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I’ve Been Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident: What Do I Need to Know?

If I’m injured in a motor vehicle accident, who will cover my medical costs, lost wages, physical therapy and hospital bills, and funeral bills?

Every owner of a vehicle insured in New York has “no-fault” insurance. No-fault ensures that, regardless of fault, the following benefits are generally available to the driver, passengers of a vehicle and/or pedestrians struck by a vehicle, regardless of who was responsible for the accident:

  • Medical expenses up to $50,000;
  • 80% of lost earnings from work, up to a maximum payment of $2,000 per month for up to three years from the date of the accident;
  • up to $25 a day, for up to a year from the date of the accident, to reimburse other reasonable and necessary expenses, such as household help, and transportation expenses to/from medical treatment; and
  • a $2,000 death benefit (in addition to the $50,000 basic No-Fault limit), payable to the estate of a person who is killed in a motor vehicle accident.
There are time-sensitive processes that you must follow in order to pursue No-Fault coverage and to potentially file a lawsuit for further damages. Navigating this process by yourself is difficult, and serious mistakes could derail your case. You must have a competent, experienced NYC car accident attorney by your side to ensure your rights and your ability to receive compensation are both ferociously protected. Do not accept less than you deserve. Michael S. Lamonsoff and his team will fight for financial compensation for the full value of your lost wages and diminished earning capacity.

Can I bring a lawsuit for my injuries?

Yes. No-fault insurance is often only sufficient to cover your medical bills and lost wages in a minor accident. If you suffered an injury in a car accident in New York, you still have the right to file a lawsuit directly against the negligent driver of the other vehicle.

Every vehicle insured in New York is required by law to have at least $25,000 of liability insurance available to be paid to the victims of an accident. Some vehicles have far more insurance available. At MSL, collectively, we have over 100 years of experience recovering every last dollar of available insurance for our clients.

Never assume that you are prevented from filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident. An injury that initially appeared to be minor may quickly turn into a serious medical issue. Call our New York City car accident lawyers for a free, comprehensive review of your case. We will explain your legal rights, your options, and help you take action to get financial compensation.

Can I recover property damage to my vehicle?

Yes. The minimum insurance required by law is $10,000 for property damage. However, some vehicles have much more insurance. After being involved in a car accident, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney who can file a lawsuit to help you recover compensation for both property damage and any injuries you may have sustained.

How much does it cost to hire a car accident lawyer?

Any reputable personal injury law firm, including The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, will charge on a contingent basis. This means that if we take your case, you will incur no initial fees to retain our services, and you will pay zero fees throughout the litigation process--you will only pay once we win your case. Further, if you are in need of medical attention, we will advance the fees necessary so you don’t compromise your physical well-being. Similar to the attorney fees, these will be taken from your eventual compensation, allowing you to focus on your recovery and your loved ones, NOT the stress of money.

What should I do if an insurance company contacts me after my accident?

The best thing to do is to refer them to your attorney and do not sign any papers. At MSL, we have years of experience dealing with many different insurance companies and have relationships with most of them. Many motor vehicle accident victims have lost both benefits and potential lawsuit awards through mishandling of communication and information with insurance companies.

What if I am undocumented? What are my rights?

In New York, undocumented people have exactly the same rights as all other residents if they are injured in an accident. Undocumented immigrants have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit if they were involved in a car crash, and can recover for time missed from work, personal injuries, and even wrongful death. Your immigration status is protected by state law and cannot be used against you in Court. A person cannot be deported merely for filing a personal injury claim.

We at MSL have successfully represented many undocumented immigrants who were injured in automobile accidents, and believe that they deserve the same level of justice as any other person. Many of our clients do not speak English. If you or your loved one is an undocumented immigrant who was injured in a crash, call our New York City car accident lawyers for strictly confidential legal guidance.

If I’m partially at fault, can I still bring a lawsuit?

Yes. A negligent defendant will not be let off the hook just because you may not have been a perfect driver. Even if you believe that you were mostly to blame in an accident, a competent attorney will limit the percentage of your fault.

New York is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction, meaning that each party to the case will be held legally responsible in direct proportion to their share of the blame for the accident. You can still recover financial compensation even if you share some of the blame for your own accident. Do not assume that you are without rights simply because a police officer or insurance adjuster said that you were the “at fault driver.” Our NYC car accident attorneys will fight aggressively to make sure that all defendants who contributed to your collision are held legally liable for their share of the blame.

What if the vehicle involved, or the vehicle that struck me, doesn’t have insurance, or does not have enough insurance to cover my claim?

While all motorists are required to carry at least $25,000 worth of liability coverage in New York, not every driver complies with the law. By some estimates, as many as ten percent of drivers in New York City are currently uninsured or underinsured. Beyond no-fault coverage, you may also be able to file a claim against your own insurance company under an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/SUM) policy. UM/SUM is insurance coverage that you bought along with your own liability insurance before the accident happened.

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured vehicle, or a hit-and-run, you may be able to file an uninsured motorist claim. (UM) If you are involved in an accident with another vehicle that and has insurance, but does not have enough insurance to cover your claim, you will need to file a supplemental underinsured motorist claim. (SUM).

Both UM and SUM claims have numerous pitfalls, and you will need an experienced attorney to guide you through the process in order to ensure that you recover every dollar to which you are entitled.

How do I choose the right attorney to represent me in my lawsuit?

New York’s laws and insurance regulations are complicated. You need an aggressive, reliable attorney who has the skills, experience, knowledge, and passion to fight for you and your family. Michael S. Lamonsoff, “The Bull” and his team of trial-tested auto accident litigators are ready to take your case as far as it needs to go to get you the best results. There is no substitute for victory. Our team has recovered more than $500 million for clients—including some of the highest personal injury settlements and trial verdicts in New York’s history.

I was injured while riding a bicycle, as a pedestrian or some other accident where a car or truck was involved. What rights do I have in this situation?

New York City can be a dangerous place for pedestrians and bicyclists, which is why pedestrians and bicyclists are protected under our state’s no-fault insurance laws. Through a no-fault pedestrian accident or bike accident claim, you can seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages. It is crucial that you submit the paperwork as soon as possible.

Beyond a no-fault claim, you also have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible defendant. Most pedestrian collisions and bicycle accidents are caused by negligent drivers. Some of the most common examples of driver negligence in pedestrian/bicyclist accidents include:

  • Running red lights;
  • Running stop signs;
  • Speeding through crowded streets;
  • Distracted driving; and
  • Drunk or drugged driving.

Pedestrian accident claims are often complicated and confusing. From navigating no-fault insurance to seeking medical care to building a case for a lawsuit, it is easy to get lost in the system. You need a strong and aggressive attorney like “The Bull” Michael S. Lamonsoff on your side.

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Types of Compensation for Motor Vehicle Accident Victims

Following a motor vehicle accident, you need compensation to pay your bills and support your family. Sadly, recovering full and fair financial support is never easy. Many insurance companies attempt to pay out as little as possible—denying claims outright if they can get away with it. You need a knowledgeable attorney on your side who knows how to navigate the claims process and will fight for your rights. At the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC, our aggressive NYC car accident lawyers are committed to helping clients maximize their settlement or verdict. We take the time to explore every avenue for financial support. You may be entitled to recover money damages for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Permanent physical impairments;
  • Vehicle repairs or replacement;
  • Emergency room care;
  • Other medical bills and expenses;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future earning potential;
  • Scarring or disfigurement; and
  • Reduced quality of life.

Remember, New York’s basic no fault insurance only provides coverage for medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses up to the (relatively modest) policy limit. No fault insurance does not cover pain and suffering or other non-economic damages, and even navigating the insurance process itself can be extremely difficult. This is why it is so important to have a road-tested on your side, fighting for you. Our team of car accident lawyers in NYC can help you hold the negligent defendant(s) legally liable for the full extent of your damages.

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What to Do if You’re in a Motor Vehicle Accident

The scene in the aftermath of a car crash is often hectic and overwhelming. Unfortunately, some people make mistakes in the heat of the moment that undermine their ability to bring a successful claim. The good news is that you can protect your legal rights if you know what to do. Our comprehensive Auto Accident Kit can help you if you are involved in a collision. We encourage you to print out a copy and keep it in your glove compartment.

If you are involved in an accident, you should stop your car as close to the accident scene as is safely possible. Leaving the scene of an automobile accident is considered a crime for which you can be prosecuted. Remain at the scene of the accident until police arrive. Check your medical condition and that of any other occupants of the vehicle.

Call the police at the scene of the accident immediately and respectfully insist that they come to the scene and make a report. Inform them if you need an ambulance. Do not allow anyone, including the police, to convince you not to make the report. Wait for the police to arrive, even if they take an extremely long time. Filing a police report protects your rights. The police report is a vital piece of evidence for your case. If a report is not filed by the police, the consequences can be huge. A police report will help ensure that you are not later blamed for the accident. In addition, it will assist you if your insurance company attempts to raise your policy rate.

Beware of people who arrive at the accident scene and solicit you to go to a lawyer and/or doctor. They are scam artists who are paid by doctors and lawyers to illegally solicit you.

The Accident Information Diary located at the end of our Auto Accident Kit details the information you will need to protect your rights. In the event you are involved in an accident, make sure you fill out the diary completely.

Do not say anything at the scene of the accident that might be used against you later, such as “I am sorry.” While it is human nature to say such things, you may find out later that the accident was completely the fault of the other driver. Do not start a fight or altercation with the occupant(s) of the other motor vehicle. Such actions will only lead to further misfortune down the road.

When the police arrive, politely insist that they make a report. Remember, the police are very busy. They respond to thousands of accidents each year. Do not allow the police to convince you that you can file a report later. The police report protects your rights and can protect you from a rise in your insurance rate. If police present you with an MV104 Form and suggest you fill it out at a later time, decline. This is not a police form.

If your automobile needs to be towed, let the police call a tow truck. Get the name, address, and telephone number of the tow company before you allow them to take your car. Make sure you are aware of the towing and storage fees.

If you are injured, go to the hospital to have your medical conditions checked out. If you are in need of an ambulance, ask for one. If not, proceed to the hospital after providing all relevant information. If you are injured and do not go to the hospital, have your medical condition checked as soon as possible.

Call a lawyer! Your lawyer can advise you about how to protect your rights and what your responsibilities are. You should get the advice of a lawyer before you call your own insurance company. Your lawyer will also take statements from any witnesses before their memories grow dim. Finally, you have a very short timeframe in which to file certain applications with your insurance company. For these and many other reasons, it is imperative to contact your lawyer as soon as possible.

Statute of Limitations for Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

The statute of limitations (time limit imposed by law) in New York for motor vehicle accident injuries is three years in most cases, although it can be much shorter. For example, the statute of limitations involving an accident with a city bus is one year and 90 days, and a claim must be presented to the municipality within 90 days of the accident occurring. The clock starts ticking on the date the accident occurred.

Immediately, most people are well aware of being injured in an accident. However, some types of injuries are not always apparent right away but may cause symptoms that only become known over time. That is why it is best to protect your rights immediately and contact an attorney as soon as an accident occurs.

If you have been involved in an accident and believe you may have a case, it is best to speak with an attorney immediately. Crucial evidence may be lost if you wait too long to start an investigation.

Understanding No Fault Insurance in NYC

New York has unique auto insurance regulations. As noted by the New York Department of Financial Services, every vehicle must carry no fault and liability insurance. Basic no-fault insurance is often known simply as ‘personal injury protection’ or PIP coverage. In New York, A typical no-fault policy can provide up to $50,000 for injuries and lost wages.

No-fault coverage not only covers drivers who are injured in an accident, but also passengers and even pedestrians who are struck by a car. To be clear, PIP insurance does not cover property damage or non-economic losses. Further, these policies are also subject to certain exclusions. For example, motorcyclists are not eligible for no-fault benefits in New York.

As basic no-fault insurance is often insufficient to offer full financial protection to injured victims, many people opt to purchase supplemental insurance. Many drivers opt for an umbrella policy—which is essentially additional liability insurance that goes beyond the limits of a typical no-fault policyholder’s coverage.

Joint and Several Liability and New York Car Accidents

New York follows the ‘joint and several liability’ rule for car accident claims. This is very important as it can be to the benefit of the injured victims. In some cases, multiple defendants or multiple insurance companies may be responsible for your injuries. New York’s comparative negligence laws states that each defendant is liable for their ‘share’ of the fault. However, under the joint and several liability standard, one defendant can be required to pay for the full amount of the jury verdict if the other defendant is unable to pay their share.

Here is the bottom line: Joint and several liability is a powerful legal tool that plaintiffs can use to hold large insurance companies accountable in court. You are not necessarily out of luck simply because you are running up against one defendant’s policy limits. At the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC, our New York City car accident lawyers know how to use all tools available under the law to get our clients the full damages they rightfully deserve.

Different Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Our trial-tested New York personal injury lawyers have the skills and knowledge to assist you with the full range of motor vehicle accident claims. No matter the nature and severity of your injuries, we are ready to fight to get you justice, accountability, and the full financial support you deserve. Our law firm handles more than just passenger car collisions. We have the experience to assist you with:

Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in NYC

While car accidents happen for a wide variety of different reasons, most of them share an important characteristic: they could have been prevented with proper safety precautions. According to government data, nearly 95 percent of traffic collisions happen because of human error. Some of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in New York City include:

  • Speeding;
  • Tailgating;
  • Running red lights;
  • Running stop signs;
  • Failure to yield;
  • Unsafe lane changes;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Texting while driving;
  • Reckless or aggressive driving;
  • Drunk driving; and
  • Drugged driving.

“Serious Injury” in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

New York’s serious injury threshold is one of the most important concepts in car accident claims. Under state law, you have the legal right to go beyond your no-fault coverage and file a lawsuit directly against a negligent defendant if you suffered a serious injury in a crash.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is assuming that their injuries are simply “not serious” enough to file a personal injury lawsuit. Many car accident injuries are more severe than people initially realize: a lesser injury can easily become a serious injury over time. Always explore your options with a professional.

Statistics: NYC Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of injuries in New York City. According to the New York Police Department (NYPD), there were 9,589 car accidents reported in August of 2020 alone. Collectively, these collisions resulted in 4,606 injuries and 20 confirmed fatalities. Auto accidents occur for a wide range of different reasons. The leading cause cited by the NYPD was distracted/inattentive driving. Other common causes include unsafe passing or improper lane usage, tailgating, failure to yield, and speeding.

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