After suffering a car accident injury, it’s natural to worry to wonder how you’re going to pay for property damage to your car, medical bills, or be able to afford any ongoing medical needs or treatments. There are also lost wages to consider. Many car accident personal injury cases in New York are settled out of court, but other cases do go to trial and are heard by a judge and jury. If the other driver was negligent, you may be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
Many factors are involved when determining a settlement for a car accident case. You’ll want an experienced personal injury lawyer to stand with you as your advocate.
Types Of Personal Injury Occurring From Auto Accidents
The New York State Department of Health reports more than 12,000 New Yorkers are hospitalized every year after being involved in a car accident. Life for many car accident victims suffering severe, and even some minor injuries, is never the same. They have to endure ongoing medical treatments, including occupational or physical therapy. Some of the most common injuries caused by auto accidents include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Lacerations and broken bones
- Chest injuries
- Arm and leg injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Herniated discs
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Unfortunately, many of these types of injuries can take a long time to heal, and other types of injuries are permanent and/or life-altering.
Tragically, car accident-related injuries are only a part of the overall picture. State officials report there are about 1,100 unintentional motor vehicle traffic-related deaths occurring in New York every year. Families who lose a loved one in a distracted driving or drunk driving accident experience heartbreaking pain and suffering in a wrongful death situation.
What Does ‘No-fault’ Insurance Mean In New York?
New York State is one of a handful of states that is a “no-fault” car insurance state. In New York, this is also referred to as “Personal Injury Protection” (PIP) insurance. Passed by state lawmakers in 1974, no-fault car insurance was designed to lower the cost of auto insurance by removing small claims from courts.
How it works is insurance companies pay the costs directly to their own policyholders to cover items such as minor injuries, lost earnings, and medical bills up to $50,000, regardless of who caused the accident. There are some exceptions that can make a person ineligible for no-fault benefits:
- Driving while intoxicated or impaired with alcohol or drugs
- Intentionally causing an accident
- Getting into ATV or motorcycle accident as a driver or passenger (pedestrians who are
- hit are excluded from this exception)
- Injured while a felony was being committed
- Injured while knowingly driving or riding in a stolen car
- Owning an uninsured vehicle
Being in a no-fault insurance state doesn’t mean car accident victims lose the right to pursue a legal settlement for their injuries, personal property, or pain and suffering. If their case meets certain legal criteria determined by state insurance law, they can bring legal action against a person who causes injury or wrongful death in a motor vehicle accident. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s always a good idea to consult with a car accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure your accident claim rights are protected under New York State laws.
What Factors Affect A Car Accident Settlement’s Value?
There is no one-size-fits-all situation when it comes to car accident settlements. Out-of-court settlements from accidents can be negotiated by your attorney. If the case goes to trial, the jury will consider economic and non-economic damages, including punitive damages if the accident was caused by factors (i.e. reckless, drunk, or distracted driving) that could have been otherwise prevented. The following factors will be considered in cases being tried in court:
- Who caused the accident? In New York State, a percentage of an accident is usually assigned. In other words, it may be determined one party was 85% at fault while the other 15%. This is known as pure comparative negligence. This can affect the amount awarded in a settlement.
- What is the cost associated with medical treatment? Documentation associated with all medical expenses – during and after the accident – will have to be demonstrated.
- How much property damage was caused? A court of law will consider the monetary amount assigned to any property damaged in the car crash.
- How severe are any injuries? Settlements are largely determined by the severity of an injury. Serious, permanent, or chronic injuries will receive more money than a minor injury would.
Other factors looked at in trial include how much the other party’s insurance policy carries. If the person who created the situation that led to the car accident doesn’t carry high-value insurance coverage, a knowledgeable attorney can help determine if there are other ways to obtain an insurance claim or other revenue sources that enable the defendant to provide a payout.