Can I Sue Someone if They Hit Me with Their Car?

Being hit by a car is a too common occurrence in New York, and a crash can lead to devastating injuries, property damage, and death. Survivors must deal with recovering from their injuries and mounting medical bills at a time they may be unable to work, and life may never be the same again.

Anyone who has been hit by a car or other vehicle as a result of someone else’s negligence or fault, including hit-and-run victims, has the right to file a claim with insurance and possibly file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. However, New York laws regarding personal injury are complicated, and insurance companies will often try to deny claims or get you to settle for less than your case is worth. Making mistakes can cost you the compensation you deserve, so you should know what your rights are and how to proceed to get a fair settlement.

Whether you are trying to collect from insurance or bring a lawsuit, it can help to consult with an experienced New York personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and the options you have and determine the best way to proceed.

How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim?

After a serious accident, the chances are that your focus is on recovery. You may be dealing with hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, and therapy, and you are probably worried about your future and your family. The thought of suing another driver and their insurance company can feel overwhelming, but you do need to take action quickly because there are time limits for filing a lawsuit.

New York has a statute of limitations, which is a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. Under NY Civil Practice Laws & Rules Section 214, you generally must file your claim within three years from the date of the accident. There are some exceptions if your case involves special factors, such as if your case involves a minor or a municipality. If the injured party is a child, the child has three years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit and must file before their 21st birthday. Deadlines for municipalities and public authorities are often shorter, and, in these cases, there is also a requirement to file a Notice of Claim containing specific content within 90 days of the accident.

If the accident results in the death of a loved one, New York law (Estates, Powers & Trusts § 5-4.1) usually requires you to file a wrongful death action within two years of the death, which may be different from the accident date.

If you fail to file a lawsuit within the time limit that applies to your case, your case is likely to be dismissed and you may be unable to recover compensation. In addition, it is important to file quickly to allow your attorney time to investigate your case and gather evidence while it is available and witnesses can be found.

Compensation You May Recover

In a successful car accident lawsuit, you may be able to receive a monetary award called damages, which is meant to cover both your economic and noneconomic losses and expenses.

Economic damages — are for the financial costs and losses resulting from the accident, such as:

  • Medical and rehabilitation bills, current and future
  • Lost income from being unable to work
  • Property damaged in the accident.

Noneconomic damages — are for damages that do not have a specific dollar value but negatively impact your life, such as:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium and quality and enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement, or permanent loss of limb.

Punitive damages — in some rare cases, where a defendant acted extremely egregiously and recklessly, you may also be awarded punitive damages. These are intended to punish the defendant and to deter such actions in the future.

Amounts of Damage Awards

There are a wide range of damage amounts you may be awarded in a successful car accident case, from the thousands to the millions of dollars. The amount you may receive depends on the factors involved in your individual situation. In determining awards, some factors that are taken into consideration may include:

  • The extent of your injuries and whether they will be permanent and require continuing Care and the effects on your life into the future
  • Your actual costs and monetary losses
  • Your age, family situation and earning situation
  • Whether a wrongful death was involved
  • The degree of negligence of the defendants.

New York does not have a damage cap for personal injury cases, and the more permanent and severe the injury and the greater the impact on your life, the higher the award is likely to be. The individual judge and jury and the skill of your attorneys also play are factors in determining award amounts.

Who Do I Sue After a Car Accident?

New York has a “No-Fault Law,” which means that you typically make a claim first with your own insurance company to pay for medical bills, prescription costs, household services, transportation to medical providers, and lost wages up to the amount of your policy coverage. However, according to the New York State law Section 5102, if your economic losses are over $50,000, or you suffered “serious injuries,” you can bring a lawsuit to sue all individuals or entities (the defendants in the case) that were negligent, at fault, or contributed to the accident.

To win your lawsuit, your car accident attorneys will have to show that the defendant was negligent and caused the accident, and that you suffered damages as a result. This means proving legally that:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care not to cause harm
  • The defendant breached that duty by actions or failing to act
  • This breach caused your injuries
  • The injuries resulted in actual damages.

In addition to the driver of the vehicle that crashed into you and who may have been negligent because of driving while drunk, distracted, or fatigued, there may be other parties who can be sued. Examples include:

  • The manufacturer of a defective auto part, such as a brake that failed
  • The repair person who repaired the vehicle incorrectly
  • A municipality or road repair company that failed to fix a broken traffic signal, remove debris, or post warning signs.

Your attorney should carefully investigate the crash scene, examine traffic videos and photographs, and interview witnesses to find all negligent parties that may have contributed to the accident and name them as defendants in the case. This is important since they may all have assets and insurance that can go toward a settlement.

Can You Sue for a Car Accident if You Are Not Hurt?

In some cases, you will not be able to sue for an accident if you are not hurt. This is because under New York’s insurance laws, you cannot sue for personal injury after a car accident unless you sustain a “serious injury.”

Serious injuries may include the following:

  • Fractures
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Dismemberment, loss of a body organ or system
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Significant limitation or permanent loss of the use of a body function
  • Death.

In addition, any medically determined impairment or injury that prevents an injured person from performing substantially all of the person’s daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the car accident may be considered a serious injury.

However, there are situations where you were not injured and still can bring a lawsuit. Even if you suffered no physical injuries during an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you could still recover property damages. Your vehicle and other property, such as an expensive watch, a computer, or luggage and other possessions that were in your car, can still be severely damaged even if you weren’t hurt, and the cost of repairing that damage or replacing these items and a vehicle can be immense.

You also have the right to pursue legal action in situations where your property damage exceeds the limits of the insurance policy, if an insurance company refuses to agree to a fair settlement or if the negligent party denies causing the collision.

An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your individual situation and determine if you can bring a lawsuit even if you are not hurt.

Get Legal Assistance After Being Hit by a Car

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or sustained damages, or if someone has died after being hit by a car in New York, don’t take the chance of leaving money on the table. The experienced New York car accident attorneys at Tucker Lawyers PC are here to help. We have won large settlements and jury awards on behalf of clients who have been injured in car accidents, and we are fully prepared to handle investigations, legal hurdles, negotiations, and court requirements to see that you get the compensation you deserve for what you’ve been through.

We take a client-first approach and offer a free consultation to evaluate your case and determine the best way to handle it. We work on a contingency basis, so there is no cost to you unless or until we win your case. Our priority is getting you the help you need to get you back on the path to wellness and financial wholeness.

Call a dedicated, trustworthy NYC car accident lawyer today at (516) 399-2364.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

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