When it comes to personal injury claims, motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in New York City can be some of the most involved. Because there is so much at stake, fighting for your life or the life of a loved one takes on an especially urgent meaning.
Not only do accident victims have to fight insurance companies to keep them from lowballing their claims, but the delays can also cause many people to end up struggling to make ends meet and more likely to settle for less. Deciding whether to go that route or to pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver can depend on the type of accident that occurred, the evidence that can prove who was at fault and if there may be third parties involved.
While it might seem that the best and quickest way to go is to settle with the insurance company, doing this without looking at all the legal options available to you can prove to be financially devastating, especially if your injuries require extensive medical attention. It may help to examine first all the aspects of an MVA claim.
First, to settle with insurance or go to court?
Some of the biggest mistakes to avoid after getting into an accident include:
- Not calling the police. After a traffic accident, people want to resolve things and get back to their lives as soon as possible. One of the most important pieces of evidence is the police report. Without it, it will be difficult to file a successful claim.
- Not exchanging information. If the accident was one driver’s fault, not getting their information will make it almost impossible to pursue a claim either through their insurance or in civil court.
- Settling with insurance before contacting an attorney. Insurance companies are in the business to make money, not to give it away. Their first and final offer will most likely be far below what the claim is worth.
- Not gathering evidence. Along with the police report, taking photos that show damage to the vehicle provides documentation that will be important when filing a claim. Getting contact information from witnesses will help in establishing the facts in the case.
- Waiting too long to file a claim. The sooner the injured party brings the claim, the better. New York has strict laws concerning when claims may be served.
What can complicate the claims process?
Fortunately, New York’s no-fault insurance laws allow the injured party to receive compensation from their insurance for most medical expenses, economic costs and other damages. If the claim is denied, however, the injured party may have to submit medical bills through private insurance and hope to receive compensation later.
It is the insurance of the at-fault driver that is responsible for property damage, and the injured party may file a third-party claim for the full amount of damages. Except in certain circumstances, however, it is not possible to receive compensation for pain and suffering under the no-fault insurance system.
Depending on the circumstances and how serious the injuries to the accident victim have been, it is possible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. If the other driver was at fault and the injured party cannot receive full compensation for their losses from the no-fault insurance system, they can also claim pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.