Determining Fault in a Car Accident Claim
Even with just minor injuries or damages, it’s never a good day to get into an auto accident. In cases of more serious injuries, and facing lost wages because you can’t work, or hiring others to help you because you can’t perform your normal duties, you will no doubt be experiencing much more stress and emotional turmoil, as well as facing the pain of the injuries. It can be overwhelming trying to cope.
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If your injuries and damages were caused by the negligence of another, then you deserve to be compensated by that party. It is advised that you consult with a Long Island lawyer in such a case. Dealing with insurance companies for car accidents on your own can be very stressful – and dismaying. You will want a knowledgeable attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies and is ready to stand up to them to protect your rights, and who will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
Proving Liability In a Car Accident
In the aftermath of a car accident, one of the most critical parts of an injury claim is understanding how to prove liability. This often requires sufficient evidence and a firm understanding of the law—something you may only receive with a qualified legal advocate on your side.
However, in many personal injury and car accident matters, proving liability relies on four very specific factors. It is your responsibility as the plaintiff in a car accident case to prove that these factors existed, thus making the defendant the liable party.
Before you begin your car accident claim, you should recognize the four factors, what they mean, and what you can look for to help strengthen your potential case.
The Duty of Care
The first factor that must be shown is duty of care. This means proving that the defendant had the responsibility to act in a matter that did not compromise your safety in anyway. However, it is easier to prove in a car accident case as anyone with a license does in fact have a duty of care to all others on the road.
Duty of care means that the driver should be obeying all traffic laws and acting in a way that not only cares for his or her own well-being but prevents others on the road from being harmed by the driver’s action.
Breach In the Duty of Care
Because all drivers on the road have a duty of care to others, any act of negligence can be considered a breach of that duty of care. This includes the following acts:
- Driving while under the influence
- Driving while texting
- Driving while drowsy
- Swerving in and out of lanes
Any action the driver makes that can be seen as negligence may be used against them as a breach of duty of care. Showing that the defendant was actively disobeying the laws on the road can prove beneficial in strengthening your case.
The Breach Caused an Accident
In some cases, it isn’t the driver’s actions that cause the accident—such as when a product on the vehicle is considered defective or a road danger causes the accident. However, in personal injury matters, it must be shown that the driver’s direct breach in the duty of care was what caused the accident.
As the plaintiff, it is on you and your legal team to show that the negligence caused the crash and no other factors were involved. Proving this can seem difficult at first, but the evidence you collect at the scene of the accident can help put your case together.
The Accident Caused an Injury
One of the defenses used by insurance companies is claiming that you had a pre-existing injury or that you suffered your injuries in a separate incident from the one involving their policyholder. This is because one of the factors of liability is proving that the negligent action did in fact cause an injury.
It’s important to get medical help after the accident. The doctor you see can show that you did suffer an injury as a result of the negligence and that the other driver should be responsible for the expenses associated with the accident.
How Much to Expect From a Car Accident Settlement
As New York is a no-fault state, it will not matter who caused the car accident when it comes to your insurance company paying your medical bills and lost wages. The average amount that injured parties receive in car accident settlements is around $28,000.
When you are seeking damages from another party, it will be up to you to prove the other party was responsible. This is where a skilled lawyer can be of great help. In some cases, these investigations can be simple, while in others, establishing liability can be highly complex. In many cases, you may be offered far less than the amount that you deserve, based upon the damages you suffered.
When Another Person is at Fault
If you were seriously injured, then the matter of liability becomes a critical issue. If another party is at fault, whether that party is another driver, a passenger in your car, or when the accident was caused by a defective car part, system or design, then that party should be held responsible for your pain and suffering. A serious injury is essentially any physical injury, medically validated, that stops the victim from being able to perform his usual physical activities for a minimum of three months following the accident. If you were in an auto accident and sustained serious injury, and the other party was at least partially at fault, then you can seek compensation from the other party proportionate to the amount of negligence the other driver had for the accident.
For example, if the other party is determined to be 20%, 50%, or 100% negligent, then they have to pay you that same proportionate amount for your losses. But you would have to prove that the other party is at least partially, if not fully, liable. An experienced Long Island auto accident attorney from our firm knows how to properly investigate car accidents in order to establish fault. In some cases, it was not a driver that was at fault. A case could revolve around automobile defects that caused or contributed to a crash. The liable parties could include the manufacturer of the car, vendor, distributor, car dealership, repair shop, or wholesaler.
An injury case could be related to faulty brakes, defective tires, a defective airbag, or possibly a malfunctioning seat belt that caused an injury, or a design flaw that made the vehicle unsafe under certain conditions. Whatever or whoever is at fault for a car accident, a proper, thorough liability investigation is a critical point in getting fair and full compensation in a settlement or verdict. The legal team at The Odierno Law Firm P.C. has more than 150 years of combined experience aggressively pursuing full compensation from all negligent parties. We are determined to protect our clients’ rights and help them recover compensation through a settlement, or in a verdict in civil court.
How Does New York’s No-Fault Insurance Work?
In the state of New York, there are certain types of insurance coverages that drivers are required to maintain with minimum limits covered for car accidents. However, it’s also important to know that the state is also one that recognizes no-fault car insurance.
Knowing what this means for drivers is important, and can help you learn more about the insurance system in the state and what happens in the event of an accident. Read on to learn more about the impact of no-fault insurance on filing a claim.
What Does No-Fault Insurance Mean?
Typically, in many of the states, car insurance claims are handled in a manner in which the injured party seeks compensation from the insurance company of the negligent party. They are limited by the coverage of the driver responsible for the crash.
In the state of New York, though, the no-fault car insurance system is followed. This means that in the event of a car accident, you would go through your own car insurance provider to help cover the expenses associated with the damages sustained.
There is no compensation for pain and suffering or non-economic damages under the no-fault claim. However, there are some situations in which a claim can go outside of the no-fault system, allowing the injured to file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit when a driver is at fault.
If you sustained serious injuries under New York law’s thresholds, you may be able to seek more compensation. This is possible when injuries include significant disfigurement, broken or fractured bones, permanent damage to a body organ or member, significant problems regarding body function limitations, or when you are fully disabled for at least 90 days.
What Damages May Be Available Outside of No-Fault Insurance Accidents?
Most people have an understanding that the state of New York operates on a no-fault insurance standard and in many situations, claims are handled with each driver’s own insurance. However, there are certain situations when you must go beyond your own insurance company to seek additional compensation.
In accidents where significant injuries occur and when damages exceed a specific amount, it’s imperative to understand your legal options. Here are the damages you can pursue outside of the no-fault insurance laws.
Healthcare Costs & Medical Expenses
In auto accidents, the victim may go outside of their own insurance and pursue a fault-based claim against the negligent party’s insurance company under given circumstances. This includes when injuries are considered serious and disabling.
The claim may be placed seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and other expenses associated with the injuries you have sustained.
You may also experience damage to your vehicle that would exceed the limits of your no-fault insurance claim. Because of this, the law allows you to pursue compensation from the responsible party’s insurance company to repair or replace your vehicle.
In these types of claims, it’s important to recognize the various ways to prove liability in a car accident. Showing liability is the most effective way to handle claims with another party’s insurance company as they may try to deny your claim or pay you less than what you deserve.
Damages You Can Recover After a New York Car Crash
It is common for insurance providers not to offer injured car accident victims enough money to sufficiently cover their medical expenses and repair costs. Most of the time, accident victims are only presented with minimal amounts that only provide “actual damages,” or the original harm that is measured in dollars and cents.
If you are dissatisfied with the amount of money the insurance company offered you, you are not required to accept their offer and stop there. You have the right to go after more.
In the state of New York, there are four different types of damages that personal injury accident victims may recover:
- Compensatory damages. It is in your best interest to pursue these kinds of damages if you would like to receive compensation for any financial losses you have already lost or may sustain in the future as a result of your injury. It is common for a jury to decide this amount for you.
- Punitive damages. These damages are designed to provide a consequence to those who are liable for your injuries. This is an amount you and your lawyer set. Punitive damages are also known as exemplary damages. It is customary for people to be awarded lesser amounts than requested, so it is wise to contemplate a higher amount than what you expect to receive.
- Nominal damages. Even if no bodily injuries occur, car accidents can still cause severe emotional damage to victims. You can sue those who are accountable for the collision for nominal damages so that you are provided with compensation for your emotional suffering.
- Comparative fault recoveries. If you were somewhat at-fault for the car accident that prompted your injuries, New York State law permits you to go after damages that will be decreased based on your “percentage of responsibility” for the crash. For instance, if you are considered half at-fault for the incident, the damages awarded to you will likely be decreased by 50%.
For more information, contact our Long Island Car Accident Lawyers today.
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