From the blur of vehicles on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the peaceful and tree-lined acres that wind through the Queens Botanical Garden, car crashes, unfortunately, occur in Queens with great regularity.
In fact, throughout Queens county, traffic crashes are the fourth leading cause of deaths stemming from injuries. They are the second leading cause of hospitalization from injuries and the third leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits.
The facts are clear: on average, 8 Queens residents die in traffic accidents per month, and 114 end up in the hospital for the same reason.
But where do most car crashes in the borough occur? There are several different ways to answer the question. Some surveys have shown that most car accidents happen close to home, within five miles. Other studies have looked at areas where accidents take place.
Those show that a larger percentage of accidents occur in the following areas:
- Intersections. Some of the most dangerous places for drivers and occupants of vehicles. These are one of the places where drivers face each other directly, stop and start. Some drivers may not yield properly in an intersection. In four-way intersections, some drivers might notice drivers coming one way but not another. Others might try to run stop lights or beat a yellow or red light. Some drivers may operate a vehicle distractedly and not notice that an intersection is coming up. One of the most dangerous types of accidents, a T-bone, is most common in intersections.
- Parking Lots. Parking lots may seem unlikely places for a high number of accidents at first since people are driving slowly. But people are backing up and may not look appropriately behind them (approaching vehicles may not notice a car backing out). Some drivers try to beat others to available spaces and may practice unsafe driving. Others may be driving too fast. In addition, parking lots, unlike roads, have no real rules and signage about how fast you can drive and whether you have to stop or not. The result is an environment ripe for accidents.
- Stop Signs. Drivers may ignore stop signs or not stop, trying to pull out even with a car approaching. They may misjudge the speed of approaching vehicles. Drivers may misjudge their ability to turn left at a stop sign safely.
- Stop Lights. Like stop signs, stop lights are not always effective at getting people to stop and let other traffic through. Drivers may try to beat a yellow or red light or turn on a yellow in an unsafe manner.
- Highways. Motorists on highways can have head-on accidents if they pass unsafely or can be side-swiped if the highways are multiple lanes. Some of the higher percentages of highway accidents occur because more cars are on highways than on other roads, and the speeds increase. Speed is a leading indicator of a potential accident.
So which area is it? A close radius to home, or a specific area like an intersection or parking lot? Well, one theory about why most accidents happen close to home is that drivers do most of their driving there. After all, at least one end of nearly all car journeys is home. The five places identified above may constitute a greater danger within that close radius.
But the larger truth is this: car crashes can occur anywhere in Queens. Even a highly statistically unlikely car crash can happen while you are driving. Below our Queens car accident lawyers provide helpful information about your rights after a car crash in Queens.
Why Negligence Matters
Why does it matter who or what was responsible for a crash? It may matter to you if you want to pursue damages from the negligent party. Damages is the legal term for compensation paid to injury victims.
New York is a no-fault state. That means no one attempts to determine fault in an accident. You turn first to your own insurance coverage to pay medical bills related to injuries from a car accident. Your required car insurance includes personal injury protection (PIP). PIP will pay reasonable costs of medical care, 80 percent of wages lost up to $2,000/month, and up to $50,000 per person total. It also pays a death benefit of $2,000 to the estate of a deceased car accident victim.
But we all know that serious injuries can total more than $50,000 in medical bills and lost wages. Fortunately, New York law also provides that injury victims with certain serious injuries can step outside of the no-fault system. They can approach the negligent party for damages beyond their PIP coverage.
Those injuries are:
- Broken bone
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Substantially total disability for 90 days.
Stepping outside of no-fault allows you to seek compensation for medical expenses (both incurred and expected in the future), wages lost due to the accident and recovery, a lifetime value of earnings if the injuries render you unable to work, and pain and suffering. No pain and suffering benefits exist under PIP. You can also seek damages for property damage.
How Do I Seek Compensation?
Generally, accident victims seek compensation through the negligent party’s insurance carrier. You can also ask your insurance company to obtain compensation through the negligent party’s insurance carrier. It’s also possible to seek compensation directly from the negligent party.
If an insurance company refuses to settle fairly, your lawyer can take your case to civil court. You can also sue an individual in civil court.
What happens if you don’t know what or who caused the accident or who the negligent party was? These questions can arise in a serious accident where an accident knocks you unconscious or that involves multiple parties. A lawyer can help you in these circumstances, as they can collect evidence and examine the accident to help uncover why the accident occurred and who is liable.
But, if you wish to collect information before reaching out to a lawyer, you can:
- Looking up accident stats. seeking crash reports in New York State is relatively easy the state requires that motorists file a crash report for any accident causing property damage for $1,000 or more.
- Contact local law enforcement in the area where the accident occurred. If someone contacts officers, they will come out and issue a police report. You should obtain a copy of the police report, including information on the details of the accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
However, contacting an attorney is prudent in collecting this information. They can help you obtain the facts of the accident and investigate the causes to ensure they have all liable parties. If there is a question about who the insurance company is, they can also track that down.
What Can a Victim Do to Expedite an Insurance Claim After a Car Crash?
Contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible after an accident. Give them all the accident information, including what, when, and where. Have your policy number and other relevant information when you call. They will likely send an adjuster out.
Get other drivers’ contact information and insurance information. E-mail or phone numbers and the insurance carrier and policy number should be available. If you step outside of no-fault insurance, you will already have the information to contact the negligent party’s insurance company.
Then, it’s a good idea to document the accident and your injuries. Just as on television shows about police, evidence is critical. If you pursue a claim, the negligent party’s insurance company may question who or what caused the accident. They may accuse you. It’s, in fact, a common practice. They don’t want to pay out claims because that affects their profits. Remember that insurance companies, including yours, are for-profit businesses looking to pay as little as possible.
Document the accident by taking pictures if you have a smartphone with you. Take pictures of the vehicles, surrounding area, and anything that gives an idea of what caused the crash (i.e., skid marks or a street sign).
Document your injuries by taking pictures of them as soon as possible. Be sure to take pictures from all angles to show the full extent.
If you can, it’s also a good idea to collect eyewitness contact information. Eyewitness testimony can act as solid evidence to support your claim.
It’s also prudent to take notes about what happened and how you were injured when your memory is still fresh.
Documenting your injuries doesn’t stop with pictures, either.
Several other forms of evidence can prove valuable to you (as well as healing your injuries and preventing complications).
- First, get a check-up with your physician or an emergency room doctor, even if you don’t feel injured. Many injuries don’t present symptoms immediately. This check-up safeguards your health and precludes an insurance company using the fact that you didn’t see a doctor to argue, later, that you weren’t as injured as you say.
- Second, whether it’s from a doctor, hospital, emergency room, or another medical facility, follow all instructions to the letter. If they recommend medication or physical therapy, follow through and do it. Following their recommendations is your road to recovery. Plus, if you don’t, insurance companies will try to argue that your injuries are at least partly a result of your not following your doctor’s orders.
- Third, keep all medical records. Keep records of when and who you visited. Keep records of your diagnoses and bills. These can establish a fair claim with an insurance company or court.
Insurance companies often argue that the accident did not necessarily cause your injuries, or they are not as severe as you say. Your medical records are evidence to refute those accusations and demand a fair claim.
If a Queen’s car accident injured you or a loved one, contact a Queens car accident lawyer. Let an experienced legal team help you through the claims process to ensure you receive a fair settlement or take those responsible to court.