Craig Rosenbaum | March 15, 2022 | Car Accidents
If you are involved in a car accident in Manhattan, even if you are not at fault, you may be sued. In this blog post, we will discuss what happens if you are sued and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
If you are sued after causing a collision in Manhattan, try to remain calm. The lawsuit is not a judgment. Rather, the party suing you must prove you were at fault for the cause of the accident to obtain a judgment.
First, contact your liability car insurance carrier. All drivers in New York must have liability car insurance. The liability insurance requirements are:
- $25,000 bodily injury for one person ($50,000 per accident)
- $50,000 for the death of one person ($100,000 per accident)
- $10,000 in property damage coverage per accident
Most insurance policies require the company to hire an attorney to defend the lawsuit. You have the right to talk with an attorney of your choosing at your expense. Regardless, it is wise to seek legal counsel to discuss your personal liability and the potential outcomes of a car accident lawsuit.
What Happens During a Car Accident Lawsuit?
The attorney that defends the lawsuit meets with you to discuss the details of the accident. The lawyer drafts and files a response to the lawsuit. Then the parties begin the discovery phase.
You may be required to submit to a deposition. A deposition is sworn testimony taken outside of court. The other party’s attorney asks you questions about the accident. A court reporter records the deposition and transcribes it for the parties.
After the parties complete discovery, they may enter settlement negotiations or mediation. Many lawsuits settle during this phase of the case. If not, the lawsuit proceeds to conference hearings and pre-trial motions.
At trial, both sides present their evidence to the jury. The jury enters a verdict. If the verdict is in favor of the plaintiff, the jury awards an amount for damages. If the damages exceed your liability insurance policy limits, you are personally liable for that amount.
For that reason, it can be wise to carry the maximum insurance limits you can afford. Again, it is wise to seek legal advice from an attorney other than the lawyer hired by the insurance company. You need to understand your legal rights and options from a lawyer who has only your best interest in mind.
Are There Defenses to a Car Accident Lawsuit?
When you are sued after causing a collision in Manhattan, there could be one or more defenses to the lawsuit. A common defense used in many car accident cases is contributory fault.
Under New York’s contributory negligence law, if the person suing you is partially to blame for the cause of the accident, the damages can be reduced by their percentage of fault. In other words, they are not entitled to full compensation for all damages because they contributed to the cause of the crash.
For example, suppose the jury finds that the other person was 30 percent at fault for the collision. They award the person $100,000 for damages. The most the person can receive is $70,000 ($100,000 less 30 percent).
How Long Does Someone Have to Sue Me for a Car Accident in New York?
New York’s statute of limitations for most car accident lawsuits is three years from the accident date. If the deadline has passed, the attorney files a motion to dismiss. The court dismisses the lawsuit unless there is an exception to the statute of limitations.
There are only a few exceptions to the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits. The attorney for the insurance company reviews the deadlines soon after receiving the lawsuit.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Never admit fault for causing the car crash, even if you believe you are at fault. Instead, talk with a lawyer immediately to learn about your legal rights and potential liability.
If possible, take photographs of the accident scene and make a video with your cell phone. Some accident victims might cause more damage to their vehicle after the accident to increase the value of an accident claim. Also, ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information.
The attorney should search for video of the collision from traffic cameras and nearby surveillance cameras. Video of the collision can help prove contributory negligence allegations.
Until you talk to a lawyer, avoid speaking with insurance adjusters or insurance investigators. The statements you make after the accident could be used to prove fault. Therefore, it is always in your best interest to have legal counsel before answering questions or making statements.