Auto accidents are the most prevalent cause of injury and death in the United States. Every year, thousands of people sustained serious and fatal injuries as a result of being in a motor vehicle accident. When another driver’s negligence causes an accident, victims may seek financial remedies through insurance claims or tort.
Tort is defined as a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract leading to civil legal liability actions.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle cycle accident your first priority is to seek proper medical attention. Immediately following, there are important steps that must be taken following an accident to protect your rights. Therefore, as soon as possible you or a family member should call an attorney who is experienced in handling motor vehicle accident claims. The attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik have have been defending clients rights in NYC auto accidents for over 20 years.
Once you secure medical attention a consultation with an NY auto accident attorney prior to filing a claim is highly advised.
Fault vs. No-fault Auto Accident Laws
Most states in the nation implement either an at-fault or a no-fault car insurance system. In the former, drivers who sustained damages in a crash have the option of filing a claim with their own insurance company, with the other driver’s insurance company, or directly against the at-fault party. A fault-based system is also known as a traditional tort system.
In no-fault states, however, drivers may not file a claim directly against the at-fault party unless damages that they have sustained are “severe.” Usually, severe damages include permanent injury or impairment, fractures, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and death. However, this varies on a state-by-state basis.
In New York, if you are injured in an car accident, you are entitled to receive no-fault insurance benefits for accident-related losses regardless of who was at fault for the accident. No-fault benefits include payment for your medical and prescription expenses, lost wages, and other incidental expenses for items such as travel to doctors and household care. These benefits are paid by the insurance company insuring the vehicle you were in, or if you were a pedestrian, the vehicle that struck you. No-fault benefits are in addition to any right you may have to bring a lawsuit against the negligent driver who was responsible for causing your injuries.
To receive no-fault benefits, the injured party must contact the no-fault insurance company, request an application for benefits, and return the completed application. The insurance industry has successfully restricted injured victims’ rights. Injured persons have only 30 days from the day of the accident to apply for no-fault benefits. Doctors and hospitals have only 45 days to file for payment.
To protect yourself if you are involved in an automobile accident, it is critical that you obtain the name and address of the no-fault insurance company as soon after the accident as possible. Then, within 30 days of the accident, you must notify the company, in writing, of the accident and any injuries you have, no matter how minor they may seem. In your letter, you should also request that a no-fault application be sent to you. Complete and return the no-fault application to the insurance company. Finally, we suggest that all correspondence to the insurance company be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Of course, if we can be of any assistance to you concerning no-fault benefits or any other accident-related issue, we invite you to us as soon as possible.
What to do if you're in an Auto Accident
- Call the police and make sure any injured persons are taken care of.
- Take pictures of the scene where possible.
- Write down the Make and Model of each vehicle involved, plus take pictures of drivers licenses & insurance information.
- Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses who stay around after the accident.
- Call your insurance agent as soon as you can, even if you are out of town and it was somebody else’s fault. Request a no-fault insurance application.
Whiplash can cause devastating affects on your body and loved ones involved in a auto accidents. Learn more about whiplash auto accidents.
Proving Negligence in an Auto Accident Claim
If you live in a traditional tort system state, or if you have sustained severe injuries, then you can file a claim for economic and non-economic damages directly against the at-fault party. To do so, you will have to prove that the other driver’s negligence was the direct cause of the accident. Negligence refers to acting in a manner that violates the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation. In regards to car accidents, drinking while driving, or driving at an unsafe speed for conditions, are examples of negligent actions.
Choosing the right car
Ultimately, the proper vehicle can help reduce the risk of injury when in an auto accident. Although there is no "perfect" car, there certainly are things to look for when purchasing one. Safety ratings are incredibly important as are certain safety features.
Recover Damages for Your Injuries Today
Injuries incurred in an auto accident can change your life. To begin the process of recovering damages for the harm that you have suffered, reach out to the personal injury attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC today. We can help you understand your state’s car insurance laws, as well as how to prove negligence in a civil action. Fill out the form below to request your initial consultation.