Car accidents are quite scary. They often lead to injuries, and it only follows that whoever caused the accident should be responsible for the injuries. In New York, every driver is required to carry a No-Fault insurance, to ensure guilty parties pay for the injuries caused.
The No-Fault coverage provides coverage for lost wages and medical expenses for the victim, regardless of who caused the accident. Nonetheless, the No-Fault coverage might not be enough in some cases. When the victim is severely hurt and possibly permanently disabled, filing a lawsuit can provide the necessary compensation. It is best to seek the advice of New York truck accident injury lawyers.
Many people often want to know if they have a case after an accident. In many cases, the following questions should be answered to make the decision:
Who caused the accident?
Is the insurance coverage sufficient?
Were the injuries serious, as defined by the No-Fault Law of New York State?
Who Caused the Accident?
Identifying the guilty party in an accident is critical. This will ensure that you know exactly who you are bringing the lawsuit against. If you caused the accident, there’s no much point in filing the lawsuit. Once the person who caused the accident is identified, you need to establish whether the nature of your injuries meets the “Serious Injury Threshold,” which is a major prerequisite for successfully bringing a lawsuit for a non-economic loss like emotional suffering and pain.
Under the New York State Law, a serious injury is defined as an injury that:
• Results in death of the victim
• Causes severe disfigurement
• Leads to dismemberment (losing a limb)
• Results in the loss of a fetus
• Causes a broken bone
• Leads to a permanent loss of the use of a body organ, function, member, or system; such as permanent nerve damage, lost range of a limb, blindness, etc.
In this case, if the injury you incurred does not meet these conditions, a lawsuit for pain and suffering won’t be applicable for you. However, medical treatment and lost wages would still be covered under the No-Fault insurance.
Nonetheless, if your injury falls under any of those categories as defined by the law, then you should consider filing a lawsuit. Plus, you will still get the No-Fault insurance compensation for a specified amount, to cover the medical bills and lost wages. The lawsuit will allow you to sue for any medical care charges and lost wages that go beyond the No-Fault coverage, along with the compensation for your lost future wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses that have not been accounted for under the No-Fault Insurance.
Assuming that another party caused the accident, and you have incurred a serious injury, the issue would be whether the insurance coverage is sufficient. A lawsuit will be effective only if there’s money to be collected at the end. According to the New York State Laws, the insured vehicle should carry at least $25,000 for any bodily harm caused by the guilty driver.
You can potentially win over $10,000,000 with a jury verdict, but if the driver who caused the accident didn’t have any insurance or personal assets, then you may never see a dollar of it. As such, you need to make sure that there’s money to go after before you start stressing yourself with the expenses of filing a lawsuit.
Here are some of the compensatory damages available in personal injury cases:
The cost of medical care associated with the accident is included in a personal injury damages award. This entails the reimbursement for the cash you have already spent on treatment, and the estimated cost of any form of medical care you need in the future due to the accident.
You could also be entitled to compensation for the impact of the accidents on your wages and salary. This not only includes the income you have lost due to the injuries from the accident, but also the money you might have been able to make in future.
Lawsuit Process In New York
As we mentioned earlier, while car accidents can disrupt the lives of the involved parties, most of them are minor and only involve limited injuries and property damage. Nonetheless, some serious car accidents involve lawsuits, since damages exceed the insurance policy limits, or if there’s dispute with the issue of fault.
In a NY injury lawsuit, there are a few steps involved. While these steps may vary depending on the complexity of the case, the following are the common stages in a car injury lawsuit in New York:
The prelitigation stage is ideally the period before a lawsuit is brought to the courthouse. This stage involves collecting the necessary evidence including photos and videos immediately after the accident has occurred. A New York car accident attorney should then be contacted to collect and assemble the evidence relevant to your case, help you file a no-fault insurance claim; notify the party at fault of the potential claim, and to initiate negotiations for your fair compensation.
Litigation is the stage where the lawsuit if filed at the court. It involves the discovery process where the parties obtain the evidence from each other. The car accident attorney may want to interview any witnesses, the drivers, and the other people who may have pertinent information to the case in a deposition. This is then followed by a trial here a jury hears the case. Finally, there is the resolution phase where the jury decides, and a judgment is reached, or both parties agree to a settlement.
3. Damages Recovery
There might be difficulty obtaining the compensation, even when the victim wins the case. But an expert New York Car Accident Lawyer can help make sure that the client receives the maximum compensation possible.
Will Your Case Go to Trial?
It’s quite difficult to tell for sure, but it’s quite likely that it will not. In many cases, the parties settle out of court, rather than risking losing the trial. Through a settlement, you will have a guaranteed payout. It also means that the attorneys won’t have to prepare for battling it out on the court, which is often a stressful and expensive phase of pursuing a claim. The settlement ensures that both parties dropped the lawsuit and sought a mutually agreeable settlement while putting the terms of it in writing.
The New York State doesn’t require a mandatory settlement conference or other litigation alternatives in car accident lawsuits unless it’s a case that involves claims for medical malpractice. However, local courts may vary, and a judge can only encourage or require such a conference informally or formally. It’s almost always given that your attorney will deliberate on the various settlement options with you and the other involved party, even without a judge’s help.
If the case is heard at a bench trial, only a judge can decide your case and will rule on which laws apply to your case, and if the evidence supports your side according to the law. During the jury trial, the judge will establish which laws are applicable, but it’s the jury’s task to decide what happened and if the stated facts meet the law requirements governing personal injuries.
Very few car accident lawsuit make it to trial. Much of this has to do with the fact that at any point of the trial, the defense can opt to settle the case directly with you. Although the attorney can help you establish how likely you are to prevail in the case, it’s up to you to decide whether you will accept the settlement or not.