state agency known as the Motor Vehicles Accident Indemnification Corporation or MVAIC.
It is most important to remember that an application for No-Fault benefits must be submitted within 30 days of the occurrence of the accident or all such benefits will be barred. The application should be submitted within that time even if treatment is ongoing and not all medical and other costs are yet known. You may request the “No-Fault forms” from your insurance company or allow us to do that for you. We will complete the necessary forms and make sure that you receive all of the No-Fault benefits to which you are entitled.
York State requires every motor vehicle registered in the state to carry personal-injury liability insurance with a coverage amount of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. In addition, the minimum amount of property damage coverage that a person must carry is $10,000. These are not large amounts in view of costs today. If you were so unfortunate as to be seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver who was carrying only these minimum amounts of insurance coverage, the most you could receive for your personal injuries would be only $25,000. In addition, too many vehicles on our roads carry no insurance at all.
As both a practical and legal matter, it is next to impossible to recover from most negligent operators more than they carry in insurance coverage. Therefore, anyone who is injured by the negligent driver of a car, bus, truck, or motorcycle in New York is often forced to accept a total of only $25,000 in insurance benefits, regardless of the seriousness of the loss.
True, some drivers or owners do carry liability coverage in excess of these minimum amounts. For the victim of an accident, however, the amount of compensation available is largely a matter of chance.
Fortunately, there is a solution. To protect ourselves and our loved ones in the event of serious injury, we can ensure that there will be sufficient insurance coverage by buying supplementary uninsured and underinsured coverage. This additional coverage is available on any auto insurance policy in which the liability limits are high than the $25,000/$50,000 minimum. Under New York law, every insurance company must offer this type of insurance with up to at least $100,000 per person and a total of $300,000 per accident. Since the law does not permit you to insure yourself in amounts higher than you provide for others on the road, you must provide as much coverage for others as you have in uninsured and underinsured coverage for yourself. The cost in additional premiums for this coverage, however, is a small percentage of your total insurance premium.
For your own benefit, review the “declarations sheet” of your insurance policy today to find out how much coverage you have. If you have more than $25,000 in liability coverage, but do not have uninsured and underinsured coverage, call your insurance company and order this insurance. If you have only the minimum required coverage limits, ask your agent about increasing your limits and adding the uninsured/underinsured coverage to your insurance. Even if you already have more than the minimum coverage limits, consider increasing your coverage. With the current cost of medical care and the increased risk of injury on the road, the added expense will be outweighed by the comfort of knowing that you will have the money that you will likely need to recover from a serious accident. Don’t delay, make the call today.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much do you charge for your services?
We accept personal injury matters, such as auto accidents and slip and fall cases, on a contingency basis. This means that you will not have to pay a legal fee unless we recover money for you. If we obtain a settlement for you without commencing a legal action, our legal fee will be 25% of the amount of the settlement. If we commence a legal action on your behalf, our legal fee will be 33% of the money obtained for you. In handling a personal injury matter, expenses will be incurred. Our law firm will pay those expenses, although we will be reimbursed at the conclusion of the case out of the settlement proceeds in addition to our fee. If you check with other law firms, you will find that our legal fees are very competitive.
2. Do you think I have a good case, and, if so, what’s it worth?
To have a good case, you need the following elements: an accident that was caused in whole or in part by the negligence of another party; a resulting injury; and the legal action against the negligent party must be brought within the time allowed by law. How much the case is worth depends upon many variables, including, but not limited to: whether the negligent party was entirely or only partially at fault; whether you bear any responsibility for the occurrence of the accident; the nature of your injury; and whether the negligent party has enough assets or insurance to provide the funds needed to settle or pay a judgment in your favor. No attorney can tell you exactly what a case is worth on your first visit. Even if you have all of the necessary elements, if the matter cannot be settled and has to go to trial, the outcome is always uncertain due to the variables of the judge and jury system. What we can promise is that, if we accept your case, we will do our best to get you the most for your injury.
3. How long will it take to resolve my case? The resolution of your case will depend upon several factors, such as the nature of your injury, how long you need medical treatment, and whether the negligent party or his insurance company is willing to settle. A case in which liability and damages are largely uncontested may be resolved in a matter of a few months. A complex case with a serious injury may take several years to resolve. Most matters fall within these two extremes. Whatever your situation, you may rest assured that, if we represent you, your case will be pressed toward a favorable conclusion as soon as possible.
4. What is going to be expected of me?
We expect you to be honest and cooperative. You must keep all of your doctor appointments and receive all medical treatments. You may be required to attend at least one deposition and to undergo examination(s) by medical professionals chosen by the No-Fault insurance company and or by the defense attorney. If your case goes to trial, your cooperation and testimony will be essential. We will keep you informed about your case. We will prepare you for your deposition and trial if they occur, so that you will understand the process and know what to expect. You will understand the procedures and feel confident when you testify. We understand that a legal action can be a time-consuming and difficult process. We make every effort to respect your needs while vigorously and aggressively advancing your case.
Info By : http://www.aaalawyer.com/newyorkaccidentlawyer.htm