Nobody expects to suffer severe or life-threatening injuries in a Rochester car accident, but a collision can happen almost anywhere and at any time when another driver is negligent. While it may be difficult to consider the possibility of filing a car accident lawsuit in Rochester when you are dealing with the physical pain and loss from the collision, medical bills and lost wages can add up quickly, and your insurance payout may not cover the full amount of your losses. When you have suffered significant losses in excess of $50,000 and you have not been fully compensated through your auto insurance claim, a Rochester car accident lawyer may be able to help you file a successful car crash lawsuit.
If you are considering a lawsuit, it is critical to have one of our aggressive Rochester auto accident lawyers on your side to give you the best chance of obtaining a fair settlement or verdict. Our firm routinely represents upstate New York injury victims in car accident lawsuits, and we want to tell you more about seeking damages in one of these cases.
You Will Need to Meet the “Serious Injury” Threshold to Seek Damages in a Lawsuit
Under New York Insurance Law, you cannot be eligible to seek damages in a car accident lawsuit unless your case meets the “serious injury” threshold requirement. What does this mean? In short, your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is designed to cover a “basic economic loss,” which New York defines as “up to fifty thousand dollars per person” in medical expenses and lost earnings from work.
If you have suffered a serious injury, the assumption is that you have sustained more than a basic economic loss and you may need to seek additional damages by filing a car accident lawsuit. In order to do so, your injury must be defined as a “serious injury,” which is a personal injury that results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent use of a body organ; or a injury or impairment that prevents the injured person from performing all of their normal daily activities, among others.
Your car accident lawyer can help determine whether your injury meets the requirement for filing a lawsuit and seeking damages.
You Should Be Eligible to Seek Compensatory Damages
When you do file a car accident lawsuit, you should be able to seek two different forms of compensatory damages: economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost earnings), as well as non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of your enjoyment of life).
Your Car Accident Damages Will Not Be Capped
Your car accident damages will not be capped. New York law does not cap economic or non-economic damages in car accident lawsuits (or in any lawsuits, in fact). Accordingly, if the court determines that you are entitled to receive substantially more non-economic damages based on your attorney’s presentation of the case and the injuries you have suffered, that damages award will not be capped or limited in any way unless the court determines that you are also partially to blame for the accident.
Your Own Fault Can Limit the Amount of Damages You Recover
While New York does not cap compensatory damages, a car accident victim’s total amount of damages recovered can be reduced if the defendant successfully proves that the plaintiff also bears some fault for the car accident. Under New York’s contributory negligence law, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff was also at fault in causing a car accident or the severity of the injuries, then the plaintiff’s compensatory damages award will be reduced based on that plaintiff’s portion of the fault. However, it is important to remember that, even when a defendant raises the issue of contributory negligence, your car accident lawyer can present evidence to make the case that you do not bear any responsibility and that your damages award should not be reduced.
In Some Cases, It May Be Possible to Seek Punitive Damages
Although it is rare, if a car accident resulted from another motorist’s criminal indifference to the life or safety of other drivers on the road, it may be possible to seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
Seek Advice from a Car Accident Attorney in Rochester
If you were seriously injured in an upstate New York car accident, you need a dedicated Rochester car accident attorney on your side to fight for the damages you deserve. One of the advocates at our firm can speak with you today about the damages you may be able to obtain by filing a car accident lawsuit. Contact King Law today to get started on your case.