Dealing With Insurance Companies
Get a professional Long Island injury lawyer on your side.
When you are in an auto accident in New York, and you suffer physical and/or property damage, you ordinarily would look to the insurance company to compensate you. It could be your own insurance company or that of the other party. New York is a no-fault state, which means basically that for “non-serious” injuries, your insurance company will pay medical bills and any lost wages up to a certain amount while not allowing you to take the matter to court. It does not matter who is actually at fault for the accident. No-fault also includes accidents with pedestrians and bicycle riders.
In a case in which you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries, you could have problems, as the insurance company will take certain actions to minimize the status of your injury, and keep it within the non-serious status. If you have been injured in an accident, you need to contact a Long Island car accident attorney who handles motor vehicle accidents to find out what kind of compensation you really should be able to recover. The more serious the injury, the more important it is to be represented by a Long Island car accident lawyer who has the experience and skill to fight aggressively to see that you receive the full benefits you deserve.
Cases of Serious Injury in Long Island
A problem can arise with the term “serious injury.” If your injury qualifies for this status, then you will have the ability to sue for greater compensation for pain and suffering. This is not related to who is actually at fault. Your insurance company may hire an independent medical professional to look over your medical records. This doctor will not examine you personally, in most cases. Quite often, this doctor will report that you did not suffer a serious injury, or that no treatment is necessary at all, thus denying any no-fault benefits.
Or insurance may pay some of the medical bills, but upon the recommendation of the independent doctor may claim that no further treatment is necessary, or that you can in fact go back to work, may cancel any further benefits. These are distressing issues to deal with, and most people are unsure what to do next, or just accept the low settlement, which may not even cover medical expenses, much less lost wages.
Under no-fault insurance, the maximum amount that can be paid is $50,000 per injured person in the insured’s vehicle, or a pedestrian hit by that vehicle. This payment is for actual medical bills, a portion of lost wages, and any other necessary, basic expenses. There is no compensation for “pain and suffering.” If you suffered injuries that qualify under the “serious injury” category, then your case can be brought to court. These cases can be quite complex and require a very knowledgeable lawyer to persuasively present a well-documented case, and fight for your rights against the insurance company.
Types of Auto Insurance in New York
In New York, all drivers are required to have car insurance. If you drive without insurance, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend both your vehicle registration and your driver’s license. You may also be subject to a $1,500 fine.
Automobile insurance consists of several types of coverage. New York is a no-fault state, so drivers must have no-fault benefits or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. It may also be called MedPay (medical payments). Even if you weren’t at fault for a car accident, PIP will pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other reasonable and necessary expenses.
New York also requires to carry a minimum amount of insurance for bodily injury and property damage. You must have at least $10,000 in property damage coverage. You must also have $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person injured in an accident (plus $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people involved in an accident).
In addition, car insurance policies in New York must have uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This type of insurance will pay you in the event that you are involved in an accident with someone who was driving without car insurance. It can also be used in the event of a hit-and-run collision where the at-fault driver cannot be located.
This is the minimal insurance that you must have to own and operate a motor vehicle in the state of New York. Many people choose to get additional coverage, such as higher limits for bodily injury and property damage and underinsured motorist coverage. Some lenders will also require you to get collision coverage as a condition of a loan for a car payment.
If you are in the market for car insurance, consider purchasing coverage beyond the minimum required insurance. In many cases, getting better insurance coverage isn’t significantly more expensive than the minimum. Having this coverage will protect you in the event that you cause an accident – and may also come into play if you are in an accident with someone who only has the bare minimum insurance.
If you are involved in an accident, then your PIP insurance will pay for your medical expenses, up to $50,000 per person for basic no-fault coverage. The goal of PIP coverage is to ensure that injury victims can get the medical treatment that they need without waiting to determine fault. It will also cover lost wages, but it does not cover auto body repairs or pay for property damage.
If the other driver caused the accident, you may then file a claim against their car insurance policy to recover financial compensation for your losses. Through this type of personal injury lawsuit, you can seek money for your remaining medical bills, future medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.
Insurance claims can be complex. Even when liability is clear, insurance companies often seek to pay out as little as possible – or even deny legitimate claims outright. Working with a Long Island car insurance attorney can help increase the likelihood that you will get full compensation for your injuries.
What Can You Do If Your Insurance Claim Is Denied?
Insurance companies are notorious for trying to underpay or even deny accident claims. Even your own insurance company may deny an accident claim – which can be difficult to accept, given the high costs of car insurance premiums.
Because New York is a no-fault state, your insurance company should pay for your medical expenses and lost wages, up to $50,000 per person. You may also file an uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claim with your car insurance company if you are involved in a collision with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your losses.
While some insurance denials may be fair, in many situations these denials are made in bad faith. They may also engage in a variety of tactics designed to delay your claim processing so that you will ultimately give up and accept a lowball settlement offer. Some insurance adjusters will also pressure claimants into accepting a settlement that is far below the value of your claim.
The best way to protect yourself is by working with a seasoned Long Island car insurance lawyer. Even when it comes to taking on your own insurance company, it is important to have legal counsel. They can advise you of your rights and options for pursuing further compensation, which may include filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or your own insurance company.
Insurance policies are a type of contract. They often contain overly complicated language, and seemingly endless clauses full of exceptions. Your attorney can review your policy and help you understand your rights when it comes to both filing a personal injury lawsuit and pursuing compensation from your own insurance company.
Importantly, the insurance companies have their own teams of attorneys and adjusters, all of whom are working together towards a common goal of paying out as little as possible. It only makes sense to have your own lawyer to represent your best interests – and to fight for the money that you deserve for your injuries.
How can a personal injury attorney help me?
Without legal representation, you are fighting an uphill battle with an insurance company if you hope to be properly compensated for injuries and lost wages incurred in an accident. There are specific deadlines for filing claims. An investigation by an experienced personal injury lawyer could involve any or all of the following: hiring investigators to investigate the accident scene, retaining medical and property damage experts, accident reconstruction experts, and full case analysis and trial preparation, if a case is not settled prior to trial.
At The Odierno Law Firm, P.C. once we know the facts of the incident and the full extent of injuries and damages, we can advise you as to whether your case truly falls under the no-fault status or whether you should be seeking compensation for more serious injuries.
We take over all the necessary paperwork and negotiations with the insurance company involved. Contact us to find out how we can help you.
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