If you or a member of your family suffered an injury in a car accident there are two important things you need to be aware of:
- You are entitled to receive No Fault benefits.
- You may have the right to sue to recover for your pain and suffering.
No Fault benefits: You are entitled to receive these benefits whether the accident was your fault or the other driver’s fault. That is why it is called “No Fault”. These benefits will pay for the ambulance if one was called, the Hospital bill if you went to the emergency room or were admitted to the hospital, for your doctor visits, medication, diagnostic testing and physical therapy as well as some of your lost wages.
However, you MUST send in your claim form to the insurance company for your No Fault benefits within thirty days (30) days of the accident or you may lose your benefits. For more information on No Fault benefits see the article by Abraham Jaros entitled “Automobile No Fault Law in New York”.
Suing for pain and suffering: To sue and receive compensation for your pain and suffering “fault” or what lawyers call “liability” must be established and you must also have suffered what the law defines as a “serious physical injury”.
For example, if you were a pedestrian struck by a car, was the accident the car’s fault? Were you crossing with the light? Were you crossing at the crosswalk? Was it a child who ran into the street between two (2) cars?
If the accident involves two (2) vehicles, whose fault was the collision? Which car had the right of way? What color was the light?
Since there are many types of car accidents and too many different possibilities as to how accidents can occur to discuss them all in this article the important point to remember is that you can only be compensated if you can prove that the other vehicle was entirely or at least partially at fault for the accident.
In New York even if the Court or jury finds that the accident was partially your fault then fault would be allocated on a percentage basis and you are still entitled to be compensated for your injuries based on that percentage that was not your fault. It is not all or nothing.
After the issue of “liability” is decided then you need to be aware that in New York before you can sue to be compensated for your pain and suffering you must also have suffered what is called a “serious physical injury” as that term is defined by the law of NY. This law was passed in an effort to eliminate what are called “whiplash” cases with relatively minor injuries.
Other issues you should be aware of are:
There are different rules that apply to drivers and passengers as to who can be sued to recover for their injuries since the passenger cannot be considered to be at fault for the accident and can sue both cars involved.
There are also times that an injured spouse can sue the other spouse if your insurance provides that type of coverage.
What insurance coverage will there be in your case to pay for your injuries? How many insurance policies are there? Do you have Underinsurance? Is there an Umbrella policy?
Because even a simple car accident can raise so many issues it is important to hire an attorney as quickly as possible. The reason it is important to act quickly is that in today’s world often there are videos that filmed the accident that may be helpful to your case. Witnesses need to be identified and interviewed. The accident scene needs to be inspected and skid marks photographed. The cars may need to be inspected and photographed to document their damage. Police reports need to be obtained. Unfortunately, videos get erased and witnesses may be hard to find. The sooner an investigation is begun the more likelihood it will be to be helpful. If the accident is serious enough accident reconstruction experts may also need to be hired to explain whose fault the accident was based on the physical evidence.
Now you can see why it is important to hire a personal injury attorney with the experience you need to handle your case and to prove “liability”.
You need an attorney who can obtain your past and present medical records and hire the right doctors and experts to come to Court to testify for you and explain your injury to the jury if your case goes to trial. Medical reports need to be obtained that explain your injuries and also what the future holds for you: What will your health be like in the future as a result of your injury and what medical care will you need for the rest of your life?
If you will be unable to work in the future as a result of the injury then an economist may need to come to Court to explain your past as well as future projected loss of earnings.
At Jaroslawicz & Jaros, we have more than 40 years of experience helping car accident victims in New York recover compensation for their past and future medical bills, lost wages, as well as their pain and suffering. The clients we represent benefit from the personal attention of our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys.
If you or a loved one were injured and are in need of legal assistance, call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 212-227-2780, or toll free in New York 1-800-269-2780, or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call to ensure that you do not waive your right to compensation. Or you can email us at [email protected].
By Abraham Jaros
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