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When Should I Contact an Attorney If I Am Involved in a Car Accident?

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, it is crucial to contact a New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A car accident is a stressful experience, between the immediate physical and emotional distress and legal issues that come after the crash, the situation can quickly feel overwhelming. A dedicated and caring New York car accident lawyer, using their experience and legal insight, can determine the best path forward.

There are a great many legal issues that can arise that are best addressed by an experienced personal injury lawyer. A handful of such issues are discussed below. Remember, the sooner you contact a personal injury lawyer at our firm, the greater our opportunity to build the strongest case possible for you

New York Car Accident Laws

New York is a no-fault state, which means individuals injured in a car accident must contact their own car insurance company regarding compensation for accident related medical treatment expenses and loss of income due to work disability caused by the accident, regardless of who is at fault. Injured persons must file a claim for no-fault benefits (Form NF-2) with their own car insurance company within thirty (30) days of the car accident to avoid losing the right to these no-fault benefits. 

New York Shared Fault Law

If an injured individual meets the prerequisites with respect to injury severity to file a claim against the at-fault driver, they must be able to prove that the accident was the defendant’s fault in court. In situations where the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault, any compensation for their injuries is reduced according to their percentage of fault, as per New York Civil Practice Law & Rules § 1411. For example, if the victim’s claim for injuries is evaluated by a jury to be $400,000 but is found to be 25 percent at fault, they will only receive $100,000. Therefore, being represented by a skilled personal injury lawyer can make a tremendous difference as to the presentation of the case with respect to comparative liability potentially reducing the amount of the money recovery.

Bad-Faith Insurance Companies

Insurance companies in New York have a duty to act in good faith. Under certain circumstances, the refusal of an insurance company to offer a settlement within their policy limits can constitute bad faith, which can result in that insurance company being obligated to pay the full amount of damages awarded to the injury victim, even if that amount exceeds the insurance company’s policy limit. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be familiar with bad faith claims and will use that familiarity to protect the rights of the injured client.

Statute of Limitations

All civil cases in general and personal injury cases in particular are governed by statutes of limitation. These statutes set forth the amount of time from the date of their accident that an accident injury victim can file a lawsuit in court. If they do not file within this period, they lose their right to compensation. Additionally, claims and lawsuits are governed by other time-deadlines which can affect the case outcome. Since time is limited, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following the accident to make sure that deadlines are met and that all appropriate actions are taken in a timely manner.

Crafting a Case

After contacting an attorney, the claimant will be asked for such information as a recollection of the accident, as well as the circumstances preceding and following the event and a description of the injuries suffered and the medical treatment obtained. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know what evidence to obtain to present the case in the best light possible for the injury victim and the best way to obtain such evidence. 

Filing a Claim Against a Government Employee or Agency

A car accident that was the result of the negligence of an employee or agency of the government — for example, if the offending vehicle was owned by the City of New York and operated by one of the city’s employees at the time of the accident — must be approached differently than standard personal injury cases. However, it is still critical to contact an attorney as soon as possible. N.Y. Gen. Mun. Laws § 50-e states that a Notice of Claim against cities in New York must be filed within 90 days and lawsuits against cities in New York must be filed within one year and ninety days. The same timeline rules apply for formal claims and suits against a county in New York, as per N.Y. County Law § 52.

Contacting a New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury due to a car accident, please contact a New York personal injury attorney at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. as soon as possible. With our experience of prosecuting many cases and our thorough understanding of the applicable laws, we will work to determine how much you are legally entitled to and advise you as to filing  a claim with your insurance company or, if indicated, developing a plan for presenting your case in court. We invite you to call us now at (516) 932-0400 for a free case review and no-obligation consultation.

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