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Q:Can I recover even if the accident was my fault?

A: Whether you can recover if the accident was your fault depends on the laws of your state. Some states do not consider fault with regards to some damages. Other states use the theory of “comparative negligence,” such asNew York. This means that your total settlement is reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if you are 50% at fault, then your total cash award may be reduced by 50%. However, your medicalbills should be paid regardless of your degree of fault. Our office regularly works with insurance carriers to negotiate these percentages in your favor, getting your the highest possible award.

Q: Who can I sue to recover my damages?

A: In some cases, an accident victim may be able to sue parties other than the at-fault driver. For example, if the at-fault driver did not own the car, the car’s owner may also be liable for your damages. If the at-fault driver wasimpaired from consuming too much alcohol, you may be able to bring a “dram shop” complaint against a business that served alcohol to the driver even though he was visibly impaired. In some cases, you may be able to bringan action against another party, such as an automobile manufacturer or construction company, if a defect in the vehicle or the roadway caused the accident. If the accident involved a tractor-trailer, the driver’s violation ofrules and regulations may be the basis for a lawsuit against the driver or his or her employer.

Q: If I am injured in a car accident, who will pay my medical bills?

A: In almost all cases, your medical bills will be paid by no-fault. In simple terms, no-fault is basically medical insurance that covers all passengers in a motor vehicle or even pedestrians that are hit by that vehicle. Every carinsured in the state of New York is required to have this type of coverage. Even if you are 100% at fault for the accident, you will be fully covered by no-fault – hence the term “no-fault.”

Q: Does no-fault only cover my medical bills?

A: NO, no-fault covers lost wages up to a specific dollar amount if you miss work due to your injuries. No-fault may even cover household help, out-of-pocket medical expenses, or mileage reimbursement. This area ofinsurance law is extremely complicated and you are advised to have an attorney handle your claim to avoid being denied. You should not rely on your insurance carrier for answers here. Our office handles hundreds ofno-fault claims each year, we can explain anything you need to know.

Q: What is my case worth?

A: The value of a case depends on a variety of factors and cannot be determined without analyzing information regarding the injury, medical bills, loss of income, and permanency of the injury. There is no rule of thumb, andeach set of facts results in a different amount of damages. You should be concerned if any lawyer tells you how much he can win for you. Often, lawyers make false representations just to get your case. You may be verydisappointed later down the road because they set your expectations too high

Q: What is my case worth?

A: Not necessarily. Many motor vehicle accident cases are concluded without even filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits are settled without an actual trial. A settlement avoids the costs and delay of a trial and may result in a greaternet recovery. However, if the case cannot be settled on satisfactory terms, it may be necessary to try it in court.

Q: Where will the money come from to compensate me?

A: The at-fault party’s insurance typically pays for your damages in many states. If you are in a no-fault state, your own insurance may pay for some of your damages. If the at-fault party is not adequately insured, your owninsurance policy may contain coverage that will compensate you for your injuries.

Q: How long will it take me to receive my money?

A: The length of time necessary to conclude your automobile accident injury case depends upon a number of factors. For example, if you received a serious injury, you do not want to settle your claim until you have receivedsufficient medical care so that either your physician has released you or your future medical expenses related to the accident can be determined with reasonable certainty. Therefore, the amount of time you need to heal maydetermine the length of time necessary to conclude your claim. The amount of time before you recover also depends on whether your case is settled or goes to trial.

Q: What should I do if I can’t afford an attorney?

A: Many law firms will agree to pursue a personal injury claim for a contingency fee, which means that the law firm’s fee is subtracted from any amount that the firm collects for you. If no amount is recovered, then thefirm receives no fee, but the client is typically responsible for actual expenses, such as court filing fees or witness fees, whether he or she wins or loses.

Q: Do I have to see a doctor?

A: If you are injured in an automobile accident, you should seek medical attention. Whether or not you have a claim, you should be examined by a doctor, both for your own peace of mind and to document the injury in orderto support your claim. Frequently, an automobile accident injury will not appear immediately. Whenever symptoms first appear, go to your family doctor, a hospital emergency room, or another medical professional to obtainmedical help.

Q: How soon must I bring my claim?

A: Typically, that time limit is 3 years from the date of the accident in New York. Each state sets a time period during which a person must bring a personal injury claim. Both the length of that period and the way it ismeasured in motor vehicle accident cases varies from state to state. Even within a state, the time period may vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, such as the plaintiff’s age, the type of personalinjury claim, the particular facts giving rise to the injury, and when the injury is discovered. You must be absolutely certain that you know the time limitation period that applies to you, or you risk jeopardizing your legalrights. For example, if you are dealing with a claim against a municipality or a transit authority, your time limit to file may be very short. In some instances, you must at least file a notice of claim within 60 days or less.Never assume that you have time. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to find out the proper time limit.

Q: Should I accept a check from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company?

A: Accepting a check may be construed as a settlement that prohibits you from obtaining any additional amounts from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company. Therefore, you should not accept a check or sign arelease from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company until after you have conferred with an attorney. Typically, an attorney will encourage you to wait to accept a check until you have completed your medicaltreatment and have been released by a doctor, so you know you have received an amount that adequately covers your medical bills and other damages. An insurance adjuster may push you to settle the claim for thelowest possible amount and may discourage you from contacting an attorney. If so, you should ignore his or her advice, and consult an attorney immediately before accepting any payment, signing any release, or otherwisesettling your claim to insure that you are receiving fair compensation and not jeopardizing your right to a full and fair recovery.

Q: The car that hit me, or the car that I was a passenger in had no insurance, now what?

A: You still may be eligible to receive full no-fault benefits, including lost wages. New York State has a system set up to cover these situations specifically. You may even recover a financial settlement for your pain and suffering through this system, the same as if the car did have insurance. Ouroffice handled many situations like this in the past and obtained substantial settlements from New York State for our clients.

Q: I was in a car accident and I was not hurt that bad, do I still have a case?

A: You may. Many people feel they are not injured enough to file a claim. Quite often, our clients come to us with minimal injuries. After taking the proper tests, they learn that their injury is more severe than they thought.Contacting a lawyer and filing a claim costs you nothing but a little time. You should always explore every option, you may thank yourself that you did.