If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New York, it is important to know what steps to take in order to protect yourself and your loved ones. From the initial impact to the weeks and months following the accident, you need to be able to navigate the process so that you are fairly compensated for any injuries and damages to your vehicle.
In order to do this, it is best to consult with a lawyer in New York City who specializes in accidents and knows how to apply the law to your specific situation. By following these tips below, you will better understand the stages of a car accident lawsuit and how the laws in New York may affect your ability to obtain a favorable judgment.
What to Do at the Scene
The first thing to prepare for is what you should do if you are ever in a car accident in New York. This is where having a plan comes in handy because you will be able to follow a checklist to ensure that you have covered all of your bases and have the information you need for your claim going forward.
After the accident, you will need to document the scene to the best of your ability. This includes taking photos of the damage, noting injuries, and exchanging insurance information with the other party or parties. You will also want to see if there are witnesses around that are willing to give a statement about what happened.
There are two types of reporting requirements for accidents in New York, according to state law. If a person is injured in an accident, the party responsible for the wreck is required to call the police to file an accident report as soon as possible.
If there is only property damage as a result of the accident, you are only obligated to report as soon as possible if the owner of the other vehicle is not present. For all accidents with more than $1,000 in property damage and for those involving personal injury, a written report must also be filed with the DMV within 10 days.
After you’ve called the appropriate authorities and have exchanged insurance information with the other drivers involved, it is time to think about the next steps of your claim. Will you file a claim for vehicle damages with your insurance company or will the other driver be responsible for starting the process?
If you’ve been injured, you will also need to see a doctor as soon as you can and keep all documentation for diagnoses and treatment, which will be essential for your potential legal claim later on.
However, you will need to know when to seek the assistance of a New York accident lawyer. Since you want to be able to get compensated for your injuries, it is best to be represented by a professional who can dedicate his or her time to your case.
Understanding “No Fault” Car Accident Law in NY
Before you can continue on with the process of filing a claim and possibly going to trial to recover expenses related to an accident, you will need to familiarize yourself with some of the laws of New York. New York’s “no-fault” car accident law means that courts do not distinguish between the driver who caused the accident and the driver who followed the law.
The No-Fault law in New York puts limits on when you can and cannot file a lawsuit for physical and property damages, as well as pain and suffering. Instead of placing blame on a particular party for the accident, the law provides that each driver’s insurance company must pay up to $50,000 for damages related to the crash. This is why drivers in New York are required to have $50,000 in no-fault insurance as part of their liability coverage in their policies.
According to the New York Bicycling Coalition, the law was enacted in the 1970s as a way to simplify the legal system for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers that are involved in accidents. Rather than having a long, drawn-out process that can be costly and time-consuming, the no-fault law enables claimants to have peace of mind knowing that they will be fairly compensated after an accident. The trick is knowing how to navigate the process and when to consult with a New York personal injury lawyer so that you can get back to living your life.
Reasons to Contact NY Personal Injury Lawyers
The car accident and personal injury laws in New York remain complex. Even though the no-fault law has made things simpler for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, there is still a time when it makes the most sense to contact a personal injury lawyer. You deserve to know all of your legal options so that you don’t feel like you are rushed into a decision or pressured into making a choice that is not best for you and your family.
Even with the no-fault law, where fault is not determined and insurance companies pay for damages out of the policies of you and the other parties involved, there are still situations where you might have the legal right to sue following a car accident in New York. Since the law will not fault either driver, it can be tricky to know when you can still sue. It is for this reason that contacting a lawyer is helpful because your lawyer will be able to evaluate the circumstances of your case and recommend the best course of action.
In addition to understanding if you have a case that can be brought to the legal justice system, there are also very good reasons to connect with a lawyer before too much time passes. First, your injuries may be much more severe than you realize. You might think that you just have a small scratch and bruises only to later know the extent of internal injuries, which would help you establish your case faster.
Along the same thread, you can’t necessarily estimate your future medical bills related to your injuries, and a lawyer will provide valuable guidance along the way. Your lawyer can also help you decide whether it is best to pursue a legal claim or settle with the other party instead.
Mediate or Litigate? To Settle or Not to Settle?
Before deciding whether or not to mediate as opposed to litigating, it is important to work with your lawyer to establish the facts of your case. Remember, due to the no-fault law in New York, you have the right to sue only if you sustained serious injuries, your medical bills are in excess of $50,000, you are seeking to recover property damage costs, or the other driver engaged in criminal behavior (such as driving under the influence).
With all of the information you have in hand from the accident itself, such as photos of the scene, insurance information, and witnesses, your lawyer can help you progress through the stages of a car accident lawsuit in New York. Follow the directions of your lawyer and be sure to always attend each of your appointments with a doctor if you are being treated for your injuries.
When the time comes for the lawsuit to enter mediation or go to trial, your lawyer will work with you to understand your options and see which choice is best for you and your family long term.
To learn more about filing a claim after a car accident in New York, speak to a lawyer at The Dearie Law Firm by calling (212) 970-6500.