What should I do right after a car accident?
It is a good idea to report the accident to the police immediately and have the police come to the scene of the accident. You should obtain the necessary information from the police officer so that you can obtain a copy of the police accident report. You should also seek medical treatment, even if your injuries seem to be minor at first.
Any car accident, no matter how minor, can be a very scary and traumatic experience and it is very common for people to be injured without even knowing it. Pain and other symptoms often develop several hours or even days after the car accident. If this occurs, it is advisable to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
If you have the chance, get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. It can also be helpful to take photos at the accident of the vehicles involved or any hazardous conditions on the street or highway.
If you were injured, you should file an application for New York State No Fault Benefits with the auto insurance carrier for the vehicle that you were in at the time of the accident. If we accept your case, our law firm can assist you in filing your No Fault application process which is described below.
When should I contact a lawyer after an accident?
The best time to seek legal advice is as soon as possible. It is always beneficial to consult with an attorney before speaking with an insurance company representatives or investigators. You can contact The Pryor Law Firm for a free consultation by calling us at any of our three office locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan or Nassau County.
Unless you are absolutely certain that you came out of the accident unharmed, you should consider getting legal advice as soon as possible after the accident, even if your injuries seem to be minor. Head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and other injuries often get worse before they get better, and many injuries are completely overlooked during emergency treatment.
Discussing your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney soon after the accident will protect you from the mistakes that could make it harder for you to recover the full compensation that you deserve later on if you decide to take your claims to court.
How much are legal fees for a personal injury lawsuit?
The Pryor Law Firm accepts personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay no attorney’s fee unless we recover compensation for you through a settlement or after a trial of your claims. If we recover money for you, a percentage of that amount will be paid as our legal fee. If our firm collects nothing for you, we do not get paid and there will be no legal fee under a contingency fee arrangement.
Some personal injury and medical malpractice cases are complicated, and it costs money to investigate the case, review key evidence with experts and develop the case for settlement or trial. Court fees, investigation and expert witness fees in certain cases can cost thousands of dollars.
Make sure that your lawyer can afford to advance these costs unless you are prepared to pay them as the case proceeds. At The Pryor Law Firm, we pay all the expenses necessary to develop a strong case for our client, and we only recover these expenses after the case is settled or won at trial. Our clients pay nothing while we are working on the case.
How does no-fault insurance work?
All drivers of private automobiles in New York are required to carry no-fault insurance, which means that for losses up to $50,000 (or higher limits, if applicable) your own insurer is responsible for paying your medical expenses and loss of income due to missed work if you are involved in an accident. You do not need to prove that the other driver was at fault, nor does any fault of your own affect your right to these insurance benefits.
You are required to file for no-fault benefits within 30 days of your accident, subject to limited exceptions. If you miss the filing deadline, the insurance company might deny coverage of your medical bills, loss of earnings and other coverage available to you. You also need to be careful about protecting your right to payment from the other driver’s insurer while you are pursuing your own no-fault insurance benefits.
It’s a good idea to get legal advice about the details of your no-fault insurance application before you complete and submit the forms to your insurer. Any mistakes you make in the early stages of the process could hurt your interest in getting full compensation for your losses and medical expenses later on.
In more serious motor vehicle accident cases, your losses and expenses will be greater than your no-fault insurance policy coverage limits, and you and your attorney can claim those damages in a personal injury lawsuit against one or more defendants for the full range of your damages. In most cases, you will need to prove that the defendant was at fault in causing your injuries, either in whole or in part.
What if I was partially at fault for my own injuries?
You still have a potential case if someone else was also at fault. Under New York law, an injured party does not need to prove that his or her losses were entirely someone else’s fault. Our state follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that each party in a particular personal injury lawsuit can be held responsible for their own share of the losses. How much responsibility each party bears for an accident is usually a question of fact that must be answered by a jury if the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree on this issue.
For example, in a car accident case in which a jury finds $200,000 in losses to the plaintiff, they could decide that the defendant was 70 percent responsible for the accident and the plaintiff was 30 percent at fault. In that situation, the plaintiff would be able to collect $140,000 from the defendant and his or her insurer, which reflects the proportional responsibility that each party bears for the accident.
In some states, the plaintiff will recover nothing without proof that the defendant was at least 50 percent at fault. In New York, however, any percentage of fault proved against a defendant will support the injured person’s right to recovery, even if the injured person was mostly responsible.
In the example above, the plaintiff would be able to recover $60,000 if the jury found that the plaintiff was 70 percent responsible for causing the accident and the defendant was only 30 percent to blame.
This feature of New York law makes it essential to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer even in cases in which you think the other side will try to blame you for the accident and your own injuries. Contact The Pryor Law Firm in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Nassau County for a free consultation about your legal rights.