Personal injury claims in New York generally begin by submitting a claim to insurance.
Liability insurance compensates victims when the insured causes an injury that results in damages.
The laws in New York do not require you to hire a personal injury lawyer to file an insurance claim after an accident or injury. However, that does not mean that you do not need legal advice.
You could benefit from having an advocate on your side who is looking out for your best interest. The insurance company has attorneys, claims adjusters, and other professionals looking out for its best interests.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Submitting a Claim to Insurance
If you are unsure whether you need to hire a personal injury attorney to handle your insurance claim, consider these questions:
Has the Insurance Company Denied Your Claim?
An insurance company may give you one or more reasons for denying your claim. It might state that the insurance policy does not cover your injuries or the accident. The reason for denying the claim could be valid, or it could be an attempt to avoid paying the claim.
An attorney reviews the insurance policy to determine the coverage and whether it applies to your case. He investigates the accident to gather evidence proving that the other party caused the accident.
An attorney may have an easier time gaining access to information and evidence. He has resources that you might not have available. He also has experience handling claims, so he knows what evidence to search for and where to find it.
For example, an attorney investigating a truck accident may request the logbooks and the data from the trucks’ black box to analyze. He may also demand information about the truck’s maintenance history and the driver’s record.
Most accident victims do not have the resources, skills, or time to search for evidence. Without evidence to prove that the insurance company is liable for their injury claim, they could be denied the money they deserve.
Are You Being Blamed for Causing the Accident?
An insurance company might try to blame you for the cause of the accident. Under New York’s contributory negligence laws, your compensation is reduced if you are partially at fault for the cause of the accident. The insurance company might try to avoid paying your claim’s full value by shifting the blame for the accident to you.
Therefore, your actions contributed to the cause of the crash.
If a jury believes the argument, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the collision.
Lawyers understand this tactic and how to fight back. Your attorney searches for evidence to prove that the other party was entirely responsible for the cause of your injury. Proving fault is essential if you want to receive maximum compensation for your insurance claim.
How Serious Are Your Accident Injuries?
Catastrophic injuries increase the complexity of a personal injury claim. Not only are your medical bills, loss of income, and other damages more significant, you may sustain a permanent impairment or disability because of the accident. Examples of severe injuries that might result in lifelong impairments include spinal cord injuries, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, fractures, and organ damage.
You may need medical experts, economists, and other professionals to provide evidence establishing the extent of your injuries and damages. The evidence is used to argue for maximum compensation of present and future damages, such as long-term personal care, losses in earning capacity, and ongoing medical care.
Who Caused Your Accident?
The parties involved in your accident can also complicate the case. If multiple parties could be liable for your personal injury claim, an attorney can analyze the claim to determine each party’s liability. Insurance companies may argue about liability, which could hurt your chance of recovering fair compensation if you do not have someone watching out for your best interest.
If your case involves a government entity, you need an attorney who understands the special laws governing injury claims against the government. There are short deadlines for filing claims and procedures that must be followed, or you could lose your right to file a lawsuit against the government.
You should also consider the party you are fighting against when considering whether to hire a lawyer.
For example, suppose your injury was caused by a defective product, medical malpractice, or construction accident. In that case, your battle may be against a large corporation that has endless resources to fight your claim.
An attorney evens the playing field and gives you the resources necessary to fight for fair compensation.
Is The Insurance Company Refusing to Respond to Your Claim or Pay Your Claim?
If an insurance company refuses to investigate or respond to your claim, it could be acting in bad faith. Bad faith insurance practices could result in an additional claim against the insurance company for damages separate and apart from your personal injury claim.
An insurance company might delay processing a claim or paying a claim for several reasons. One potential reason is the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations restricts the time a person has to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the deadline passes, the person loses the right to pursue legal action through the courts against the party who caused their injury.
Another reason the insurance company might delay paying your claim is that it wants to wear you down so that you accept a lower settlement offer. By delaying your claim, the insurance company understands that you might sustain additional financial hardships. It is a calculated effort to avoid paying liability for a valid insurance claim.
A personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit seeking damages to force the insurance company to respond to your injury claim. In some cases, the fact that you hire a lawyer is sufficient incentive for the insurance company to pay attention to the claim and negotiate in good faith to settle the claim.
Did the Insurance Company Offer a Low Amount and Refuse to Negotiate?
The first settlement offer is generally much lower than the value of your personal injury claim. If the other party is entirely at fault for the cause of your injury, you should be entitled to full compensation for your damages. The insurance company expects you to make a counteroffer.
However, some insurance companies may refuse to negotiate. They may use strong-arm tactics with an accident victim to pressure the victim to accept the initial settlement offer.
If you are unsure how much your personal injury claim is worth, you should talk with a lawyer before accepting the offer. Once you accept the insurance company’s settlement offer and sign a settlement agreement, your claim is closed.
Settlement agreements are binding legal documents. You cannot demand more money or file a personal injury lawsuit.
Even if you discover more damages or injuries, the agreement releases all parties and all claims related to your accident and injury. If you have any doubts about your claim’s value, it is in your best interest to talk with a lawyer before signing any documents.
Call Our New York City Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If another party’s negligence or wrongdoing caused your injury, you can get help filing a personal injury claim. Our New York personal injury attorneys offer free case reviews. You can get the legal advice you need about insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits to make the best decision for your situation.