When you are involved in a car accident that is not your fault, you probably have many questions. The first one is probably: Should I contact a car accident attorney? The answer is a simple, resounding yes. And the best time to contact a car accident lawyer is as soon as possible.
You have injuries, you are in pain, and you are confused. You are accumulating a stack of medical bills, and since you may not be able to work because of your injuries, you may worry about how you will pay for them. That is why it is essential to contact an attorney with experience handling personal injury car accident cases. A car accident attorney can help you with all the following steps and answer your questions. You can spend your time and energy recovering from your injuries.
What To Do After a Long Island Car Accident
A car accident can frighten, confuse, and overwhelm you.
If you were in a car accident on Long Island, immediately:
- Assess the medical needs of you and your passengers. If anyone is injured, call for medical help immediately by dialing 9-1-1.
- In New York, it is required that the police are notified during any accident that causes injuries or substantial damages. Once the officer has responded, get their name and answer their questions unless you are being transported by medical personnel.
- You must exchange information with all drivers that are involved in the accident. Get their name, address, phone number, insurance company, and policy number. Try to get the driver’s license number and plate. Ask for permission to take photos of their driver’s license or insurance card to make things easier. The exchange of information is required by New York law, so all drivers should cooperate.
- If you are physically able, get any other information that you can. This would include taking photos of the accident and the at-fault vehicle and obtaining contact information from witnesses.
- Contact a Long Island Car Accident Injury attorney. Your attorney will guide you to any required forms that need to be filed, including a no-fault application for medical bills and lost wages.
Why Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
Sure, you can handle your car accident injury case on your own. But the results can be devastating. Insurance companies are in business to make money, and they do this by reducing claims and the amount of money they pay out. An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to deal with insurance companies and knows how to get optimal results for the clients they represent.
You are not a lawyer. That means you do not necessarily know the law and your rights under the law. You may not know the damages you are entitled to be compensated for or how benefits are calculated. An attorney experienced in car accident injury cases will be able to determine what damages you should recover and fight for you with the insurance company.
Finding the Best Car Accident Attorney
Not all car accident lawyers are created equal. Often, attorneys who do not specialize in personal injury car accident cases cannot obtain the same results as those with years of experience and knowledge.
There are some things you should look for in choosing a car accident personal injury lawyer, so consider asking:
- What is your experience in car accident cases?
- Are you familiar with cases in the Long Island area?
- How many years have you worked on personal injury cases?
- What have been the results of the cases they have settled?
- Ask for details on settlements or customer testimonials.
- Do I have a valid case?
- How/when are you paid?
You can also do some research on your own. Well-established attorneys have roots in the community and have a track record where they have helped accident victims.
Questions to Ask Your Car Accident Attorney
Once you have scheduled your free consultation with your car accident injury attorney, you will have many more questions. It may be a good idea to write some of them down before the consultation to optimize your time, and so that you will not forget something important to your case. The following are questions you will want to have answered to ensure you meet legal deadlines, get the best representation, and have a good idea of how your case will be handled.
1. Do I have a case, and how much is it worth?
You can present the facts to your car accident attorney, and they will be able to go over all of the information available to determine the extent and complexity of your case. Of course, it may take time to gather pertinent information, but an experienced car accident attorney can tell you if your case is worth pursuing.
Determining how much your case is worth is a bit more complex. It depends on several factors, such as the extent of your injuries and other damages, your projected recovery time, your medical expenses, and the amount of pain and suffering you are experiencing due to the accident. An experienced Long Island car accident injury attorney will help you gather the information and provide support and representation to protect your rights and optimize your case’s outcome.
2. Is there a time limit on filing my car accident injury claim?
Generally, there is a Statute of Limitation in New York of three years from the date of the accident to file a car accident injury claim. Filing after that period increases the likelihood of your case being dismissed without recovering compensation for your claims. Additionally, keep in mind there are some situations where you may have as little as 90 days to act. Since New York is a no-fault state, some of the medical expenses and lost income are covered by your insurance carrier and must be filed within thirty days of the accident.
Filing your claim promptly also has other advantages as well. If your case depends on witness testimony, photos, surveillance, or cell phone video, obtaining that evidence may be more challenging if it is delayed. Reports are more difficult to obtain, and it can be harder to prove that your injuries result from an accident from a long time ago.
3. Do you need any information from me?
Absolutely! Just because you hire a Long Island car accident injury attorney does not mean you are no longer involved in your case. You will need to supply any information to the attorney handling your case concerning your accident or injuries. This includes all medical records, physician recommendations, medical bills, and documentation from therapists.
Police reports, witness statements, contact information, photos, videos, or other documentation regarding the accident. Documentation from your employer stating time lost or diminished capacity resulting in a reduction in earnings. Statements from family or friends verifying the emotional or phycological changes you display since the accident.
4. I have Personal Injury Protection (PIP), so what damages can I expect to collect?
Personal Injury Protection is a no-fault auto insurance policy required by the state of New York to pay for basic medical expenses and partial loss of income recovery. PIP does have policy limits though. If your injuries exceed those limits, or you suffered a serious physical injury, you can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver.
You may recover compensation for:
- Medical costs that exceed your PIP limits, including but not limited to hospitalization, prescriptions, surgeries, prosthetics, at-home care, physical therapy, diagnostic testing, and any other medical or medical-related expenses that are a direct result of your accident.
- Lost income that exceeds your PIP limits. You may also be compensated if your injuries diminish your capacity to earn at the level you were before your accident.
- Pain and suffering that result from your accident. This involves many intangible damages, such as pain that prevents you from functioning as you did before the accident, sleeplessness, fear, PTSD, grief, anger, depression, diminished quality of life, or cognitive changes after brain injuries or head trauma.
5. What about future losses?
Depending on your injuries, you may have future losses that should be calculated into your settlement. If your case is settled and you have losses after the settlement is finalized, it is difficult, if not impossible, to recoup money for these damages. You should not be held responsible for these expenses after the case is settled. Your attorney has access to expert witnesses, including medical personnel with expertise in your injuries. They have experience with prior cases, so they can calculate future life care needs more efficiently.
Future losses include:
- Long-term hospitalization
- Rehabilitation or therapy
- Future surgeries
- Future loss of earnings if you can no longer work in the same profession or the same number of hours
- Loss of benefits resulting from a change in employment.
- Future pain and suffering.
6. How long will my case take?
Car accident personal injury cases can take anywhere from a few weeks to years. There are just too many variables to say, but once your attorney gets all the facts about your case, they may be able to give you a better estimate. Normally, the larger the settlement, the longer the case takes to settle.
There are some things that you can do to speed up the process:
- Gather all the information as requested by your attorney promptly.
- Be responsive to phone calls and questions from your attorney.
- Make and keep appointments with medical personnel as requested by your attorney.
Other factors that may delay your case:
- The at-fault insurance company requests additional information or needs time to investigate the information you have already provided. They may have hired experts to examine photos of the accident or medical records.
- Trouble getting records required for your cases, such as medical reports, police reports, or witness statements. Some witnesses may not be located easily.
It is important to remember that though it may take a little longer to finalize your case, it may also be more complete in determining expenses and projected costs.
7. Will my case go to court?
It could. Most insurance companies want to avoid taking their cases to court whenever possible. Usually, a case will go to trial only when the insurance company refuses to settle or offers a settlement that is too low or unfair. That is another reason hiring an attorney experienced in personal injury law is essential to your case. They will fight to get you a fair compensation package that protects you in the future.
Get a Free Personal Injury Case Review
Suppose you have been injured in a Long Island car accident that is not your fault. In that case, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney with experience handling Long Island car accident cases. Find an attorney who can fight for your rights and obtain the financial security you deserve.