Bedford, NY Car Accident Lawyer

yonkers NY Injury Attorney

Car accidents are so common that most people have probably been in one or know someone who has. After an accident, an attorney can help you explore your legal options and help you get compensation for your injuries.

This state adheres to no-fault insurance laws, meaning most drivers file insurance claims with their own insurance rather than the other driver. You may sue for damages only if you can establish you experienced a “serious injury” as defined by law. You need evidence to prove your claims in either an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Evidence might come from the accident scene, witnesses, or various other sources. If we prove your claims, you may be awarded damages for the money you spent because of the crash, your physical pain, and your psychological distress. How your accident happened may determine how we approach your case and prove the defendant’s negligence. It is important to act fast, as the deadline for your case may be coming up soon.

For a free case evaluation to begin your case, talk to our car accident attorneys by calling The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.

How to Begin a Car Accident Claim in Bedford, NY

Starting a legal claim for damages after a car accident can be a complicated endeavor in any state, but there are certain legal hurdles to overcome in New York. This state is a no-fault state, meaning drivers file claims with their own insurance companies. To sue the other driver for damages, you have to show you have a serious injury.

No-Fault Insurance Laws in New York

No-fault insurance laws exist in a handful of states, including New York. In this state, drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This is the insurance policy that may cover them in the event of a car accident.

After an accident, drivers file claims with their own PIP insurance policies. This is different than fault-based states where drivers file third-party claims with the other driver’s insurance. Also unlike other states, drivers in New York do not need to prove who is at fault to get compensation from their insurance. In fact, they can be responsible for the accident and still be covered.

The problem is that many drivers exceed the limits of their PIP policies. In order to sue for their remaining damages, certain legal requirements must be adhered to.

Filing a Lawsuit

According to I.S.C. Law § 5104(a), insurance claims through no-fault PIP insurance are the sole remedy for injured drivers unless they can show they suffered a serious injury. But what exactly makes an injury serious? This might sound like a vague definition, but the law has established a well-defined explanation of serious injuries.

A serious injury is defined under I.S.C. Law § 5102(d). If a car accident leads to the loss of a fetus, bodily organs or extremities, or bodily functions, or death, dismemberment, or significant scarring or disfigurement, you may have a serious injury. If your injury does not meet this description, you might still be able to sue if your injury prevented you from performing your normal daily tasks for at least 90 days during the 180 days that immediately followed the crash.

How to Collect Evidence to Prove Your Claims in a Bedford, NY Car Accident Case

To prove your claims and get fair financial compensation for your injuries and damages, we need evidence backing up your claims that show how the defendant was negligent. Where our car accident attorneys find evidence and how we obtain it will vary based on your unique circumstances.

Evidence From the Accident Scene

A good place to begin collecting evidence is the scene of the car accident. Since accident scenes tend to be cleared away by the authorities pretty quickly, we might need to rely on evidence you gather almost immediately after the crash. If you were too seriously injured to do this, do not worry. Your lawyer can help you piece together details from the collision.

Taking pictures and recording videos of the accident scene right after the crash is a good idea. Many people do this so they have something to show their insurance company, but these recordings may also be used as evidence in your civil lawsuit. If you do not have a phone or camera you can use to take pictures and videos, even jotting down notes about the accident may be helpful.

Avoid removing physical objects from the accident without first asking the police. If the accident involves possible criminal charges—like a DUI or a hit-and-run—the police will want to investigate everything at the scene for themselves.

Witness Testimony

While still at the accident scene, you should exchange contact information with everyone around you. Talk to other drivers, passengers, and passersby. You never know who saw something important that might be important to your legal claims. If we have their names and contact information, it may be much easier to interview people and possibly have them testify in court. If you could not get these details – perhaps you were too badly hurt – we can check the police report for information about witnesses.

We should also consider having you testify about your experiences with the accident. In many cases, plaintiffs have unique insight into how an accident occurred, their damages, and how their lives have changed since the crash.

Police Reports

Police reports sometimes contain extremely valuable information and evidence. However, these reports usually violate Rule § 8.01(1) of the New York Rules of Evidence, which forbids hearsay. Hearsay may include statements—including written statements—based on second-hand information rather than personal knowledge. Police reports are usually compiled based on second-hand information gathered by the police. The ban on hearsay is not absolute; some exceptions might allow us to use it as evidence.

The police report, or portions of it, may be admitted into evidence based on the hearsay exception for admissions by a party under Rule § 8.03(1). For example, suppose the opposing party made a statement to the police admitting fault for the accident, and the police record that statement in their report. In that case, the opposing party’s statement may still be admissible in court even though it is technically hearsay.

There is another hearsay exception for business records under Rule § 8.08(a). The rule allows us to enter reports or records made in the regular course of business, whatever that business might be. Because law enforcement officials regularly keep records and make reports on car accidents, their report might be admissible in your case.

Available Damages in Bedford, NY Car Accident Claims

Damages available in Bedford car accident cases may be quite substantial. First, we can assess your economic losses. This should include the money you lost as a direct result of the crash. Certain expenses are large and more obvious, like big hospital bills and the cost to replace or repair your vehicle. However, there may be various other costs that are more easily missed.

For example, you can claim the cost of traveling to and from the hospital. This might be a lot of money if you live far away from the nearest hospital and may include gas, lodging, and food.

Non-economic damages are more subjective and can be harder to pin down. They include painful experiences, like physical pain, emotional distress, and signs of psychological trauma. For example, many people feel as though their accidents were near-death experiences and are somewhat traumatized. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear may be overwhelming and persistent, having a huge impact on the plaintiff’s life and well-being. The jury ultimately determines these damages.

In New York, there are no statutory caps on damages. This means that your economic damages may be as high as necessary to make up for the money you lost. Similarly, non-economic damages may be as high as necessary. However, unreasonably high damages awards may be challenged by the defendant and reduced by the judge.

How Car Accidents Can Happen Around Bedford, NY

The details surrounding how your auto accident occurred may heavily influence how we handle your case. One common cause of accidents in New York is driver intoxication. Not only are intoxicated drivers extremely dangerous on the road, but they may also be criminally charged. In such cases, the police are more likely to investigate more thoroughly. Our car accident lawyers can use the police report to find more evidence uncovered by the authorities.

One of the more seemingly mundane causes of car accidents is drivers’ failure to obey traffic control devices. This may include signs, lights, and any other signals meant to direct and control the flow of traffic. This is often regarded as mundane because many drivers ignore signs or lights daily. Unfortunately, it only takes one mistake to cause a major collision, even if a drier has made the same mistake a hundred times before. Many bad accidents have happened because a driver simply ran a stop sign or ignored a red light.

Distractions on the road are also extremely common, especially now that phones and GPS devices can sync with many newer vehicles. If you believe the other driver was on a phone call, texting, or otherwise distracted, they should be held liable for the accident and your injuries.

Your Deadline to Take Legal Action After an Auto Collision in Bedford, NY

If you were injured in a collision, you have a limited time to take legal action. As such, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible so they can help you explore your options and decide the best path forward.

If you want to file a lawsuit, you have only 3 years from the date of the accident to do so, according to C.V.P. Law § 214. While 3 years might sound like a long time, it is not as long as you might think. It takes time to prepare a civil case. Many plaintiffs spend months or even more than a year working with their attorney to gather evidence, assess damages, and prepare a legal strategy. To maximize your time, meet with a lawyer sooner rather than later.

Check with your insurance company about your specific deadline for filing an insurance claim. Different insurance companies might have different deadlines based on their policies and the nature of your claim. Much like filing a lawsuit, it is best to meet with a lawyer and file your insurance claim as soon as possible.

What You Should and Should Not Say After a Car Accident in Bedford, NY

Being involved in a car accident is not necessarily a criminal offense, but anything you say can and will be used against you by the opposing party. As such, you should avoid saying anything that might be misinterpreted as an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. Even a simple apology after the accident might be used against you by an opportunistic defendant. While you think you are just being polite and trying to ease tensions with the other driver, they might seize on your statement and use it against you.

You should generally avoid talking about the accident with anyone but your attorney and immediate family. Do not post about the accident or your injuries on social media. The opposing party or an insurance company might use your social media to undermine your claims if they believe it contradicts your claims.

In fact, you should avoid talking about the accident at all unless your attorney gives the okay. Make your lawyer your point of contact. If anyone wants to talk to you about the accident, including insurance companies, defendants, or the authorities, they should have to contact your lawyer first. Your attorney may be able to answer certain questions on your behalf so that you can focus on recovering. Your lawyer can also help you answer questions about the accident in a way that conveys the truth while protecting your legal rights.

Contact Our Bedford, NY Car Accident lawyers for Legal Help

For a free case evaluation to begin your case, talk to our car accident attorneys by calling The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.

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