DO I HAVE TO PAY YOU A FEE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CASE?
NO! In all injury cases, if we do not recover monetary compensation for you, we do not get paid at all. We will work for you and advance all necessary expenses related to your claim and get paid at the end of the case only if we recover monetary compensation for you.
WHEN SHOULD I CONTACT AN ATTORNEY?
The sooner you speak to us about your accident claim, the better we can help you with managing all of the hurdles and challenges related to your case. If your car was damaged, we will help you get your car repaired, a rental car during repairs or a settlement of your car's total loss (there is no charge for this service when we accept your case). We will help to arrange medical billing, provide guidance on your choices for medical care. We will become the contact person with insurance companies to obtain all necessary benefits and maximum monetary recovery.
With early contact, our team of investigators and engineers can best secure and preserve evidence that we may need later in the presentation of your claim, such as: Obtaining Witness Statements, Photographs of Car Damage, Accident Scene Pictures, Closed-Circuit Videos; Retaining Experts to Evaluate Defective Conditions, Sidewalks, Roads, Products and Devices.
WHAT DO I DO FIRST IF I AM IN A CAR/MOTORCYCLE/TRUCK ACCIDENT?
New York law requires that you exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. However, you should be sure that you are in a safe position to make this exchange, especially if the accident occurs at night, or if you were injured and cannot make this exchange without risk of further injury. If anyone is injured, or there is a disagreement as to who was at fault, you should contact the police immediately. You should also inquire if anyone in the other vehicle is injured and needs medical assistance. Do not argue with the other driver or anyone else in the other vehicle. If you are unsure, at all, about what to do, call the police immediately.
DO I NEED TO GO IN THE AMBULANCE?
Only you can make the decision as to whether to get immediate medical attention, or whether to take the ambulance to the Hospital. It is usually a good idea to get early medical attention just to be sure, as your decision making may not be as clear after the trauma of an accident. Therefore, it is best to follow the advice of medical and emergency personnel at the scene.
WHAT IF I DID NOT GO BY AMBULANCE, CAN I GO ON MY OWN, OR THE NEXT DAY?
Often, accident victims do not feel injured at the accident scene, but were "shaken up" or felt "jittery, nervous and upset." The next morning, many of them feel the effects of being in an accident, feel injured, or in pain "all over." This is common, and you should seek medical attention right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to ensure a good physical recovery. You should tell your doctor all of the problems, aches and pains that you are experiencing, to ensure that each symptom is placed in your chart. A minor ache or pain can become worse as you return to regular activity, and thus will be clearly connected to your accident by early mention of it to the doctor.
WHAT IF I DID NOT HAVE CAR INSURANCE, PROPERLY REGISTERED CAR, DRIVERS LICENSE, MY SEAT-BELT ON?
If the police are on the scene, you may be given a ticket for any one or more of these issues. If you were not at fault for causing the accident, you will still be able to make a claim for your injuries, related losses and property damage. Failure to have car insurance may limit some of your options for medical treatment and rental and property damage reimbursements.
WHO WILL PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS?
Generally, payments for medical bills due to motor vehicle accidents within New York State are dictated by "No-Fault" laws. While it may seem unfair that you were injured through no fault of your own, your medical bills are primarily covered by the insurance company that insured the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident. In order to get your car insurance to pay your accident related medical bills, your insurance company must be notified about the accident. Therefore, securing and paying for medical attention, or getting it paid by insurance, is your responsibility, with the help of your attorney.
The order in which your medical bills will be paid, depending upon the types of coverage you have, are as follows:
Primary: Your own car insurance
Secondary: Your private/group health insurance
WILL MY INSURANCE RATES GO UP?
Your car insurance premiums are primarily based upon your driving history. If you are in an accident that was not your fault, your rates should not go up even if you have to make a claim against that policy for medical, collision or other benefits that you paid for. Remember, you pay premiums so that you have the coverage when you need it. You should not be scared to use what you have paid for!
DO I HAVE TO STAY OUT OF WORK?
You should follow doctors' orders regarding restrictions on your work, activities and activity levels. However, many injured folks simply cannot stay out of work due to their job requirements or family needs. You must make this choice based upon what is best for your particular circumstances. Your case will be based upon a large number of factors, including lost wages, and your ability or inability to work is just one of many factors.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR MY CASE TO BE OVER?
Each case is as different as the clients involved. In New York, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is three (3) years. Your attorney will certainly try to settle your case before that amount of time has passed, if it is ready. In some cases, a lawsuit will be filed right away, due to the nature of the case and the parties involved. Your case is ready to settle when:
1. You have finished treating with your doctors;
2. All of the bills, notes and reports have been gathered by your attorney and presented to the other driver's insurance carrier for review;
3. Your primary doctor(s) has provided a detailed report that explains your injuries and what future problems and treatment are going to be necessary to keep you in your current condition.
Your case should not be settled until all the information has been gathered. You only have one chance to settle your case. Therefore, it is critically important that the medical picture is as clear as possible to ensure proper compensation. If you settle early, and you have more medical problems later that were not addressed, you will not be able to undo the settlement to claim again.
WHAT IF MY CASE DOES NOT SETTLE?
Most cases settle before trial. Some cases require trial or other forms of dispute resolution called arbitration or mediation. Trial happens when both sides cannot agree on liability and/or damages (proper amount to settle the case). At trial, the facts of the case are presented to a jury of six, with a judge presiding. The jury decides who was at fault, and if you win, how much money you will receive. In arbitration, a retired judge or an experienced lawyer will decide the case as if it were in front of a jury, with the same rules. Arbitration results are binding. In mediation, a retired judge or an experienced lawyer will recommend the terms of settlement. Mediation recommendations are just that, recommendations and not binding.
HOW MUCH IS MY CASE WORTH?
Here are some important factors in evaluating your claim:
1. The nature and extent of your injuries: Did you require hospitalization, extensive therapy, medications and/or surgery? Were the injuries serious: broken bones, dislocations, fractures, herniations, vision problems, other life-altering conditions (chronic pain, sleep difficulties, etc)? Did you have other financial losses, wage loss, loss of ability to work in your chosen field, inability to work as long or hard as before? What other aspects of your life were affected? For instance, if you are an avid pianist who suffered a hand crush injury, clearly you will have had a loss of function to your hand that will impact that leisure activity.
2. Did you make a full recovery physically, or are your injuries permanent and chronic? How do these problems affect your daily life, and what hurdles do you now face as a result?
3. Did you have out of pocket expenses for medication, medical services, co-payments, wage losses? Will you have additional expenses for these items in the future? Has your ability to work in your chosen field been affected? Do you need additional help at home, or accommodations at work, and at what cost?