Victims of car accidents frequently suffer debilitating injuries that leave them incapacitated for a long time. They may also incur significant medical expenses and lose income from being unable to work after their accident. But car accident victims can obtain monetary compensation for their injuries.
To maximize the monetary recovery you receive in your car accident case, you need an experienced Queens car accident attorney advocating for you each step of the way.
Most car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney does not get to collect a fee unless and until they recover monetary compensation for the accident victim by way of a favorable settlement or litigation result. The attorney will take a percentage of the accident victim’s gross recovery as their attorney’s fee. If the accident victim does not recover any monetary damages, then the lawyer is not entitled to take a fee.
Before entering an appearance in your case, a prospective lawyer will have you sign a contingency fee agreement, or CFA. This agreement will determine how the attorney will receive payment at the end of the case and the percentage they will collect. In many circumstances, the attorney may obtain a higher fee if they litigate your case and take it to trial, instead of settling it out of court.
Your lawyer can answer all of your questions about the CFA. Once you sign the agreement, your attorney can begin advocating for you and pursuing the monetary recovery you deserve for your car accident injuries.
Types of Car Accidents and Their Causes
Car accidents frequently happen when other drivers behave recklessly or carelessly. When drivers are not careful and violate traffic laws, they are more likely to cause a severe accident, resulting in debilitating injuries and significant property damage.
Some of the most common types of car collisions that happen when people drive negligently include:
- Head-on collisions, where a vehicle traveling in one direction strikes the front of a car that is traveling in the opposite direction
- Tailgate accidents, where the front of one vehicle hits the rear bumper of another vehicle
- Rollover accidents, where a vehicle overturns in the middle of the road, potentially bringing about a series of subsequent collisions
- Broadside or T-bone accidents, where a driver negligently fails to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle, causing the front of their car to hit the side of the other vehicle
- Sideswipe accidents, where two vehicles traveling in the same direction brush up against one another
In many circumstances, car accidents happen when other drivers are careless or reckless under the circumstances. One of the most common causes of traffic accidents is traffic law violations.
Common violations that lead to accidents include:
- Excessive speeding.
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles at the proper times.
- Failing to use turn signals.
- Failing to use backup cameras and other electronic devices on vehicles when appropriate.
In addition to these traffic law violations, a severe traffic accident may happen when a driver operates their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Intoxicating substances may severely alter a driver’s mindset and cause them to experience both mental and physical impairments. For example, some drivers might experience confusion and disorientation that prevents them from operating their vehicle safely. They may also experience delayed reflexes and reaction time, preventing them from stopping their car in time to avoid a crash.
Physical symptoms often include blurred vision, which may prevent the driver from seeing other vehicles or cause them to swerve in and out of busy traffic.
Other car accidents happen when drivers ignore the road. Instead of watching the road, a driver might be looking at a vehicle passenger, listening to loud music, programming their GPS navigation system, combing their hair, applying make-up, adjusting the volume on their stereo, or reading a text message on their cell phone.
All of these activities can cause a driver to take their eyes off the road and may prevent them from seeing another vehicle in the vicinity.
Finally, some car accidents happen when drivers exhibit various forms of road rage. For example, a driver may become angry when other vehicles do not move fast enough for their liking. As a result, an angry driver might honk their horn, speed around other cars, cut other vehicles off in busy traffic, or weave in and out of traffic without using their turn signal. All of these aggressive driving maneuvers may lead to a single accident or a series of collisions with multiple vehicles.
If you suffered injuries in a traffic accident that a negligent driver caused, you must speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can explore various legal options with you and select the best course of action for your personal injury case.
Your attorney can also file an insurance claim with your own insurer or pursue a third-party personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, depending on your case circumstances.
How Much Compensation Will I Recover in my Car Accident Case?
As with the injuries that an accident victim suffers, the monetary compensation they receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of their individual case. Generally, the more severe an accident victim’s injuries, the higher the monetary recovery they can obtain.
Since New York is a no-fault state, car accident victims must usually turn to their own insurance company and make a claim under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy.
By filing a PIP claim, an accident victim can receive monetary compensation (up to the available policy limits of coverage) for all their related lost income and medical expenses. They can also recover monetary damages for home maintenance and transportation.
To recover additional monetary damages, including compensation for intangible losses, the car accident victim must file a third-party personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
To file a third-party liability claim, the accident victim must suffer a threshold injury, such as a permanent injury, disability, or disfigurement. One common type of permanent injury that accident victims may suffer is a broken bone.
As part of a third-party personal injury claim, the accident victim must establish their legal burden of proof to recover monetary damages. In other words, they must show that the other driver was negligent under the circumstances and that they acted unreasonably. They must also demonstrate that this negligence caused their car accident and that they suffered at least one physical injury as a direct result of their accident.
A car accident attorney in your area can retain one or more experts to help you satisfy your legal burden of proof in a third-party claim. For example, your lawyer might retain an accident reconstructionist who can establish the fault element of your case. In addition, your lawyer may retain a medical provider to causally relate your claimed injuries to the car accident.
In a third-party personal injury claim, accident victims can receive monetary damages for all of their:
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Anticipated medical costs
- Lifetime care costs
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Loss of spousal consortium and companionship
- Loss life enjoyment
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Physical pain and suffering (both past and future)
Your car accident lawyer can determine the likely value of your case so you can make informed and intelligent legal decisions at every stage of the process.
Filing a Claim With the Appropriate Insurance Company
A skilled car accident attorney in your area may file a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf. Whether you are filing a PIP claim with your own insurer or a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, the types of documents that your attorney will need to submit are similar.
Those documents include copies of the police report, medical treatment records, statements from eyewitnesses, photographs of your injuries, medical bills, property damage photographs, and any other documents pertaining to the facts and circumstances of your case.
The insurance company adjuster will review these documents and possibly make a settlement offer to resolve your case out of court.
Even when dealing with your own insurance company, you should be hesitant about accepting first-time settlement offers from adjusters. Insurance companies, after all, are not genuinely interested in helping you or awarding you fair monetary damages for your injuries.
Instead, they only want to settle your case for as little compensation as possible and keep their money in-house. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and pursue a fair settlement offer that genuinely compensates you for your injuries.
Personal Injury Litigation in the Courts
In a third-party personal injury claim, your lawyer can negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company representative for a fair settlement offer. However, if the insurance company does not make you a reasonable offer to settle your case, your attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf in court.
Even after filing a lawsuit, your case might still settle. However, your legal matter will become subject to the court’s control, and you must follow various deadlines.
During litigation, your attorney can handle the discovery process. For example, your attorney may answer written interrogatories from the defense attorney on your behalf and represent you during a discovery deposition. Before the deposition, your lawyer will thoroughly prepare you and anticipate the questions the defense attorney will likely ask.
Suppose your case does not reach a resolution through settlement. In that case, your lawyer can represent you at a civil jury trial, introduce evidence on your behalf, and make a convincing closing argument in your case. You can also pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options, like mediation or binding arbitration, instead of taking your case to trial.
Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Right Away
Following a car accident, time is of the essence. Therefore, retain a skilled attorney as quickly as possible. Your attorney can answer your questions before you sign a contingency fee agreement. After signing the contract, your lawyer can begin advocating on your behalf.
During settlement negotiations, your Queens personal injury lawyer will aggressively pursue the most monetary recovery available to you in your case. If you can pursue litigation, your attorney will represent you at all legal proceedings and work to maximize the total monetary damage award you receive for your injuries.