Now that New York stay-at-home orders have been lifted, drivers are back on the road again. But if you’ve gotten behind the wheel lately, you may have noticed that New York roadways seem even more dangerous than usual. Whether this is due to tensions running high from pandemic-related stress, or simply because people aren’t used to driving, speeding, reckless driving, and other unsafe maneuvers appear to be happening more than ever.
The worst part about this is that these very maneuvers are the ones that are most likely to result in serious accidents. In fact, in their most recent report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission reported that speeding is the top cause of fatal car accidents across the nation, accounting for 26 percent of fatal accidents. Drunk driving, distracted driving, failure to yield, and driving in the wrong lane are other top causes of fatal and serious accidents.
While car accident rates declined during stay-at-home, with so many drivers on the road again, we’re likely to see a sharp increase in serious accidents. And unfortunately New York laws can make it difficult to be fairly compensated after a major accident, even when your injuries are severe. Below I’ll tell you more about seeking compensation after a serious accident and when a New York car accident lawyer can help.
Problems With Compensation After a Major Accident
Getting fair compensation after a serious accident can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Insurers that refuse to pay, issues with New York no-fault rules, and problems proving a serious injury can all make getting paid what you deserve so you can afford your medical bills difficult. I’ll tell you how to deal with these scenarios below.
Insurers Refusing to Pay
Having to live with serious and life-altering injuries after a major accident is hard enough, but for many people getting their insurance company to pay for medical expenses is just as stressful. We’d all like to believe that insurance companies are on our side and want to do right by us after an accident, but the reality is that insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying in full for your medical bills and other expenses. Since serious injuries are more expensive for insurers to cover, this unfortunately makes them even less likely to offer you a fair amount. This has actually been compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic as insurance companies face serious financial difficulties. While it’s certainly not acceptable, this has made lowball offers and a refusal to negotiate even more common.
If you are struggling to get your insurance company to pay what they owe you, don’t back down in the face of a lowball offer. NEVER accept any offer that is too low. If you have tried negotiating and aren’t making progress with your insurer, it is a good idea to work with a New York car accident lawyer with experience in serious injury cases. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have dealt with hundreds of these cases over the years, and are familiar with the tactics insurers use to avoid paying. This gives us an edge when negotiating with insurers.
Problems with New York No-Fault Insurance
Another complicating factor in accident compensation is that New York’s no-fault insurance rules can prevent you from suing if your injury isn’t deemed serious enough. Under New York law, you cannot file a lawsuit right away, even if you personally consider your injuries severe. You must first go to your insurance company for compensation, whether the accident was your fault or not.
Your insurance can reimburse you for:
- Medical bills
- Psychiatric treatment
- Physical therapy
- Lost earnings of up to $2000 per month (for up to 3 years)
- Up to $25 per day for any additional expenses incurred due to the accident (for up to one year)
As far as the total amount of compensation you can recover from an insurance company in New York after an accident, the limit is $50,000. But as you can imagine, injuries that happen due to serious accidents often result in far costlier medical bills and other expenses. In this case, you may be able to sue the responsible party for additional damages, but only if your injury is considered serious under New York law. Here are some examples of what is considered serious:
- Dismemberment or major disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Loss of an organ, function, or system
- Inability to use a specific organ or member (either permanently or significantly)
- A non-permanent injury or impairment that prevents you from performing your usual daily activities for 90 of the 180 days immediately after the injury occurred
In addition to meeting one of these criteria, you must have a doctor’s documentation, which includes medical testing and diagnosis. You will also have to present medical evidence documenting any significant daily activities you could not perform for your injury to qualify as serious under the 90/180 day rule. This process can be incredibly intense, especially when you are trying to recover from injuries. If your injuries qualify as serious, it is in your best interest to get legal help from a car accident lawyer in New York as soon as possible.
Issues Proving Serious Injuries
While an insurance company may pay for losses related to a minor injury if your doctor submits a brief statement or diagnosis, the process of proving a serious injury is far more complicated. If your case goes to court because your injury qualifies as serious, you can expect the struggle to become even more difficult. In order to prove an injury, you’ll need to present clear evidence that your injury was caused by your accident. Your doctor or specialist will also have to fully explain the tests and other methods they used to determine the nature of the injury, and present their findings in detail. If you had any pre-existing injuries that happened before your accident, this could also complicate things, as opposing counsel may try to argue that your accident injury already existed and wasn’t caused by your accident.
Something to remember after a serious accident is that you should attend all medical treatment that is recommended to you. If you don’t, and your record shows gaps in your treatment, you could see yourself recovering less. In addition, if your doctor testifies, but they did not treat you throughout your recovery (for example, if you switched doctors), their reliability may be called into question by the court.
Once your case reaches the potential lawsuit stage, a lawyer is typically necessary to prove your case and get fair compensation.
When a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
As you can see, proving a serious injury after a car accident can be quite difficult. This is true whether you are simply trying to be compensated by your insurance company or by the person who caused your injuries. A good New York car accident lawyer will have the experience to help you get a better outcome than you could on your own.
Over the last 35 years, Buttafuoco & Associates has recovered more than $435 million for people whose lives have been altered by accidents, and we specialize in accidents that are serious. We believe in fighting for victims’ rights and helping you get the compensation you need to make the fullest possible recovery from your injuries. Consultations are always free, and can give you a clearer sense of your rights as well as the strength of your case.
Get in touch with us today to learn more at 1-800-NOW-HURT.