Middletown, NY Car Accident Lawyer

yonkers NY Injury Attorney

If the State of New York is known for one thing, it is probably its traffic. Many places surrounding NYC, like Middletown, experience a lot of traffic, making accidents a frequent occurrence.

Plaintiffs have only 3 years to file personal injury claims for car accidents. Common factors in car accident cases include ordinary traffic code violations, alcohol, and inattentive driving. Proving your claims requires us to show how the defendant was negligent. To do this, we need strong evidence related to the accident and the defendant’s behavior. Damages may be varied and vast and account for monetary expenses in addition to more subjective injuries, like mental or emotional suffering. Auto insurance is an important consideration. In New York, drivers follow no-fault insurance laws and may file lawsuits only if they meet “serious injury” requirements. When determining fault, we should be prepared to fight back against allegations that you contributed to the crash, as this is a common defense strategy. Our team can help you begin your case by preparing and drafting a formal complaint.

Speak to our car accident attorneys for a free review of your claims by calling The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.

How Long After a Car Accident Can I File a Lawsuit in Middletown, NY?

The days and weeks after a car accident often feel like a whirlwind. You might have been rushed to a hospital for emergency medical care. Perhaps you were in the hospital for a long time because your injuries were so severe. You might have lost your vehicle and the numerous personal items inside. You might be trying to take time off from work while also dealing with insurance adjusters. It can be easy to lose track of time. Unfortunately, there is a tight deadline on when you must file a lawsuit after a car accident.

The Statute of Limitations

In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injuries, including car accident cases, is located under C.V.P. Law § 214(5). According to this law, plaintiffs have 3 short years to file a lawsuit or risk losing their right to bring their cause of action. The deadline begins to run on the date of the car accident. As a result, the days and weeks you spend recovering and piecing your life back together may be eating away at your very limited time.

It may be best to contact an attorney right after the accident, even if you are still recovering. While you focus on getting better, our team can focus on preparing your case.

Tolling the Deadline

If the deadline is coming up fast, our car accident attorneys can help you look into the possibility of having the statute of limitations tolled. Tolling is like pausing the clock counting down to your deadline, thus buying extra time. Tolling may only occur under very specific circumstances.

Suppose the defendant is outside the state or they are inside the state but living under a false name and cannot be located. In that case, according to C.V.P. Law § 207, we might have the statute of limitations tolled. Generally, the statute is tolled until the defendant returns to the state. If they live in the state but cannot be found for at least 4 months, this time is not counted toward the deadline.

You might also have the deadline tolled if you cannot file the case because of a mental disorder or because you were a minor when the accident occurred. Under C.V.P. Law § 208(a), the deadline would be tolled until the plaintiff turns 18 or until the mental disorder or disability subsides.

Factors Often to Blame for Car Accidents in Middletown, NY

Car accidents are like snowflakes; no two are exactly the same. One important detail that varies from case to case is the exact cause of a crash. It would be best to talk to an attorney and the police about your crash to determine exactly how it happened. In the meantime, below are a few common factors that lead to accidents in and around Middletown.

Traffic violations are very common. They are so common that many drivers do not even realize when they commit a traffic violation. Failing to signal a turn, forgetting to turn on your headlights, or ignoring signs are common reasons behind many accidents. Speed is another common violation that can make an accident much worse. Generally, the faster the vehicles are going, the worse the accident.

While many people like to unwind with a beer or glass of wine, doing so behind the wheel is dangerous and illegal. Alcohol is an unfortunately common reason for accidents. Intoxicated drivers are sometimes so impaired that they drive extremely fast without realizing it and cannot stop in time to avoid a crash, making for catastrophic accidents and injuries.

Inattentive driving is also very common, especially as cell phones and GPS devices have become more common. Anything that takes a driver’s attention from the road might be a dangerous distraction.

What You Need to Prove Your Car Accident Claims in Court in Middletown, NY

Everyone deserves their day in court, but proving your case once you get there is easier said than done. Proving the truth of the accident and how the defendant is at fault is harder than many plaintiffs realize. Our car accident lawyers can help you understand what we need to prove and how we must prove it.

The Defendant’s Negligence

Most car accident cases are based on negligence. While we might generally think of negligence as careless or reckless behavior, the law has carved out 4 distinct elements that must be proven to prove the defendant was negligent.

First, we must show that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. In car crash cases, this legal duty is often defined as the duty to drive with reasonable safety under the current circumstances while adhering to traffic laws. All drivers on the road share this duty.

Next, we must establish how the defendant breached or violated their legal duty. Since the duty in question is to drive safely, the breach would be something the defendant did that was unsafe. Running a red light, speeding, or drinking and driving are common examples of breaches of duty on the road.

The third element we have to establish is causation. Essentially, this involves showing how the defendant’s breach of their duty is the direct and proximate cause of the accident. Defendants sometimes try to claim some other intervening force caused the accident, and your attorney should be ready to refute such claims.

Finally, we need to prove your damages are real and not imagined or hypothetical. Medical records to show physical injuries and receipts or bills to prove other costs are important.

Evidence to Support Your Claims

To prove the defendant’s negligence, we need as much evidence as we can get our hands on. After a car crash, drivers often take pictures and record videos of the scene. Normally, this is for insurance purposes, but these recordings can also be used as evidence in the courtroom. Even if you are unsure whether you took pictures of anything important, you should show whatever you have to your lawyer for review.

If other drivers stop to help or you speak to anyone passing by the accident, you should exchange contact information. Even if they only stopped for a few minutes to make sure you were okay, these people might have seen important details. Their testimony in court might be paramount to your success.

If your accident is particularly complicated and hard to piece together, we might want to bring in experts. Accident reconstruction experts can use details from the accident to scientifically recreate the accident and determine how it happened. These experts often need details we gather ourselves in addition to information gathered from law enforcement officials who investigated the accident.

While experts might review police reports, the reports usually cannot be entered into evidence. They are normally considered inadmissible hearsay because they are compiled based on second-hand information gathered by police officers who did not actually witness the crash. Even so, we can check reports for information the police uncovered that we might have missed. Doing so might lead us to other evidence that is admissible.

Damages and Compensation in Your Middletown, NY Car Accident Case

Damages may be based on various factors. Perhaps the primary factor used when calculating damages is monetary costs. Economic damages are rooted in how much money they cost plaintiffs. Chief among these damages is your medical expenses. Whether you required serious medical treatment or your injuries were relatively less serious, you might have big hospital bills.

You might also incur significant costs when replacing or repairing damaged property. First, we should account for the damage to your car. Repairs might be extremely expensive. Alternatively, you might have to buy a completely new vehicle. You might also have lost personal belongings that were in your car during the crash.

Non-economic damages are more subjective and somewhat harder to prove. For example, mental turmoil from the accident and physical pain from your injuries might take a serious toll on your life, but they do not come with a price tag. Even so, juries may award significant damages for these painful experiences.

No caps are placed on economic or non-economic damages in New York, at least not by statute. However, this does not mean that damages may be totally unlimited. Generally, damages should accurately reflect the injuries and losses involved in the case. Awards of damages that are overly disproportionate to the losses they compensate may be reviewed and reduced by the court.

How Auto Insurance Might Affect Your Car Accident Case in Middletown, NY

New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. This means injured drivers file claims through their own insurance companies rather than third-party claims through another driver’s insurance company. According to I.S.C. Law § 5104(a), injured drivers are required to pursue a no-fault insurance claim as their sole legal remedy, and lawsuits are prohibited, barring special circumstances.

The serious injury rule is one such special circumstance that allows you to file a lawsuit. If you suffered a serious injury in the accident, you may file a lawsuit for damages. According to I.S.C. Law § 5102(d), a serious injury includes death, dismemberment, broken bones, loss or limitation of a body part or organ, loss of a fetus, significant disfigurement, or other medically determined injuries that impaired your ability to perform normal daily tasks for at least 90 days out of the 180 days right after the accident.

If you meet the serious injury rule, our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit against the other driver. If your accident was especially serious or your injuries are expected to have long-term consequences, this might be an easy hurdle to jump.

Determining Fault in Middletown, NY Car Accident Cases

A somewhat common defense tactic is to claim that the plaintiff somehow caused or contributed to the accident, thus relieving the defendant of some or all liability. According to C.V.P. § 1411, if the court determines that a plaintiff is contributorily negligent, recovery is not barred completely, but damages may be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s responsibility.

For example, if the court determines you are 20% responsible for the car accident, your overall damages award may be reduced by 20%. Since New York follows a pure comparative negligence rule, you may still recover damages even if you are mostly at fault. For example, you might be deemed 75% responsible for the crash and still recover 25% of the damages you claim.

The more evidence we have of the defendant’s negligence, the harder it will be for them to argue that you are also somehow responsible. Ultimately, the jury decides how much blame each party shares.

Ask Our Middletown, NY Car Accident Attorneys for Help Today

Speak to our car accident attorneys for a free review of your claims by calling The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.

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