You live or work in New York and are now victim of a motor vehicle accident. You are suffering from injuries caused by that accident – perhaps you have lingering pain, serious medical needs, or are out of work due to the accident. Understandably, you want and deserve justice. What should you do?
Before doing anything, there are some key principles that you need to understand when dealing with injuries after a vehicle accident, including how insurance companies are going to handle your case, as well as how “No-Fault” insurance works. In addition, how your case will be handled depends on a variety of factors, including the type of vehicle you were driving, the type of vehicle you were hit by, where the accident occurred, and how serious your injuries are. Following is a breakdown of what to expect after your vehicle accident. For further explanation and legal counsel, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. today.
Your Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend
To reduce the amount of money they pay to covered accident victims, insurance companies routinely deny and disclaim legitimate personal injury claims. Even victims who have suffered injuries from an accident that appears straightforward find that the insurance companies still deny, delay, or defend these claims. Such a process is painful and frustrating. Simply submitting a claim with the insurance company is not enough. It is important that you have an experienced New York vehicle accident attorney who understands the laws and knows how to negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Do not give a statement to the insurance company until you speak with an experienced accident attorney. The insurance companies will misconstrue your statement and use it against you, and they certainly do not want you to have proper legal representation because they know that you, the accident victim, will receive more from them with representation than without, even after your lawyers are paid. That is why you should contact the New York vehicle accident lawyers of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C.
Motor Vehicle Accident Overview
Motor vehicles of all types and sizes, including cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and trucks, use the roads and highways of New York every day. As traffic continues to rise, so do the number of vehicle accidents. Certain vehicles pose more dangers than others, but one thing is constant: accidents can be dangerous and deadly to passengers, drivers, and pedestrians alike.
The experienced attorneys of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. handle all types of New York motor vehicle accident lawsuits, including:
- Auto Accidents – These can happen anywhere, anytime and many are caused by driver inattention. Other factors can include alcohol, speeding, and a failure to observe traffic laws at red lights, stop signs, construction sites, and other highway hazards.
- Hit and Run Accidents – These injure or kill hundreds of innocent pedestrians and motorists each year, despite numerous laws that penalize negligent drivers. Injured victims face significant hurdles when they attempt to file claims against unidentified drivers. Only an experienced attorney can help navigate New York’s complex insurance laws to obtain all of the money you are entitled to.
- SUV Rollovers – Rollovers happen more frequently to sport utility vehicles than other passenger cars. Many SUVs have high centers of gravity and top-heavy design elements, making them particularly susceptible to rollover accidents that can crush the SUV’s occupants. Manufacturers must be held accountable when their faulty designs cause needless and deadly accidents.
- Van Accidents – The number of deadly accidents involving 15-passenger vans has steadily increased over the past few years. Because many of these vehicles are used by sports teams, church groups, nursing homes, and other organizations, van accidents can potentially injure many innocent victims.
- Bus Accidents – These can be deadly. A yearly average of 325 buses nationally are involved in fatal collisions. New York, with its many transportation hubs, ranks high on the list of states in which these dangerous crashes occur. More alarming is that 40 percent of the buses operating in the United States are school buses, which places innocent children at risk.
- Taxi Cab Accidents – In New York City, taxi cab accidents can involve other cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, or fixed objects. According to one study, nearly 4,300 accidents involving taxi cabs occurred in one 12-month span. Seventy percent of those accidents resulted in personal injury or death.
- Motorcycle Accidents – These lead to 2,000 U.S. fatalities each year. Another 50,000 motorcyclists are injured each year in traffic collisions. Approximately 75 percent of those accidents involve another vehicle and are often the fault of the other driver. Nevertheless, insurance companies continue to blame motorcyclists for most collisions. Therefore, to obtain all of the money you are entitled to, it is crucial to have experienced legal representation to protect your rights.
- Tractor Trailer Accidents – These are often caused by the negligence of the trucker or trucking company. Factors that lead to wrecks for semi-trucks and their drivers include brake problems, traffic congestion, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, cell phone use, tailgating, speeding, unfamiliarity with local roads, and driver fatigue. Trucking companies are experienced with handling legal claims against their drivers and are adept at denying fault. Victims of tractor-trailer accidents require an experienced attorney to protect their interests.
- ATV Accidents – Yearly, these cause more than 500 deaths – many of them minors – as well as 140,000 injuries. Often, driver inexperience causes ATV accidents; however, defective design and/or parts also contribute to these dangerous crashes. As such, experienced legal representation is essential in any ATV injury case.
Separate from personal injury claims, No-Fault insurance (also known as Personal Insurance Protection or “PIP”), passed in 1973 and amended in 1977, reduces lawsuits arising from auto/vehicular accidents (NY Ins. L. § 5103). Prior to No-Fault, an accident victim sued the at-fault driver or wrongdoer in an attempt to collect money for medical bills and lost wages. Today, under No-Fault laws, the insurance company that provides coverage for the vehicle you are in pays No-Fault benefits, even if the driver of that vehicle did nothing wrong. For instance, you are the driver of – or a passenger in – a vehicle stopped at a red light. Another vehicle hits your vehicle in the rear, resulting in an injury to you. Under the No-Fault statute, the insurance company covering your vehicle will pay you benefits, regardless of whether or not the driver of the other vehicle is at-fault. Hence the term “No-Fault.” Its purpose is to avoid lawsuits against at-fault drivers by mandating a quick resolution to motor vehicle accident claims. While you may be able to bring suit against the at-fault driver, your medical bills and lost wages would be covered by the insurance company covering your vehicle, per the No-Fault law.
Who and What Are Covered by No-Fault?
No-Fault insurance covers cyclists, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents (NY Ins. L. § 5102(b)). Coverage is for medical costs, a percentage of lost wages, compensation for substituted services, and all other reasonable expenses incurred as the result of personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident in New York, up to a maximum of $50,000 per person. However, No-Fault insurance does not cover motorcycles, although motorcyclists may still be covered under the No-Fault law if a cyclist collides with a covered vehicle.
You Must Provide Written Notice After an Accident
Furthermore, most drivers do not know that the New York No-Fault insurance laws require injured parties to provide written notice of the accident within 30 days of the accident date (11 NYCRR § 65-1(1)). Failure to properly notify can lead to forfeiture of No-Fault insurance coverage, which would absolve the insurance company from paying you one cent for medical bills and lost wages. Therefore, if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is crucial that you take immediate action and are represented by lawyers experienced and knowledgeable of the New York No-Fault insurance laws.
Serious Personal Injury
For motor vehicle accident victims suffering from serious personal injury, the New York lawyers of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. can provide strong legal representation to help you recover just compensation for your serious injuries. Serious personal injury includes death, dismemberment, and other significant limitation of a body use or function (NY Ins. L. § 5102(d)).
Courts interpret the term “significant limitation of a body use or function” to mean “something more than a minor limitation of use.” Therefore, to be successful, a lawyer must demonstrate that the injury is “significant,” which requires knowledge of and experience with personal injury cases.
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. for Your Vehicle Accident Case
New York motor vehicle accidents can cause serious injuries that may leave you maimed, scarred, or disabled for life. Often, a person can no longer work nor provide for his or her family. Legal action can help you obtain the money you are entitled to and ensure financial security for your family for life. When you have suffered a severe injury as a result of a vehicle accident, you need the New York lawyers of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. at your side. With decades of experience and a track record for success, our attorneys are well-prepared to handle your case, stand up for your rights, and deliver the justice you deserve. Call us at 1-800-966-4999 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!