When Do You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident in New York?

Statistics state there were over 4.2 million automobiles registered in New York in 2020. Unsurprisingly, therefore, car accidents are a common occurrence in the state.

If you’ve been involved in a collision and you believe the other party was at fault, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, you may need legal assistance to secure it. This post looks at the different considerations that will be relevant to you in this regard.

Understanding the Importance of Legal Representation in New York Car Accidents

A lawyer will be able to assist you in a number of crucial ways following a car accident; there is potentially much more involved than just fighting your case in a courtroom.

The first job of an injury attorney in relation to motorcycle crashes, especially in the context of a motorcycle crashes, is often to decide whether there is a reasonable basis for pursuing a case against another motorist or their insurance company. This involves looking at all the available evidence, including from the scene of the collision, reports on the vehicles involved, and any medical records that are relevant to the incident.

A lawyer will also be able to offer counsel when it comes to the insurance claims process. Getting claim forms right can be tricky, and making mistakes can damage your chances of emerging from a claim with a fair settlement. Though you may be tempted to fill out and return these forms unaided, it’s usually a better idea to consult with a lawyer first.

An attorney will also be able to help you distinguish between general and special damages and advise you on the quantity of each you may be able to recover. This distinction is discussed in more detail below.

You should note that state law requires you to file an accident report in relation to any incident that causes personal injury or death or that brings about $1,000 worth of property damage to any one individual. Should you fail to do so within 10 days of an accident, the DMV may suspend your license pending the submission of a report. If you’re not sure how to approach the report, your lawyer will be able to assist you.

When Do You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident in New York?

Knowing when to hire a car accident lawyer isn’t always straightforward. If the other party to the incident cooperates with you and the insurance claims process appears straightforward, you may not see the need for an attorney. That said, it’s almost always a good idea to seek legal counsel following a car accident in New York, especially when you’ve suffered an injury or your property has been damaged.

The help of a lawyer is especially important when the insurance claims process gets complex. Insurance companies often deliberately make their policy documents confusing in the hope that claimants make mistakes. This may allow them to delay payments on valid claims or refuse to pay out altogether.

If you submit a claim only to have an insurance company reject it, you’ll need the assistance of an expert attorney to mount a legal challenge to this decision. Though it’s possible to represent yourself in court in a New York car accident case, it’s almost never advisable.

Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?

Some people who go through car accidents choose not to enlist legal help if theirs was a minor collision or if they didn’t sustain serious injuries. However, this is often a risky decision.

As a car accident victim, you may sustain an injury that doesn’t become obvious right away. Concussions, for instance, can exist without causing symptoms for a number of days, but their long-term health impact can be devastating. Also, some orthopedic issues may seem minor at first but can get progressively worse and severely limit your quality of life over time. The longer you wait to contact a lawyer after a car crash, the worse your chances of recovering damages for issues like these become.

At a minimum, you should always exchange driver information with others involved in the accident, take photos of the vehicles that were involved, and visit your physician as soon as you can. That way, if you decide to seek legal help later, you’ll have the evidence you need to back up your claim.

New York Is a “No Fault” State. What Does That Mean?

In “no fault” states, such as New York, each driver’s own insurance company is responsible for paying their medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who caused the accident. Every driver who takes a vehicle on the road in New York must have a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy that will cover at least $50,000 in medical expenses following an accident. The only exception here is if a vehicle owner can prove they have the financial means to cover this level of cost themselves.

You should note that this principle only extends to damages arising from measurable economic losses (known as special damages). These include most medical expenses, lost wages, incidental expenses related to the accident, and a death benefit in cases where a life is lost in an accident. The no-fault rules do not, however, cover general damages. These are losses that do not have a definite monetary price tag; they mostly relate to physical or emotional discomfort, which is why they’re sometimes called “pain and suffering” damages.

Imagine you’re left unable to walk for three months after an accident. Your no-fault insurance coverage will reimburse you for any medical expenses you incur during recovery and any lost wages during this period as well. However, it will not compensate you for the distress of being unable to walk around your home, visit family and friends, or pursue your hobbies. These losses are only recoverable through general damages.

Wrongful Death Claims Arising From New York Car Accidents

If someone close to you loses their life in a New York car accident, you may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against another involved party to recover damages related to the loss of life. These damages may provide compensation for medical expenses incurred by a deceased person before their passing, funeral expenses, pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death, and loss of companionship suffered by those close to the deceased person. For a lawsuit of this type to succeed, your attorney will have to establish that the fatal accident came about due to the misconduct or negligence of the defendant in the case.

The legal doctrine of standing is important to be aware of here; not just anyone can file a wrongful death suit. In the state of New York, you are only entitled to sue for wrongful death if you are a spouse, parent, or child of the deceased person, or if you are their personal or court-appointed representative.

You should also know that, per Section 5-4.1 of New York’s Consolidated Law, you must commence a wrongful death action arising from a car accident within two years of the person’s death.

Why Choose Us?

If you’ve made the decision to contact a lawyer following a New York car accident, your next step is to decide whom to choose. The attorneys at Tucker Lawyers have decades of combined experience in helping clients navigate difficult situations, so we’re familiar with just about every situation that arises in New York car accident cases.

When you visit one of our offices, our first step is to conduct a needs assessment to ensure you get the help you require most urgently first. In some cases, this means we refer clients for medical assessments or treatment before starting work on the legalities of their case. Once we do start investigating your accident, our focus is on ensuring that you emerge with a settlement that will keep you financially stable and see you properly compensated for the difficulties you’re enduring.

Seeking Legal Help After a Car Accident in New York City

So, when do you need a lawyer for a car accident in New York? In some cases, it’s possible to navigate the insurance claims process without expert legal help. However, because of the gravity of the situation and the potential complications involved, it’s usually best to consult with an attorney after you’ve had a road accident of any kind.

Contact Tucker Lawyers today for a free initial consultation with one of our car accident attorneys. You can reach us on our website or on the phone 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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