If you have ever been injured in an accident in New York, it is imperative that you gather information about what happens next as quickly as possible.
Injuries you sustain in a car/bus/trucking accident can be shocking and overwhelming. A few days after your accident, you may experience pain and decide to pursue a claim against the negligent party. Dealing with the aftermath may be exhausting and stressful. Accident victims often deal with hospitalization, medical treatments, missed time from work, and lost income, often while trying to manage pain and disability from their injuries.
If you’ve been in a minor car accident where your car was dinged up and you had some bumps and bruises, you can probably handle any resulting insurance claim yourself, if you’re comfortable doing so. But if you’ve suffered significant injuries or the other side is digging in for a fight over issues like fault for the accident, it may be time to discuss your car accident case with an experienced lawyer, especially if there is a lawsuit on the horizon.
What is personal injury law?
Personal injury law involves injury which is caused accidentally, not intentionally, by another’s failure to use reasonable care. This type of law covers situations in which a person’s body, mind, or emotions are hurt, usually due to someone else’s negligence or carelessness. It includes pain and suffering, wrongful death and situations where an injury results in a fatality.
How do liability and negligence relate to an insurance claim?
A person may be liable for the injury due to his/her own negligent or reckless actions in causing the accident. The resulting injury must have been caused by the at-fault party, and must have been a foreseeable result of the at-fault party’s negligent action. So even if someone who commits a negligent action did not intend for you to get injured, that negligent party may still be the defendant in a personal injury claim.
What are the most common types of personal injury claims?
Personal injury lawsuits often arise from automobile, bicycle, pedestrian, boating, aircraft, bus, commercial trucking, and other kinds of motor vehicle accidents. Personal injury claims can also arise from medical malpractice, defective products, and slip-and-fall claims.
Why do people hire injury attorneys?
A successful personal injury claim may recover monetary funds for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, burial costs, and other financial costs that result from the injury. Typically, a personal injury lawyer is hired to oversee the claim, to let an injured person focus on healing without the stress of dealing with the legal side of the accident. Injury lawyers typically offer a no-cost consultation, so there is no downside to speaking with a lawyer about your potential claim.
What To Do After A Car Accident
When a motor vehicle accident occurs it is easy to become disoriented, shaken, and confused. However, in the aftermath of an accident it is important to obtain crucial information. A helpful way to remind yourself what to do after a car accident is to keep a checklist of phone numbers to call and questions to ask along with your insurance information in your glove compartment or center console.
A Few Things To Keep In Mind
If anyone is injured, immediately call the police for help and tell them you need medical assistance. If anyone involved seems to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tell that to the police when you call for help. Always call the police whether or not there are injuries, as many insurance companies will not cover an accident unless there is a police accident report. Once everyone is safe, you can get the other information you will need.
Your insurance company will need full names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and any witnesses. Try to find out if anyone is injured or says he or she is injured; or if anyone says “I am fine”.
Make as many notes as you can about the accident itself
What was the weather and lighting like at the time of the accident? Were any of the involved vehicles damaged? Was any of the damage obviously present prior to the accident, such as non-functioning tail lights or brake lights? Were any of the vehicles company-owned?
- Did anyone take blame for the accident?
- Ask about the other vehicles involved, such as license plate numbers, make, and model.
- Get the names and badge numbers of any police officers who respond to the scene.
Find out the insurance status
Be sure to find out the insurance status of all vehicles and persons involved. If any drivers were not the registered owners, get the registered owner’s name, address, and phone number(s).
If you can get a camera, it is wise to take as many photos as possible of the accident site, the vehicles and people involved, and anything else that might have bearing on how and why the accident occurred. Pictures taken as soon as possible will be the most valuable. If you do not have a camera, you might be able to buy a disposable one at a nearby convenience store, or ask a passenger or bystander to purchase one for you. Don’t forget to take pictures of the damage done to all vehicles, license plates, evidence such as street signs or lights, skid marks, etc. If you have an attorney you plan to call, tell him or her you don’t have a camera. He or she may be able to send someone from his or her office to take the needed photographs. Be sure to also tell your attorney about any other evidence you think might be important, such as faulty street lights or signage, malfunctioning equipment (seat belts, turn signals, etc.), weather conditions, etc.
Contact your own insurance company as quickly as possible. If you feel, for any reason, that your company may not be willing to cover the accident, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney beforehand. However, do not delay in contacting your insurance carrier. Most insurance companies have policy requirements as to how quickly after an accident you must contact them, and failure to do so might mean your claim will be rejected. On the other hand, you should not make any statements or answer any questions from the other driver’s insurance company until you have consulted an attorney. Be polite, but decline to discuss any aspects of the accident until you have obtained legal advice.
Get medical help
If you have been seriously injured, you probably will be taken directly to a hospital emergency room. If you are not seriously injured, however, do not assume that you are uninjured. Many injuries from vehicle crashes, like whiplash, do not show up right away. If you do begin to suffer ill effects from the crash, notify your health professional immediately, get yourself checked out, and follow the doctor’s instructions as to care and follow-up.
Failure to get medical care might have serious consequences
If you have latent injuries that only show up 24-36 hours later. Do not neglect symptoms that are unfamiliar, or pain that appears hours later. Report any symptoms to your doctor, however slight. Serious back injuries can start out as nothing more than a simple ache, but left untreated they can cause major health difficulties. Furthermore, if you do have problems, your insurance company will need proof that the problems were diagnosed and treated promptly, and that the problems were related to the accident.
Get legal help
You may wish to contact an experienced car accident lawyer immediately. He or she may wish to examine the evidence at the site and gather as much information as possible.
Is fault contested in your case, or do the other driver and their insurance company admit that the other driver caused the accident?
Where fault for a car accident is contested, if you cannot prove that the other driver caused the accident, you will lose and recover nothing. So, you cannot take a chance on this. If there is going to be a fight over fault, especially if that fight will be waged in a court that applies the technical rules of evidence, then there is too much at stake for you to go it alone, and you need a car accident lawyer’s help.
How much are your out-of-pocket expenses for such things as medical bills and lost income?
You might be comfortable settling your own claims if your out-of-pocket expenses are $2,000, $3,000 or $5,000, but you might not want to handle your own claims if these out-of-pocket expenses are $15,000 or $20,000 or more. You have to decide at what level your case is too big to handle yourself, and your personal choking point may be higher or lower than these figures.
How seriously were you injured and how long did it take you to recover?
If you had a serious injury such as a broken bone or a herniated disk that affected you for an extended period of time, and especially if you have a permanent injury that will haunt you the rest of your life, you have a potentially large claim and should hire a lawyer to present it professionally.
These last two questions are different ways of saying that the larger your claim and the more that is at stake, the smarter it is to have a professional on your side. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the case, the harder the other side resists the claim. Learn more about car accident claim value.
Here’s another way to think about it. You wouldn’t do surgery on yourself, but you would definitely treat a small cut or a bruise or some other minor injury. The same is true with legal claims. There are many claims that you can handle yourself if you learn how, but it would be unwise to handle large claims yourself.
Are you going to court?
If you have to take your case to court, and you cannot use an alternative dispute resolution such as the consumer-friendly small claims court, you need a lawyer who knows the court rules. That way you give yourself a fair chance to win and ensure that your legal rights are protected in the Valley Stream, NY area.
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The initial consultation is always FREE. For Commercial Litigation and Personal Injury Law cases, there is no legal fee unless we are successful in getting you money.