No matter how safe of a driver you are, you can still be hurt in a car accident. Careless motorists are responsible for thousands of crashes each year. In fact, in Nassau County, an average of 81 people die, 1,337 people are hospitalized, and 12,340 people visit the emergency room each year for injuries related to car accidents.
If another driver causes a collision, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them and their insurance company. Through a personal injury claim, you can recover financial compensation for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and other losses. A skilled Hempstead car accident attorney will fight for your right to maximum compensation for your injuries.
Based in Melville, The Odierno Law Firm represents accident victims throughout Long Island. For each case, we put together the strongest possible claim – and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more, reach out to our law office to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team.
When Can I File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Car accident claims are a type of personal injury case. Most often, they are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. If you can prove that the other driver was negligent in some way, then you can recover compensation (damages).
Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the at-fault party (defendant) owed the accident victim (plaintiff) a duty of care
- Breach: the defendant breached, or violated, that duty in some way
- Causation: the breach was the proximate (but for) cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses as a result.
In many cases, negligence is obvious or straightforward. For example, if a drunk driver causes an auto accident, then it will be relatively easy to establish that they were negligent. Similarly, if a person is texting and driving, they could be found negligent for causing a distracted driving accident.
However, there are situations when negligence is less clear. Consider a case where a driver turned left without looking, which caused an accident – but the driver of the vehicle that they hit was speeding at the time. Here, New York’s contributory negligence laws will apply.
With contributory negligence, an injury victim can still recover damages for their injuries even if they were partially at fault. The total amount of their recovery will be reduced by the percentage that they were at fault. If the speeding driver in the example above is found to be 30% at fault, then 30% will be deducted from their total damages.
It can be hard to determine when you have the right to file a lawsuit for your car accident. The laws surrounding personal injury can be complicated. A skilled Hempstead car accident lawyer can work with you to help you understand your rights – and to pursue full compensation for your losses.
Steps to Getting a Settlement
You may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses in a car accident case.
Damages include economic and non-economic damages which are are considered compensatory because they compensate you for your losses.
Economic damages may include money for direct financial losses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The process of getting a car accident settlement starts with a free initial consultation with a personal injury law firm. During this appointment, your attorney will listen to your story and offer you legal advice about your options for filing a claim.
If you decide to hire the firm, they will get to work on your case right away. Your attorney will begin an investigation into the facts of the case, interviewing witnesses, collecting accident reports and medical records, and reviewing photos and videos of the accident scene. At the same time, they will research New York law to put together a legal argument for damages.
Next, your Hempstead car accident lawyer will draft a demand letter and send it to the insurance company. A demand letter lays out the facts of the case, the legal reason that their insured is liable, and makes a demand for compensation. Insurance companies usually respond to a demand letter with a counteroffer, beginning the negotiation process.
The two sides will go back and forth to reach a settlement. While the vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved outside of court, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to put pressure on the insurance company and to continue the negotiation process. This often happens when the insurer refuses to offer fair compensation for an accident victim’s injuries.
Once a lawsuit has been filed, the discovery process begins. Each side will exchange information relevant to the claim. Your attorney may also file motions with the court, asking them to make decisions about the case.
Negotiations will continue throughout the pre-trial process, up to the morning of trial. Most cases will settle outside of court – often within 3 – 6 months of sending the demand letter. However, it may be necessary to take your case to trial to seek maximum compensation.
Throughout the process, your attorney will keep you updated and bring all settlement offers to you. Depending on the facts of your case and whether liability is contested, you may receive a settlement check within a matter of months. In other situations, it may take a year or longer to resolve your claim. Working with a seasoned Hempstead personal injury attorney can increase the likelihood of a favorable resolution.
When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
In the aftermath of the accident, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster. They may tell you that they accept full responsibility for the crash and ask you to sign documents. They may even offer you a settlement.
In almost every case, the settlement offer will be for far less than the true value of your claim. The goal of the insurance company is not to make sure that you get top dollar for your injuries. Instead, they want to pay you as little as possible to maximize their own profits.
For this reason, it is critical that you reach out to an experienced Hempstead car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your wreck. Your attorney will take over all communications with the insurance company on your behalf. They will also ensure that you don’t sign anything or give a statement that could damage your case.
The sooner you talk to a car accident attorney, the faster they can get the case started – and get you the money that you deserve. Even if your car accident was relatively minor, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you with the claims process. Studies show that people who have legal representation recover an average of 40% more than people who represent themselves.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you won’t pay anything upfront, and will only pay attorney’s fees if they recover money for you. There is no risk to consulting with an attorney – and potentially a lot to gain.
What to Look for in a Car Accident Lawyer
There are a lot of personal injury attorneys on Long Island. How can you know which one is right for you?
Initially, you should talk to friends and family to see if they have any personal recommendations. If they previously had a car accident case and were happy with their lawyer, that is a great place to start.
Once you have a few suggestions, you can start making a list. When doing so, you should look for the following things:
- Knowledge of the law, including specializations. Does the attorney have particular experience in your specific type of car accident (drunk driving, Uber accidents, rear-end crashes, etc)
- A focused practice that concentrates on New York personal injury law
- An understanding of medical concepts is often crucial to getting a fair settlement
- Extensive experience in both trials and negotiations
- A proven track record
- Handles cases on a contingency fee basis
- Only represents personal injury victims, not insurance companies
- Adequate time and resources to dedicate to your case
- Excellent client reviews
When you schedule a free consultation, prepare a list of questions. Remember: you are the prospective client! Before you hire any law firm, make sure that you are comfortable with them and the answers that they provide to your questions.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
At The Odierno Law Firm, we have more than 200 years of combined legal experience in New York personal injury law. We offer skilled, compassionate representation to accident victims throughout Long Island. For each case, we work hard to help our clients get the best possible outcome.
If you have been injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, we are here for you. With our law firm, you’ll never be treated like a case number – you will always get personal attention. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team, give us a call at 631-752-8580 or fill out our online contact form.
How Much Is My Hempstead Car Accident Case Worth?
The value of any car accident claim depends on a number of factors, including the defendant’s insurance policy limits, whether liability is clear, and the severity of the injuries. For example, a person who suffered spinal cord injuries in a car crash will usually recover more than a person who had a broken bone and expects to fully recover within a month or so.
The best way to get an idea of how much your case is worth is to schedule a free consultation with a Hempstead personal injury lawyer. During your appointment, your attorney will give you an estimate of the value of your case, which may change over time. In Long Island, contact The Odierno Law Firm for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer for My Car Accident Claim?
Yes. Unless your car crash only involved property damage – and no injuries – it is a good idea to at least consult with an attorney before you give a statement or sign any paperwork from the insurance company. The reason why is simple: the insurance company is in business to make money. They do that by minimizing or denying legitimate car accident claims.
The Odierno Law Firm is dedicated to making sure that accident victims get fair compensation for their injuries. To learn more about how we can help, give our law office a call to schedule a consultation with a Hempstead car accident attorney.
How Long Do I Have to File a Case for My Car Accident?
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in New York is 3 years. With a few exceptions, this means that you have 3 years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and their insurance company. If you fail to do so, then your claim will be barred.
This rule exists for good reason – witness memories fade over time, and evidence may be destroyed. To protect your rights, it is important that you consult with a Hempstead car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. Call The Odierno Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.