When in a serious car accident, proving who caused the accident is essential for the insurance companies involved. Generally, the at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible for personal injury damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of income at work, among other damages. Even if it is clear to all of the parties involved as to who caused the accident, insurance companies rely on more than just word-of-mouth. Often, they will require substantial evidence backing up your story.
An experienced NYC personal injury and car accident attorney should be able to help analyze your claim and guide a comprehensive strategy for gathering supporting documentation. With the New York City attorneys at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, you are assured years of experience backed with in-depth understanding of New York laws and insurance processes. If you were in a serious car accident caused by the negligence or reckless behavior of another party, you can start your case by consulting with our attorneys, who will review your claim over a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with our lawyers, call our Manhattan law firm today at (212) 777-9400.
Understanding New York Car Insurance Laws and Fault
New York’s automobile no-fault laws date back to the 1970s, and it was enacted to make sure that insurance companies pay for legitimate crash-related medical expenses, lost earnings, and incidental costs, regardless of who was actually at-fault for the accident. New York is one of 12 states in the United States to have no-fault car insurance laws; the benefit of no-fault law is that it speeds up the litigation process and offers claimants quicker payments for expenses. A downside of the no-fault law, however, is that it has some restrictions, such as including clauses for pain and suffering in the lawsuit and settlement amount.
No-fault in New York is also designed to pay drivers up to $50,000 for legitimate economic losses, which includes:
- Ambulance and hospital expenses
- Medical expenses and other bills, such as for diagnostic tests
- Prescription drugs
- Physical therapy
- Long-term care, if necessary
- Lost wages
The no-fault insurance laws do not provide for pain and suffering, and some other incidental damages. However, in cases of severe injury or extreme reckless behavior by the other party, you can pursue such claims. If you qualify, you can pursue a separate lawsuit against the other party for causing the crash and your injury.
Filing for No-Fault and Time Constraints for Filing
Unfortunately, even with the no-fault laws in place to protect injured parties and quicken the claims and benefits processes, there are many hurdles that claimants often need to overcome. For instance, insurance companies are known for being strict when reviewing claims, and insurance companies will deny claims if you miss a filing date or a medical appointment, or if you include incorrect information on a form.
The No-Fault Application in New York is form NF-2, though the application is generally provided by the insurance carrier of the at-fault party. In general, you have about 30 days from the date of the accident to file a claim.
Proving Fault in a Serious Car Accident
Despite New York’s comprehensive no-fault laws, it’s still essential to prove fault in a car accident, especially when the other driver acted negligently or recklessly, which caused your injuries. In many circumstances, proving fault can be easy, but you have to take the proper measures, including:
- Obtaining police reports. Make sure to get the police involved following an accident (however, if you are seriously injured, always focus on getting the proper medical attention first). The police will nonetheless create a report about the accident, and the reports will contain essential information and serve as excellent proof regarding liability. Moreover, the police will report traffic tickets and legal wrongdoing.
- Looking at New York vehicle codes. Similar to obtaining police reports, looking at the New York vehicle code can be an essential source of evidence. With the vehicle code, you can find the laws applicable to your accident, putting you in a much better position for negotiating with your insurance company as well as the other driver’s insurance company. Specifically, the vehicle code can apply to rear-end accidents and left-turn collisions, among others.
- Examining and documenting the evidence. You shouldn’t solely rely on personal recollections. Instead, you can examine and document some of the objective evidence available, such as the damage done to your vehicle. If possible, take some photos of the accident scene. Additionally, if there were any witnesses to the accident, ask them to write down descriptions of the accident as well as their contact information.
To put your evidence into perspective, and to give your case a strong negotiating hand, make sure to also contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney.
Comparative Negligence in New York Car Accidents
Often, there are various factors involved in a car accident, and without a legal expert who can put these factors together and aim them toward your goals (e.g. seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.), you may find difficulties getting the compensation you need and deserve. Fortunately, the car accident lawyers at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier have helped numerous individuals with their car accident claims, and our law office is confident that we can help you too. The first step is to consult a New York accident lawyer to review your claim at no cost to you. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call our NYC personal injury law firm today at (212) 777-9400.