12 Secrets of NY Car Accident Lawyers
The average driver is involved in at least three accidents in their lifetime. Most crashes do not cause major property damage or injuries, but they can still result in severe psychological trauma. In New York, whether you were injured or not, partially at fault or not, you may be able to sue for compensation.
The best NY accident lawyers know the ins and outs of the system and can often secure six- and seven-figure settlements on behalf of accident victims. Insurance companies will resort to every trick in the book to avoid paying claims. Seasoned attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to fight insurers aggressively and maximize compensation. Read on to learn about their secret strategies to obtain a favorable outcome in different types of car accident lawsuits.
1. Strategies to Maximize Damages
If you were involved in a car accident in New York, you may be able to sue for damages. In the State of New York, car accident victims can sue to recover losses, including medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, property damage, assistive services (if you need to hire someone to help you through recovery from an injury), rehabilitation, and any other expenses you incurred as a result of the accident.
New York’s no-fault insurance laws also allow you to file a claim with your own personal injury insurance to cover lost wages and medical expenses.
An experienced NY accident lawyer will also seek non-economic damages. These types of damages are less tangible. Knowledgeable attorneys know how to estimate non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment, humiliation, reputation damage, and any relationship issues resulting from the accident, known as loss of consortium.
2. When to Seek Punitive Damages
New York may allow you to recover punitive damages if the other party behaved in an egregious way. A seasoned New York attorney specializing in car accident lawsuits knows that the State will only allow these damages if there is very strong evidence that the defendant’s behavior implied an utter disregard for the victims’ safety.
3. There Are no Damage Caps in New York
New York does not impose damage caps in road accident cases. Experienced lawyers know how to maximize settlements, including punitive damages. If you were involved in a serious accident, you could potentially recover millions of dollars.
4. People Who Are Partially Responsible Can Still Sue in New York
Even if the other party was not 100% responsible for the accident, you may still be able to sue for damages. The only difference is that there will be a reduction in any judgment based on your percentage of responsibility.
5. You Don’t Settle too Soon
When someone is injured in an accident, the defendant’s insurer may try to negotiate a quick settlement. The problem with settling a case too soon is that the victim may still be unaware of the full extent of the damages. It can take a long time to develop symptoms from some injuries. If you agree to a settlement too soon, you may later discover that you need expensive medical treatments that the settlement amount will not cover.
6. Understand Insurance Company Tactics
Insurers know that accident victims may be in dire need of cash to cover medical bills and other expenses. One of the tactics they commonly use is stalling. They know you are unable to work due to your injuries, medical bills are piling up, and you are more likely to take a low settlement offer if you are in financial trouble.
Insurance companies are always ready to take advantage of the victim’s vulnerability, so they are used to waiting until you are desperate. However, experienced personal injury lawyers can advise you on how to manage your pre-settlement expenses. They can fight aggressively on your behalf so you won’t fall into insurers’ common traps.
7. Victims Should Not Make Statements
Insurers are ready to use anything you say against you. You are under no obligation to make a statement to claims adjusters. A good car accident lawyer advises plaintiffs to keep quiet and only talk when it’s necessary.
Insurers don’t really need your statement; they can find all the necessary information in police reports and medical records. But they will insist on getting your statement so they can later use it against you in court. For example, they may ask you how you are feeling. If you casually answer that you are OK, they may later use your statement to prove that your injuries were not that serious.
8. Realistic Settlement Estimates
An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to calculate potential recoveries based on the available insurance, the severity of injuries, and the assets of the motorist at fault. Factors that may impact potential compensation include:
- Age - Injuries in young people result in medical costs over a longer period of life
- Previous injuries - For example, someone with a history of back problems may have a hard time arguing they injured their back in the accident
- Extent of damage to your vehicle
- Egregious conduct - DUI, hit-and-run, etc.
- Emergency care received at a hospital following the collision,
- Whether you continued to receive medical treatment
- Your level of responsibility for the crash
While nobody can predict the value of your case with total certainty, top-tier New York accident attorneys can give you a ballpark estimate from the outset, based on the accident circumstances, the available insurance, and precedents of settlements with the same insurers for similar incidents.
A lawyer too eager to get your case may give you an unrealistic estimate, but an experienced one will investigate the incident and offer a meaningful assessment.
9. Clients Must Contact Attorneys Early On
If you don’t hire counsel early on, insurers may coerce you to sign statements or agree to lowball settlements. They will approach you when you are most vulnerable, before you have learned about your rights and the potential recoveries of your case.
10. Clients Should Not Talk to The Other Driver or Post on Social Media
Even if you don’t say a word to the claims adjuster, they may still be able to use your words against you. Anything you say to the other driver, any posts you make about the accident may be used as ammunition to beat you in court. If you post vacation photos on Instagram when you are supposed to be receiving medical treatment for serious injuries, this may also be used against you in court.
11. Victims Must Report to DMV and Keep Good Records
Documentation can be vital for reaching a sizable settlement. Taking photos at the scene, writing down the names and contact info of witnesses and involved parties, asking for copies of police reports, getting contact information for any doctors and first responders you saw, all of this is important to ensure your lawyer has everything they need to negotiate a convenient settlement.
The State of New York requires you to inform the DMV about car accidents within 10 days of any collision that caused injuries or property damages surpassing $1,000. If you do not file the required form, your license can be suspended.
An established car accident attorney will guide you and ensure compliance with the State’s requirements. They can also unearth evidence and secure witness statements, but they cannot go back to the crucial moment when everything happened. Report the accident to the DMV, take photos at the scene, and keep records of everything. This will maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.
12. New York’s Statute of Limitations
New York’s Statute of Limitations provides that you have three years to file suit if you are involved in an accident. If you don’t sue the at-fault driver or their insurer within three years of the incident, you will lose your right to pursue compensation. For this reason, experienced attorneys know they need to act fast. A recognized personal injury lawyer also knows what exceptions may apply to extend the deadline to file suit.
A car accident can be a traumatic experience. It may change your life forever and lead to expensive medical treatments, pain, suffering, and the inability to work and earn a living. By hiring an experienced New York car accident lawyer, you can get the support you need and obtain the compensation you deserve.