When Do You Need To Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in New York?

After a car accident in New York,  you need to retain a car accident lawyer as soon as possible – even if you are still in the hospital. Because you will be dealing with insurance companies and negligence law, you need legal guidance for accident cases to protect your interests and ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.

Car Accident Injuries

During a car accident, you could sustain anything from minor injuries, such as cuts and scrapes, to catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. The severity of your injuries dictates part of the damages you can recover. But medical expenses aren’t the only damages you may be entitled to.

New York allows those injured in car accidents to recover two types of damages: Economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value. Thus, it is imperative that you save every receipt for any medical expenses you incur, including:

  • Co-payments.
  • The money you paid for a deductible.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses that you pay for because your auto or health insurance did not cover them.
  • Cognitive therapy expenses.
  • Occupational therapy expenses.
  • Psychological therapy expenses.
  • Physical therapy expenses.
  • Updates to your home to make it more accessible, including but not limited to wheelchair ramps, grab bars and widened doorways.
  • Hand controls for your vehicle.
  • Any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications your insurance does not cover.
  • Ambulatory aids.
  • Home health care.
  • Rehabilitative or nursing home care.

Economic damages also include lost wages and loss of future earning capacity; and, if you lost a loved one in a car accident, death-related expenses, including probate attorneys’ fees and costs and funeral-related expenses.

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value. They are more difficult to prove and recover. Additionally, in most cases, you can only recover non-economic damages if accident injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities. While different insurance companies may have their own definition of long-term or permanent disabilities, the Social Security Administration defines them as lasting longer than 12 months or resulting in your death.

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship and/or consortium, and inconvenience. If you suffered an amputation or your injuries caused permanent disfiguration or excessive scarring, you might recover additional compensation.

Because car accidents can cause life-altering injuries and disabilities, you don’t want to take a chance on the insurance company denying your claim or offering you a pittance.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Depending on the defendant’s insurance company, you could have anywhere from a few days to a year or two to file a claim. It’s best to file a car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance as soon as possible, and it’s better to have a New York car accident lawyer file it for you, as insurance companies are sneaky and will do anything to deny a claim or offer you a pittance.

Insurance companies are in business to make money. Every claim they pay out digs into their bottom line, which means less money in the executives’ pockets. Thus, they will try anything to deny a claim or, at the least, pay as little as possible – and that includes twisting what you say so it looks as though you are to blame for the accident.

Other tricks insurance companies use include:

  • Admitting their client was at fault, then telling you they can only pay a certain amount. That amount is usually very low – sometimes not enough to cover medical expenses, never mind other damages. This is hardly ever true.
  • Delaying your claim in the hopes that you miss the statute of limitations or you’ll get frustrated enough to drop it. The insurance companies will either ghost you or put you off by telling you they are waiting for more information from another department.

Insurance companies have more tricks up their sleeves. Our experienced car accident attorneys are used to dealing with insurance companies and their tricks, so it’s harder to get our lawyers to fall into their traps.

New York’s Statute of Limitations

Every state has a statute of limitations for bringing legal claims for negligence, and New York is no exception. The statute of limitations usually starts running at the time you suffer injuries. It gives you a certain amount of time to take legal action against the at-fault driver – that time depends on several factors, including the injured’s age and whether the claim involves a wrongful death.

A New York car accident attorney can tell you how long the statute of limitations is for your specific circumstances. However, you must not forget that the insurance company potentially responsible for your injuries may have a shorter time to file a claim.

Proving Negligence after a Car Accident

Car accident cases are complex negligence cases. In order for you to successfully recover the compensation you deserve, you must be able to prove the at-fault driver was negligent. Your attorney can look at evidence, including but not limited to a police report and witness statements, to help determine whether the driver that hit you was negligent.

To prove negligence, you must prove the following:

  • The defendant had a duty of care to drive in such a manner as to keep you and others on the road safe from harm. Every driver has this duty every time he or she gets behind the wheel of a vehicle.
  • The defendant breached the duty of care. A breach might include speeding, running traffic control signals, driving under the influence, driving while distracted, driving aggressively, or otherwise breaking the law.
  • The defendant’s breach caused your injuries.
  • Your injuries caused financial harm.

While proving negligence might look simple on its face, it’s not always easy. For example, if a perfectly healthy driver with no reason to suspect a medical condition has a heart attack, that is not necessarily negligence.

On the other side of the coin, the driver may not be the only one at fault for your injuries. A driver in another vehicle could have caused the driver to hit you. If the other driver is a commercial driver, others may share responsibility for your injuries. A trucking company, truck inspectors, truck repair technicians, and others may share responsibility for the accident.

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a New York car wreck, contact a car accident lawyer for a free case evaluation and to learn more about your rights.

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