The most recent data from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that there were over 300,000 motor vehicle accidents in the state during 2013. Of those, 124,505 wrecks caused injury and over 1,000 caused death. In Nassau County, there were 33,517 accidents in 2013. That is 11% of the state total. Over 12,000 in the county caused injury. If you have been severely injured in a motor vehicle accident, you will find the skill and experience you need in a Nassau County car accident attorney at Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP.
When you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, you need to focus on rehabilitation and wellness. However, surmounting medical expenses, rehabilitation treatments, and a long-term outlook can leave you overwhelmed with decisions about financing and arrangements for the future. If other parties involved in the accident are responsible, you should seriously consider seeking legal advice. Recovering damages can take away some of the burden of planning for an uncertain future.
Car accidents can be caused by a number of risk factors that are difficult to pinpoint. Many times, accidents occur because of negligent behavior. Victims of those accidents may suffer from chronic pain and other injuries for the rest of their lives. Criminal law prosecutes those who fail to follow the law, but civil law can help you receive the compensation needed to deal with the aftermath of a car accident.
New York Car Accident Basics
Although every car accident case is unique, the same set of New York laws apply to all of them. Understanding the basics of New York’s car accident laws can help you know what to do as a victim. It can give you an idea of what to expect from the claims process and how best to protect your rights after a collision. Here are a few things to know about crashes in New York:
- Stay on the scene and call 911. New York law requires all parties involved in a collision to remain on the scene until they verify that it’s okay to leave. Fleeing the scene is a hit-and-run, and leaving could result in criminal charges. Report your crash to the police if it caused injuries, death, or property damage greater than $1,000.
- The more information you gather, the better. There is no such thing as knowing too much about a crash. From the beginning, collect as much information as you can. This includes the driver’s name and insurance company, license plate numbers, date and location of the crash, and photographs of the scene, property damage, and injuries.
- Seek medical attention ASAP. If you’re not sure if you’re injured, go to the hospital and find out. Do not tell the police you’re not injured if you’re unsure. This can hurt your chances of recovery later. Go to the hospital immediately following a car accident to tend to your injuries.
- Call your insurance company. New York is one of 12 states with no-fault car insurance laws. This means that regardless of who caused the accident, you must seek recovery through your own insurance company first and foremost. You may be eligible to receive up to $50,000 or more in no-fault benefits through the insurer of the vehicle you occupied.
- Contact an attorney. There are limitations on when you can file a personal injury claim and which claims will be successful. You can only sue successfully if you have sustained what the law considers to be a “serious injury,” your economic losses exceed $50,000 or if you’re seeking compensation for property damage. Talk to a Nassau County car accident attorney to find out if your crash has merit as a personal injury claim in New York.
- Don’t miss your deadline. In New York, you have three years from the date of your car accident to bring a personal injury claim against a non-governmental defendant. When the defendant is a town, municipality or other governmental entity a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days and a lawsuit must be commenced within one year and ninety days.Failure to meet these deadlines can result in the loss of an otherwise successful claim.
- Comparative fault laws. New York is a pure comparative fault state. This means that a claimant can be 99% at fault for a crash and still recover 1% of compensation. The court or jury will examine the comparative fault of the claimant when determining an award amount and reduce the recoverable amount by the claimant’s percentage of fault.
Car accident claims can take many shapes and forms. You might be able to sue another driver for negligence behind the wheel, a product manufacturer for a vehicle defect, the County of Nassau for a roadway hazard, and/or third parties for negligence. Many claims name more than one defendant. The best way to get a handle on the elements of your specific claim is to talk with a Nassau County personal injury lawyer experienced in car accident claims.
New York Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline
There is no single timeline that applies to every car accident claim in New York. Every case is different and will take different amounts of time depending on the claim. You can get a basic idea of how long your case can take by talking with a Long Island accident lawyer in Nassau County. The first step is to call your own insurance company and report the crash. Call as soon as you can to avoid missing an important deadline. Your insurance agent will collect details of the crash from you and then open a claim.
Many car accident claims in New York settle without having to go to court. This process is faster (and cheaper) than claims that have to go to court. In most cases, the parties will agree to settle instead of taking the risk of going to trial. If your claim settles in your favor, you can expect a compensation check shortly thereafter. Claims that have to go to court will take longer to resolve – typically, several months to three or four years. Again, the exact timeline will depend on the specifics of the case.
Causes of Car Accidents
Drivers on the road are expected to exercise a reasonable degree of caution when operating a vehicle. When they fail to follow the rules of the road or otherwise pay attention to their surroundings, the likelihood of an accident increases. Car accidents commonly arise from risk factors such as:
- Distracted driving. Texting, talking on the phone, eating, or scrambling around for items in your car takes attention away from the roadway. There is no responsible way to text and drive, and any behavior that distracts drivers from their primary driving responsibility is grounds for negligence under the law.
- Failure to follow road rules. Common rule infractions include failure to yield, speeding, tailgating, and ignoring traffic signals.
- DUI/DWI. Driving under the influence is both negligent and illegal. The legal blood alcohol limit in New York is .08, and anyone who causes a wreck and has alcohol or other drugs in his or her system may face prosecution in both criminal and civil courts.
In some cases, the cause of an accident may be a car manufacturer. Parts and vehicle manufacturers are subject to lawsuits. When a vehicle does not respond properly or sufficiently to protect its inhabitants, otherwise known as product liability in the legal world, your lawsuit may become complex.
Reporting a Car Accident in New York
It is mandatory to report a car accident to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if it caused property damage of $1,000 or more, or if it injured or killed a person. You must report your crash within 10 days of it happening, or else risk driver’s license suspension. If your crash resulted in less than $1,000 worth of property damage, you will only need to exchange information with the other driver.
To file your claim, someone (you, your insurance agent, or your attorney) must fill out Form MV-104, the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident, and submit it to the DMV. This form requires information about the accident, such as its time and place, both drivers’ names and license information, both drivers’ policies, and a description of what happened.
New York Car Insurance Requirements
The law prohibits drivers from registering or operating vehicles without proper New York State issued automobile liability insurance coverage. Failure to maintain adequate coverage can result in driver’s license and vehicle registration suspension. The minimum insurance requirements in NY are as follows:
- $10,000 for single-accident property damage
- $25,000 for bodily injury for a single person
- $50,000 for the death of a single person
- $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people
Your automobile insurance must never lapse in coverage. It has to remain in effect while your vehicle’s registration is valid, regardless of whether you drive the vehicle. Out-of-state insurance is not acceptable. Your insurance must bear the name of the vehicle registrant. There can only be one or two names on a vehicle’s registration. If there are two names, both must appear on an insurance card.
What to Do If an Uninsured Driver Hits You
Some New Yorkers ignore the state’s mandatory minimum insurance laws or fail to carry adequate coverage. If you happen to get into a car accident with an uninsured driver, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck. The insurance policy on the car you occupied at the time of the accident will have a minimum of $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and no-fault benefits coverage.
If you purchased supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (SUM), your policy will provide even higher limits of insurance for the benefit of you and immediate family members that reside with you who are injured in a motor vehicle accident.
In a personal injury lawsuit, it does not matter whether the at-fault driver has insurance. You are suing on the grounds of negligence for causing the collision. It typically does not make sense to sue the uninsured driver. Lack of insurance is a common sign that the person will not have the money to pay a settlement. A claim could be helpful if another party contributed to the crash, such as a product manufacturer or roadway maintenance crew. A claim could also be a good idea if the driver was on duty at the time, such as a delivery person, mailperson, or Uber/Lyft driver.
Protecting Your Rights
You may have only ever thought about personal injury in a stereotypical way. It’s important to understand that the work we do at Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP is far from stereotypical. We are compassionate advocates for clients who deserve to receive compensation under state law. We sincerely understand the difficulty you face after a car accident, especially one that you didn’t cause.
Every accident is different and requires careful investigation. Our team of eight dedicated Nassau County car accident lawyers handles these types of cases on a regular basis. We approach each case with a fresh perspective so that we can discover the contributing factors and develop a case that supports your best interests.
Contacting a member of our dedicated legal team as quickly as possible after your accident should be your first priority after receiving medical attention. Investigations into accidents are time-sensitive and the evidence starts to disappear soon after an accident has been cleared. We work diligently from the moment we are hired to ensure we have all the evidence needed to expertly represent our clients.
Free Consultation With a Nassau County Car Accident Lawyer
Contact an experienced Nassau County car accident attorney at Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are only paid if we secure compensation. We believe our personalized approach sets us apart, and we appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about your car accident case.