1. What should I do if I have just been in an automobile accident?
At the scene of the accident, obtain the name, address, license number and insurance information from the other drivers involved, as well as all witnesses. (If you have a cell phone, you can take pictures of license, registration and insurance cards at the scene. Take photos of the damaged vehicles and their location.) You should report the accident to the police immediately. If possible, you should ask police respond to the scene. Report the accident to police at the scene. We have known people who have unfortunately not reported accidents to the police within the first 24 hours and have been denied bringing a claim for injures.
Seek treatment immediately for your injuries. Sometimes serious injuries do not cause immediate pain. If you experience even minor pain after an accident, you should go to the emergency room or see your doctor. We have known people who refused medical attention at the scene of an accident and even refused to see any doctor for months. These same people had sustained injuries that required surgery later on, but there was no way to prove the injuries they claimed came from their accident.
2. An insurance adjuster for the other driver just called me, and asked me to give a “tape recorded statement” about the accident, what should I do?
The other driver’s insurance company has two goals: first, they want to protect the interests of the driver who caused your injury, and second, they want to pay you as little money as possible.
You are under no obligation to give a statement. If someone is injured in the accident or there is property damage exceeding $1,000, you are obligated to fill out a MV-104 accident report file it with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If people have collision coverage on the auto insurance policy, then ee advise clients to make a collision claim. When you make a collision claim, your insurance company fights for you to get back your deductible from the other driver’s insurance company.
If you were injured and partially or totally at fault in the accident, you should contact a lawyer prior to deciding whether to give a statement to an insurance company.
We have known clients who have come to us after they gave a statement to an insurance company and they have been tricked into making admissions that have hurt their personal injury case later on.
3. I have been injured, who will pay my medical bills?
New York is a “No-Fault” state, which means that your car insurance pays for your medical benefits and lost wages. If you are driving someone else’s car or are a pedestrian, you should consult with an attorney so that you know which insurance company will pay medical expenses and lost wages.
It is important to notify the insurance company within 30 days after the accident. We have represented clients who have come to us months after an accident and have been unable to get medical bills or lost wages because they did not put the right insurance company on notice of the claim.
4. Who will pay for the damage to my car?
A collision endorsement on your car insurance will pay to have your car fixed. Collision coverage will pay you the value of the vehicle as a total loss. If you are not at fault in the accident, your insurance company will seek to be reimbursed by the insurer of the driver at fault and will obtain any deductible you may have paid from the other insurance company.
If you do not have collision insurance, and you are not at fault, the insurer of the driver at fault should pay for your property damage.
5. Who will pay for a rental car while my car is being repaired?
Some insurance policies provide for rental payments when your car is being repaired.
If you did not purchase this type of insurance, you can make a claim against the other driver’s car insurance. this claim is called “loss of use.” The insurance company for the at-fault driver will be liable for rental car fees while your car is being repaired.
6. Can I get compensation for my pain and suffering?
Most insurance companies will not voluntarily agree to pay for pain and suffering damages. Recovery for personal injuries often requires witness statements and doctor reports to support the claim. Experienced attorneys will know how to prove the claim and what is a fair settlement.
7. My accident was a short time ago, but the insurance company is offering me money now, should I take it?
Be very careful. Insurance companies make a profit by keeping money and investing it, not by paying it to injured victims. An early offer may not fully compensate you for your injuries. A doctor should evaluate you to determine the extent of your injuries. Remember, once you accept the offer of the insurance company, they will pay you no further money. This will be true, even if you find out later that your injury is worse than you thought.
8. If I hire a lawyer, what will the lawyer do for me?
Your lawyer should thoroughly investigate your accident. He should obtain statements from witnesses and police reports He should help you make claims for your medical bills and lost wages A lawyer would help you have your car repaired and advise you about the value of your claim. A lawyer will take your case to trial if it is necessary in order to obtain fair compensation for you.
9. If I hire a lawyer, how do I pay him or her?
Attorneys will take car accident cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that the attorney will take a percentage of your recovery. In New York, the amount of the fee is 33 1/3%.
Our office will not charge any fee to meet with people to determine if they have a case. We will also help you process your no-fault claim for medical benefits and lost wages at no additional charge.