New York City Car Accident FAQ
If you’ve recently been injured in a car accident in New York City, NY, you probably have a million questions running through your head. Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., is here to help you get the answers you need.
Here, our New York City car accident attorneys have addressed a few of the questions we tend to get most often from crash victims who contact us for help.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Crash?
There are two big reasons why you should hire a personal injury lawyer after a motor vehicle accident in NYC.
First, insurance companies don’t want you to. In fact, that’s the last thing they want. Insurers would much rather deal directly with you, not an attorney who understands the process and knows how to win.
Insurers know that their playbook – filled with manipulative scare tactics – will have to go out the window the moment a lawyer gets involved. So, hiring a lawyer levels the playing field and puts you in a position to walk away with the money you deserve.
Second, you need time to get better. You need the time and opportunity to focus on recovering from your physical wounds and the emotional trauma of your accident. That’s difficult ot do when you’re also juggling a confusing and contested injury claim. By hiring a lawyer, you free yourself up to focus on what’s most important – getting back on your feet. While you do that, our lawyers will be tenacious in our pursuit of compensation for you.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case?
The best way to know if you have a legitimate claim for compensation is by discussing the details of your accident with a skilled attorney. That’s why Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. offers a free consultation to all crash victims in NYC. This way, you can learn about the strength of your case and how our law firm might be able to help you navigate the claims process.
When we sit down to discuss your case, we’ll listen closely to your side of the story. We might ask you to repeat things a few times and ask some questions. We’re simply trying to assess what might have happened, who might be involved, and whether you have a strong case for damages.
I Don’t Think My Injuries Are That Bad – Should I Still Go to the Doctor?
Absolutely. While you might not think that your injuries are severe, there might be more going on under the surface than you’re aware of. Internal injuries are very common consequences of car accidents.
By seeking medical care, you can ensure that all of your injuries – internal and external – are diagnosed promptly and treated right away. This can significantly reduce the risk of complications, infections, and even death.
Additionally, by seeking medical treatment shortly after your accident, you can bolster your claim for damages. The medical report that’s generated by your visit can help to establish causation. Causation is an essential element of negligence, which will likely be the foundation of your injury claim. The sooner your injuries are documented, the stronger your case for damages.
How Do I Obtain a Copy of My Traffic Accident Report?
When you get into an accident, it’s important to make sure that it’s reported to the NYPD. An officer will come down to the scene and complete a traffic accident report, which can be helpful down the line if you decide to file an injury claim.
In order to obtain a copy, you can complete a Request for Copy of Collision Record and either mail it to the reporting precinct or drop it off in person. This must be done within 30 days of when the report is filed. Alternatively, you can visit the Collision Report Retrieval Portal online and search for a copy there. Note, it can take up 7 business days for your report to show up in the system after it’s been filed.
What Will the Accident Report Be Used For?
Once you get a copy of the accident report, your attorney can use it as a helpful tool during an independent investigation. These helpful details might be included in the report:
- The names of all parties involved in the accident
- Insurance information
- The precise time, date, and location of the crash
- Weather and traffic conditions, and
- The officer’s preliminary assessment of fault.
All of these details can be lost or forgotten over time. So, it can help when they’re memorialized in an accident report.
What Happens When I Submit an Insurance Claim?
Following an accident, you’ll probably have to submit a claim to your insurance company to recover benefits from your policy.
To start, you’ll have to notify your provider that an accident has occurred. Failing to provide notice can complicate things and can even result in a denied claim.
Notifying your insurer isn’t the same as submitting a claim. That comes next. Once you’ve compiled enough information for your claim – including the extent of and proof of your damages – you’ll submit it with a demand letter.
Once the insurer receives the claim, they are legally obligated to review it within a reasonable amount of time.
Your insurer can either approve the claim in full and issue payment for the full amount you’ve requested, approve the claim in part and issue partial payment, or deny the claim in full. If your claim is denied – in full or in part – you reserve the right to appeal the decision.
If a settlement is offered, you reserve the right to reject and counter. This back and forth can go on for a while. At some point in time, the insurer will issue a final offer. If you accept, your claim is considered to be over and you walk away with the agreed-upon amount. If you reject the offer, you can appeal or move forward with a lawsuit.
Should I Accept an Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer?
Always keep in mind that insurance companies are not on your side. They do not have your best interests at heart. These companies are interested in making as much money as they can. When you ask for benefits, you’re asking them to cut into their profits. So, when an insurer offers a settlement, it’s important to review that offer carefully.
Does it really cover all of your costs? Will the offer be enough to take care of your current damages as well as damages you’ll likely have in the future? If not, you might want to consider rejecting the offer.
Here’s why. While getting cash in your hands now might be really helpful, accepting a lowball settlement might do more harm than good in the long run. When you accept an offer, the provider will almost certainly have you waive any future claims. They’ll ask you to sign away your right to pursue any additional money in the future.
What happens if you accept a low offer and then learn that your injuries are more severe than you thought? You’ll be out of luck if you need additional money to cover the costs.
Let an attorney help you review settlement offers. Better yet, let an attorney handle settlement negotiations.
What Should I Expect When I File a Lawsuit?
Once insurance benefits have been exhausted – your claim has been denied – you might have to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. This might involve at-fault parties and/or insurance companies. Either way, by filing a lawsuit, you’ll formally ask the state to step in and oversee your dispute.
Your case will move forward subject to the substantive personal injury law and procedural rules of New York state. Here’s a brief overview of what that process can look like:
- Conducting a thorough investigation and building a formal legal complaint
- Filing the complaint in civil court before the statute of limitations expires
- Formally serving copies of the complaint on the defendant(s) named in the suit
- Combing through evidence obtained during the discovery phase
- Subpoenaing relevant documents and witnesses
- Conducting depositions
- Preparing for trial and getting ready to argue before a judge and jury.
Note that a private settlement can be reached at any point in time before a jury returns with a verdict. The vast majority of car accident lawsuits settle before a trial is completed.
Personal injury lawsuits are tricky. There are a lot of rules that have to be followed to a “T.” Any mistakes can be costly and potentially stand between you a successful outcome. For that reason, it’s really important to enlist the help of an experienced attorney.
What is Pain and Suffering?
There are many consequences of a car accident that are easy to see. They’re also easy to value in terms of dollars and cents. Pain and suffering isn’t one of them. Pain and suffering refers to the very real physical discomfort and emotional distress that you experience because of your accident and injury. The term is often used as an umbrella that encompasses:
- Mental anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Chronic physical pain.
Pain and suffering are very real. However, these damages are very difficult to value. This is because they’re so intimate to you. They’re so very personal. If you request pain and suffering damages from an insurance provider, they’ll calculate the damages using a multiplier.
Generally, adjusters look at your injury as a whole and assess its impact on your life. Then, they decide on a multiplier between one (for moderate pain and suffering) and five (for extreme pain and suffering). That multiplier is then applied to your economic damages.
If your economic damages equal $50,000 and the adjuster uses a multiplier of 4, your non-economic award for pain and suffering would equal $200,000. Your take-away would be $250,000.
What is Subrogation?
Subrogation refers to the right to step into someone else’s shoes and seek compensation that they’re owed. Insurance companies do this a lot.
Let’s say that you’re involved in a crash in downtown Manhattan. You submit a claim to your insurance provider and request PIP (personal injury protection) benefits from your policy. They pay. You’re not aware of the fact that, under New York state law, your insurer has the right to bring a subrogation action against the person who caused you to get hurt.
In other words, your insurance provider can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and attempt to recover the PIP benefits that were paid to you. Subrogation allows them to seek damages that are technically available to you – not the insurer. The insurer figuratively steps into your shoes and pursues the claim.
Can I Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits If I Was Injured On the Job?
Most employers in New York have to carry a workers’ compensation insurance policy. Workers’ compensation offers no-fault benefits to employees who are injured while carrying out the responsibilities of their job. If your job requires you to drive, workers’ compensation benefits might be available if you happen to get into an accident while you’re on the clock.
Even though claims for workers’ compensation benefits should be easy, they’re usually not. Employers and insurance providers make things way more difficult than they have to be. In order to secure maximum benefits, it’s important to work with a skilled injury lawyer
What Are the Average Costs of a Car Accident?
According to the National Safety Council, these are the average economic costs of different types of crashes (in 2018 dollars):
- Property Damage Only: $4,500
- No Injury Observed: $12,200
- Possible Injury: $22,800
- Evident Injury: $27,800
- Disabling Injury: $96,200
- Fatal: $1,659,000.
These are just median economic costs. So, depending on your injuries, the costs could be much higher, or even much less. However, keep in mind that these figures don’t factor in the non-economic costs of a crash, like pain and suffering. When those damages are considered, the true cost of an accident can be much, much greater.
Let Our New York City Car Accident Lawyers Answer Your Questions During a Free Consultation
Were you recently involved in a car accident in New York City, NY? Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., represents crash victims all across the Big Apple – including those in all five boroughs and on Long Island. Contact our Manhattan law office to arrange a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options
If you decide to file an injury claim and pursue compensation, our NYC personal injury lawyers will be there to help you every step of the way. To get started, all you have to do is connect with our law firm online or give us a call today.