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Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
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An Overview of Car Accident Lawsuits in NY

If you are injured in a car accident in New York, you may wonder how to obtain compensation for your losses. Because the state follows a no-fault insurance law, most claims are filed against your own policy or the policy of the driver, regardless of who was responsible for the accident. In some cases, however, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against a liable party.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP), or no-fault insurance, covers up to $50,000 in economic losses to a driver and all passengers injured in your vehicle. It will also provide coverage for pedestrians who are struck by your car. Economic losses include medical bills, lost earnings, and other “reasonable and necessary expenses.” To further understand how New York’s no-fault law works and whether you are eligible to take legal action, you need to speak to a car accident lawyer today.

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Grounds for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York

While many car accident claims will be covered by the state’s no-fault insurance, some, such as those with serious injuries, will exceed the $50,000 limit. If you or a passenger are seriously injured in a car accident caused by another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to file a car accident lawsuit in New York. You must, however, meet the state’s serious injury threshold.

You may meet New York’s serious injury threshold if you sustain:

  • A fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss or significant limitation of a body organ or system
  • Significant disfigurement or dismemberment
  • A non-permanent injury or impairment that prevents you from performing all of your normal daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident.

The serious injury threshold will also be met if the accident results in the death of your loved one. If you meet this threshold, you may be entitled to non-economic losses. Non-economic losses include compensation for things like your pain and suffering. Complex accident cases involving severe harm to yourself or a loved one should be handled by an experienced attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal challenges of filing a lawsuit.

The Process of Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit

If you are injured in a car accident, there are several steps that you need to take in order to protect your rights. It is imperative that you follow these steps in order to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

A step-by-step guide to filing a car accident lawsuit in New York:

  • Contact local law enforcement. After an accident, you need to contact 9-1-1 to report the incident. If there are any injuries or deaths, you are required by state law to report the accident.
  • Collect evidence. In addition to the investigation report provided by the law enforcement officer, you will want to obtain evidence to prove your case. Evidence may include pictures of your property damage and injuries, as well as medical records. You will also want to provide information related to lost wages and other out-of-pocket losses caused by the accident
  • Seek medical attention. In order to prove your injuries, you will need to provide documentation about the severity of the harm caused by the accident. Make sure to seek medical treatment immediately after the accident so that you can submit evidence of your diagnosis and care plan
  • Speak to a car accident lawyer in New York. It is essential to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help determine how to proceed with your case, including whether you should file a claim through your own no-fault insurance coverage or if you are eligible to file a civil lawsuit against a liable party.

It is advisable to write down as much as you can remember before, during, and after the collision. Make sure, however, that you consult with an attorney before making any statements to the insurance company. A car accident attorney can help guide you through the claims process and ensure that you do not jeopardize your potential recovery in your case.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in New York

According to New York’s Civil Practice Laws & Rules Section 214, a car accident victim has up to three (3) years to file a lawsuit against a liable party. The statute of limitations generally starts from the date of the accident or injury discovery. If your loved one is killed as a result of the accident, you usually have two (2) years from the date of their death to file a claim.

The 3-year statute of limitations applies to cases against a private individual or party. If you are suing a government agency, you may have a much shorter amount of time to file a lawsuit. For instance, if you are filing a lawsuit against the City of New York, you may have as little as 90 days to take legal action.

In any action for personal injury, you must follow the applicable statutes of limitations. Failure to file a claim within the legal timelines can result in your case being dismissed, and you may lose the right to pursue litigation. An attorney can help you understand the statute of limitations that applies to your case and how to ensure that you do not violate these legal requirements.

Roles and Responsibilities of Involved Parties: Plaintiff vs Defendant

After a car accident in New York, each party has distinct roles and responsibilities. Working with an attorney can help ensure that you meet your legal obligations and protect your right to recovery.

Plaintiff’s responsibilities after a car accident: The plaintiff in a car accident or the person who is filing the claim is responsible for initiating the lawsuit. They must provide evidence to support their case, including documentation of their injuries and all of their losses.

Defendant’s responsibilities after a car accident: The defendant must respond to the filing and may need to provide evidence of who or what caused the accident if they are disputing liability.

It is important for both parties to engage in settlement negotiations to determine if a fair outcome can be reached prior to going to court. Each party, however, will also need to prepare for litigation and will want to consult with expert witnesses to help prove their case. Physical evidence, such as law enforcement findings and official accident reports, may also prove critical in the case.

Trial Process and Litigation for Car Accident Lawsuits

If a fair and full settlement cannot be reached, the case may need to be set for trial. The trial process for a car accident lawsuit can be extensive and complicated. It is important to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible to help you navigate the complexities. There will be a series of events that happen after a complaint is filed, such as mediation, pre-trial conferences, discovery, and depositions.

The trial phase begins with jury selection. Once a jury is selected, each party will have the opportunity to make opening statements, put on witnesses to help prove their claim, cross-examine the other party’s witnesses, and make closing statements. The case will then go to verdict, where a jury will deliberate. If the outcome of the case is not favorable, you may be able to file an appeal.

Tips for Success in a New York Car Accident Lawsuit

If you are injured in a car accident, there are several things that you can do to strengthen your case. For instance, taking photos of your losses, such as your injuries, can help prove the extent of the harm caused by the accident.

Tips for success in a car accident case in New York:

  • Always consult with an attorney before making any statements or accepting a settlement.
  • Make sure you understand all legal deadlines, including the statute of limitations in your case.
  • Collect evidence in your case and present it to your attorney.
  • Provide a copy of all medical records to help prove your claim.
  • Seek medical attention immediately after the accident. Any delays or gaps in treatment can negatively impact your case.
  • Stay informed about your case by having clear communication with your attorney.

Following these tips can help ensure that you receive a favorable outcome to your case. Make sure that you understand what you need to do to protect your right to recovery.

Speak With a New York Car Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a New York car accident, it is strongly recommended that you speak with an attorney. Contact King Law to discuss your case with a qualified lawyer. Our legal team can help you maximize your compensation and ensure you receive the financial recovery you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the steps to file a car accident lawsuit in New York?
The first thing you should do to file a car accident lawsuit in New York is consult with an attorney. An attorney can walk you through the process, including filing a complaint and ensuring that you meet all legal deadlines.
How is fault determined in a New York car accident lawsuit?
Fault is determined by a number of factors in a New York car accident lawsuit, including evidence that can substantiate your claim, official reports by law enforcement, independent investigations, and expert testimony.
Can I file a lawsuit if I was partially at fault in a car accident in New York?
You may still be able to file a lawsuit even if you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. Your compensation, however, may be reduced in proportion to your percentage of the fault.
What types of damages can I recover in a New York car accident lawsuit?
New York’s no-fault insurance covers economic losses such as your medical bills, lost wages, and other reasonable expenses related to the accident. If you meet the state’s serious injury threshold, you may be able to file a claim for non-economic losses such as your pain and suffering.

How long does a car accident lawsuit typically take in New York?
It can take months to resolve a car accident lawsuit in New York. The extent of your injuries, who or what caused the accident, and whether liability is disputed can all affect the amount of time that a car accident lawsuit takes to resolve.
What happens if the other driver involved in the accident is uninsured or underinsured in New York?
If the other driver involved in the accident is uninsured or underinsured, you may be able to file a claim through your uninsured motorist coverage. It is still recommended that you speak to an attorney to determine your legal options.
Can I still file a lawsuit if the car accident resulted in property damage only?
You may be able to take legal action against the party that caused the accident if you sustained property damage. No-fault insurance does not cover your property damages.
What should I do immediately after a car accident in New York to strengthen my lawsuit?
You should seek medical treatment and consult with an attorney immediately after a car accident in New York to strengthen your lawsuit. It is also advisable to take pictures and videos of your losses to help prove your claim.
Is there a cap on damages in car accident lawsuits in New York?
There is no cap on damages in car accident lawsuits in New York. However, you will need to meet the state’s serious injury threshold or exceed the no-fault limit of $50,000 to be eligible to file a lawsuit.
Do I need a lawyer to file a car accident lawsuit in New York?
While you are not legally required to retain an attorney to file a car accident lawsuit in New York, it is strongly recommended that you consult with one. Car accident claims can be complicated, an attorney can help you navigate the complexities of your case.