Attorneys Answer: When Do You Need To Hire an NYC Car Accident Lawyer?
Over 15,000 car accidents occur every day somewhere in the United States. Thousands result in injuries, many of which are serious. If you have suffered a serious injury in a New York City car accident, you would probably benefit by hiring a personal injury lawyer.
What a New York City Car Accident Lawyer Can Do For You
Car accident lawyers undertake many different duties, including:
- Holding an initial consultation with you to ask questions about your case;
- Performing a preliminary investigation of your claim;
- Advising you to avoid pitfalls that could damage your claim;
- Gathering admissible evidence, such as eyewitness testimony;
- Retaining expert witnesses to help prove your case;
- Drafting and submitting a demand letter to the defendant or their insurance company;
- Negotiating your claim with the other side;
- Filing a lawsuit by submitting a complaint;
- Undergoing the pretrial discovery procedure;
- Responding to discovery requests initiated by the other side;
- Drafting a settlement agreement;
- Representing you at mediation;
- Representing you at trial; and
- Appealing an adverse decision.
NYC car accident lawyers perform many other functions as well.
When You Might Need an NYC Accident Attorney
It may be possible to handle small and simple car accident claims on your own. However, if your case involves any of the following red flags, it may be time to call a lawyer.
The Accident Was Caused by a Defective Auto Part
If your accident was caused by a defective auto part, you likely have a product liability claim. You might also have a product liability claim if a defective airbag worsened your injuries (even if it didn’t cause them). Product liability claims tend to be technically complex, and many call for an expert witness’s assistance.
Paying Your Damages Will Cost More Than the Defendant’s Insurance Resources
New York requires its drivers to purchase more auto insurance than most states. Still, it is not uncommon for a car accident victim to suffer losses far exceeding the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage limits. In that case, you might need to find a second defendant you can hold liable. That is where a lawyer can help. Possible second defendants include:
- The at-fault driver’s employer;
- An alcohol vendor who provided alcohol to the at-fault driver before the accident; or
- The at-fault driver’s parents (if the driver is a minor).
Your lawyer can work to identify additional liable parties as well if there are any.
The Insurance Company Is Giving You Trouble
Insurance adjusters are expert negotiators and have many ways of reducing the apparent value of your claim. However, most of them won’t dare try any of their tricks on an experienced car accident lawyer because these lawyers have heard it all before. In a worst-case scenario, you can ask your lawyer to help you sue the insurance company for insurance bad faith, which would be a second lawsuit.
You Will Need Continuing Medical Treatment Far Into the Future
If your injuries are permanent, you might continue to need medical treatment for the indefinite future. It is crucial that you accurately calculate how much money you are going to need in the future. Once you receive a settlement or judgment, there is no turning back—you can’t come back to ask for more money if you run out 10 years from now, for example.
An experienced car accident lawyer should be able to find you an effective expert witness who can calculate and prove the amount of money you will need.
The Defendant or the Insurance Company Is Blaming You for the Accident
New York applies a “pure comparative fault” system where the court assigns a percentage of fault to each party. You will lose the percentage of your damages that equals your assigned percentage of fault. Even if you were only 1% at fault, you will lose 1% of your damages. If you were 99% at fault, you will lose 99% of your damages. For this reason, the defendant is sure to try to pin at least part of the blame on you.
You Are Suing Your Healthcare Provider
Medical malpractice lawsuits tend to be scientifically complex, and the use of expert witnesses is routine. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have working relationships with reputable and persuasive expert witnesses. They will also know how to distill complex points into simple, easy-to-understand language.
To discourage frivolous lawsuits, New York has erected an additional obstacle to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit—the Certificate of Merit. A personal injury lawyer should know how to prepare an effective Certificate of Merit.
You Are Filing a Claim Against the Government
The New York Court Claims Act outlines the procedure for filing a personal injury lawsuit against the New York state government or one of its subdivisions (such as a municipal government).
Meanwhile, the Federal Tort Claims Act governs personal injury claims against the federal government. Either way, you will have to deal with shorter deadlines and special procedures that do not apply to ordinary personal injury claims.
You Are Suffering Significant Physical Pain
New York offers compensation for the physical pain and suffering arising from your accident. Even though this element of your damages is intangible, pain and suffering damages often amount to more than all other elements of compensation combined.
To receive large pain and suffering damages, however, especially at the settlement table, you are going to have to be knowledgeable and persuasive.
The Defendant Holds Most of the Evidence
In many cases, the defendant is in possession of most of the relevant evidence. Naturally, the defendant will not be inclined to provide you with evidence that will be used against them later.
There is one way to force the defendant to “cough it up,” however — file a lawsuit, enter the pretrial discovery procedure, demand the evidence, and seek a court order if the defendant refuses to cooperate. Filing a lawsuit is a job for an attorney.
You Need To Draft or Review a Settlement Agreement
As a practical matter, a settlement must be in writing before you can enforce it. A settlement agreement must be drafted with utmost care and skill. If the other side drafted it, you will need a lawyer’s eyes to look over it carefully before you sign it.
Someone Died in the Accident
A deceased accident victim cannot file a lawsuit. In New York, however, the personal representative (executor) of the deceased victim’s probate estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. Generally speaking, you can win a wrongful death claim if the victim could have won a personal injury lawsuit on the same facts.
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit go to the estate to reimburse the estate for funeral and burial expenses. Anything remaining after estate debts have been paid goes to estate beneficiaries, surviving relatives, or a combination of both as the court sees fit.
Schedule a Consultation With a New York City Car Accident Lawyer
Scheduling an initial consultation with an NYC car accident attorney at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum doesn’t have to cost you a dime. Neither are you under any obligation to hire them. An initial consultation can provide insight into your claim’s true value. Call us at (212) 514-5007 or contact us online today.