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Auto Accident Compensation

Your Rights and Responsibilities When Involved in an Auto Accident in New York

The law places a duty on every person to "act reasonably" under the circumstances presented.  This is the standard used to judge whether your conduct was negligent, careless or reckless.  Under the circumstances existing, how would the reasonable person have acted or responded? 

In order to assess the reasonableness of the other driver's actions or responses, good lawyers determine the facts from the evidence and witnesses, and then review the applicable law.  The other driver's conduct, either by affirmative action or by omission, is judged to evaluate whether is was reasonable and whether he or she contributed to causing the accident.  In motor vehicle accident lawsuits, it is necessary to first determine whether there was driver fault.  A person's failure to operate a vehicle with reasonable care is negligence.  If negligent motor vehicle operation causes injury to another person, the owner and operator of that vehicle will likely be found liable for any damages proximately caused by that negligence, if the victim of the motor vehicle accident sustained "serious injuries" as defined by the prevailing law.

ECONOMIC LOSSES - Medical expenses and lost wages
In New York, which is a "no fault" state, your own insurance company usually covers your basic economic loss up to a total $50,000, unless you have additional personal injury protection, which varies depending upon the type of automobile insurance coverage in effect at the time of the accident.  Such economic losses or damages include:

  • Hospital & Ambulance Expenses
  • Medical Expenses
  • Diagnostic Testing and Treatment
  • Actual Lost Wages up to the limits of the policy (generally either $2,000 or $4,000/mo)
  • Limited household help and transportation expenses to and from the doctor

Property Damage
If you have collision coverage, your insurance company, after you meet a deductible, will pay for repairs up to the fair market value of your vehicle, regardless of fault.  In the absence of your own coverage, the other driver's insurance company may pay for repairs but discussions with the adverse insurer should be conducted only after you contact a lawyer and obtain proper counsel. Some unscrupulous insurers will engage in deceptive practices by attempting to either under-compensate you for your actual loss or trying to get you to sign releases or waivers of your all your rights to sue them or their insured driver.  These insurers often send their investigators to your home or office and offer you a check, which you believe will cover the cost of your car repairs but which actually includes your personal injuries.  Some unwary clients have come to us with significant injuries, which have required surgery, only to find that they are barred from suing because they signed a document from the other driver's insurer, in which they gave up their right to sue completely.  Never sign legal documents without first consulting with a lawyer.

NON-ECONOMIC LOSSES  - Pain & Suffering and Permanent Disability
However, the most significant damages or losses are often non-economic losses and they frequently require an attorney to secure compensation since they cannot be recovered from your own insurer:

  • Pain & Suffering
  • Loss of Future Income and Continuing Expenses beyond the basic economic loss
  • Mental Anguish
  • Cosmetic or Physical Disfigurement
To recover these losses, you need a lawyer with skill and experience in the field of personal injury.  To determine if you are entitled to this type of recovery, contact an experienced Bronx auto accident attorney at Alan Stern Law today.