Frequently Asked Car Accident Questions
Q. What Should I Do After A Car Accident?
The moments after a crash can be hard to process. You may be in pain, shock or worried about the lives of your loved ones. It’s important to keep a level head, as much as you can. What you do now is essential to your full recovery in the future.
Your health and safety is always the first priority. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately and provide the details of your location. Then call the police and file an accident report. Never include any statements that speak to who was responsible for the crash.
After an accident, questions of liability should be investigated by an experienced personal injury attorney.
To learn the 9 essential steps that every accident victim should follow to strengthen an injury claim, visit our Accident Scene Questions guide here.
Q. Do I Have To Tell My Insurance Company?
Yes. Most auto insurance policies include a clause that requires you to report a car accident as soon as possible.
When you do, relate only the facts of your crash, without making any statements about fault or responsibility. Your insurer could use such statements to deny you coverage or benefits in the future.
New York State law requires you to report an accident to your insurer within 30 days of the incident.
Q. Should I Call The Other Driver’s Insurer?
No. That is both unnecessary and inadvisable.
All communication between yourself and another person’s insurance company should run through an experienced personal injury attorney first. Any statement that even suggests your own responsibility for a crash can be used to limit your benefits.
Q. How Can No-Fault Insurance Affect Me?
New York is a “No-Fault Insurance” State. If you own a vehicle here, you are required to purchase this coverage.
Q. How Does New York’s No-Fault System Work?
After an accident, your insurance company must cover medically-necessary expenses without regard to responsibility. In other words, you’ll still be compensated, even if your own negligence caused the crash.
Liability does come into play, but behind the scenes.
New York’s No-fault system was intended to keep personal injury claims out of court, by ensuring that injury victims received at least some compensation.
But while they’re paying out your benefits, your insurance company will be investigating the accident thoroughly. If they can prove that the other driver was at fault, they can demand reimbursement from that person’s auto insurance company.
Q. How Much Auto Insurance Do I Need?
Each automobile in the State must carry a minimum of $50,000 of insurance for each occupant in the event of an accident.
The no-fault policy on an automobile will usually cover pedestrians or cyclists struck by that automobile, as well.
Q. What Benefits Will My Insurance Pay For?
If you are injured, your initial expenses will be paid out from your No-Fault insurance policy. This coverage pays for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages – 80% of your gross monthly wages, with a maximum of $2,000 every month
- Other medically-necessary expenses – including ambulance fees, prescriptions and diagnostic tests
Your insurance will also cover some out-of-pocket expenses. If you have to take a taxi to the hospital for a rehab session, save the receipt.
Passengers injured in a car accident can also file a No-fault claim, through the insurance policy covering the car in which they were riding.
Q. What Happens When My Insurance Runs Out?
Once you’ve hit the hard limit of your no-fault plan, you may still require further treatment. Your insurance company is not required to pay for this.
In this case, you’ll have to consider filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance. As we mentioned, this can be extremely hard, if not impossible, to accomplish. Insurance companies do not want to pay for your recovery.
Q. What If The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 12.6% of America’s motor vehicles were uninsured in 2012.
With its stringent insurance system, New York State is considerably lower. Here, only 5.3% of drivers have no insurance on their automobiles. But that still means that 1 out of every 20 cars you pass is uninsured.
In New York, you are required to purchase unninsured motorist coverage (UIM) that will kick in if you are injured in an accident with a vehicle that has no insurance. UIM may also be able to help if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident.
If your UIM coverage is still not enough, your only remaining option for compensation is to sue the other driver for negligence.
Still have questions about New York’s insurance system? Find an answer in our “Insurance Company Questions” guide here.
Q. What Is The Statute Of Limitations In New York?
New York State gives you three years after the date of your accident (or, alternatively, after the appearance of injuries) to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Three years might sound like a lot of time, but you should never wait that long. Most of the evidence critical to your case case disappear much quicker.
Q. Do I Need A Lawyer?
Every car accident is already a legal situation, whether or not you plan on filing a lawsuit. Even making an insurance claim with your own auto insurer is subject to complex legal protocols.
As the victim of a car crash in New York, you have specific rights. But are you thoroughly aware of those rights?
Unfortunately, most insurance companies make their profits off injury victims who are unaware of the complicated laws and precedents that define their legal rights.
The only way to ensure that your rights are respected, and you’re receiving the maximum compensation New York will allow, is to contact an attorney. With a personal injury lawyer’s help, you can decide whether insurance will be enough, whether you should pursue another driver’s insurance company, or whether a civil lawsuit may be the best way forward.
But you’ll never know until you call.
Q. Are My Injuries Serious Enough To File A Lawsuit?
That’s a question best left to your medical professionals and a lawyer. This step, defining your injuries, how much treatment will cost, and how long it will last, is called determining the “extent” of your injuries. Without a thorough investigation, we can’t answer any questions like “what are my injuries worth?” or “do I have a claim?”
With that being said, you can find more information on how to think about auto crash injuries here.
Insurance companies are particularly brutal on this point. They may even be able to hire their own doctors to independently assess your damages. If their doctors think that you no longer require treatment, your insurer can cut off your benefits in an instant. Even if their doctors are wrong.
Q. What If The Accident Was My Fault?
While you may feel a certain sense of responsibility for your crash, what do you actually know? Again, resolving questions of liability should be left to an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Only after a thorough investigation, that takes into account every shred of evidence, can you be sure why an accident happened.
But let’s say that you were partially liable for the accident. In New York, you can still win considerable damages, even if the court finds you somewhat negligent.
Under a legal doctrine called “Comparative Negligence,” juries can find both plaintiffs and defendants legally liable in the same case. If that happens, the court will determine how much each party was responsible. If they find you 25% liable, you can still be awarded 75% of the damages you demanded in the case.
Q. How Much Will It Cost To Review My Case?
Our personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to all motor vehicle accident victims. Whether or not another person’s negligence led to your crash, we want to help you make the best decision.
Just call our attorneys or complete our contact form and you’ll be put in touch with an experienced auto accident lawyer at absolutely no cost and no obligation.
If you choose to hire Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. for your representation, our attorneys only charge on a contingency-fee basis. If we do not secure compensation for you, you owe us nothing.