How to Seek Compensation After a Car Accident
No matter where you live, accidents are an inevitable part of life. In the busy streets of New York, motorists and pedestrians alike can find themselves at a high risk of injury. With over 100,000 car accidents in New York in 2022 alone, it’s crucial to know what steps to take to seek compensation if you're injured in a car accident resulting from negligence. Keep reading to learn how to exercise your rights after a wrongful injury.
Who Is Liable in a New York Car Accident?
First and foremost, it’s imperative to establish liable parties in the car accident to seek compensation. This can be a complex and challenging task, especially without sufficient knowledge of personal injury law. Collaborating with a qualified car accident lawyer is crucial to navigating your case efficiently and effectively, as well as maximizing the value of your claim.
Depending on the accident, various parties can be held liable for injuries in a car crash, including:
- Negligent drivers: If another motorist's negligence resulted in the accident, such as reckless driving or operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be liable for damages.
- Vehicle manufacturers: If a defect in one of the vehicles caused the accident, the car manufacturer might be held liable.
- Pedestrians and cyclists: In some cases, pedestrians or cyclists may be found partially at fault if they disregard traffic laws.
- Government entities: If poor road conditions or inadequate signage contribute to an accident, a government entity might be held responsible.
- Employers: If the accident involved a commercial vehicle, the employer could be held liable, especially if they did not perform necessary background checks or enforce safety measures.
The victim (plaintiff) bears the burden of proof in car accident claims, meaning that you are responsible for showing by a preponderance of the evidence (e.g., it is more likely than not) that the defendant’s negligence directly caused your injury.
To successfully establish liability in a car accident, it’s imperative to seek counsel from an experienced car accident attorney who can fortify your claim with relevant evidence and present a compelling argument on your behalf.
A qualified attorney can help you establish the key elements necessary to recover compensation, including:
- Duty of Care: You must demonstrate that the defendant owed you a duty of care. For example, motorists are reasonably expected to follow traffic regulations.
- Breach of Duty: Next, you must show that the offending party breached their duty of care. For instance, if a fellow driver caused your injury by driving recklessly or disregarding traffic signals, this likely constitutes a breach.
- Damages: You must also demonstrate that the defendant’s breach of duty resulted in actual damages, such as injuries or other losses.
- Proximate Cause: Finally, you're responsible for establishing the defendant's negligence as the proximate cause in your case. It's important to work with a qualified attorney who can prove that the other party's carelessness directly caused the accident.
Keep in mind that the mere existence of an injury isn't enough to recover compensation. To establish negligence by the defendant, securing experienced representation is crucial to establishing causation and maximizing the damages available to you.
Recoverable Damages in NY Car Accidents
The first step to seeking justice in a car accident lawsuit is to assess the damages available to you. “Damages” refer to compensation that injured parties can seek after a wrongful injury to cover financial and non-financial losses.
Depending on the circumstances, various types of damages can be recovered in a car accident claim, including:
- Economic Damages: These compensate for financial losses (e.g., quantifiable monetary amounts). Common losses covered by economic damages include property damage, medical bills, lost earnings, and rehabilitative treatment.
- Non-Economic Damages: These compensate for non-financial losses that aren’t easily quantifiable, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and scarring/disfigurement.
In some cases, victims can also recover punitive damages if the accident involved extreme negligence. Keep in mind that punitive damages, unlike economic and non-economic damages, are meant to punish the defendant for willful and malicious behavior, rather than compensating the victim for actual losses.
5 Steps to Recover Damages in a Car Accident
To recover damages in a car accident claim, it’s essential to take the following steps:
1. Seek immediate medical attention.
Your health is your top priority. Even if your injuries appear minor initially, underlying injuries like internal bleeding or brain trauma can manifest later. A timely medical examination can prevent potential health complications and serve as crucial evidence in your compensation claim.
2. Report the accident as soon as possible.
Notify your insurance company about the accident promptly. It's important to understand the details of your policy, such as coverage limits, deductibles, and the process for filing a claim.
3. Document the scene of the accident.
Collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible, such as photos of the crash site, witness statements, and a copy of the police report. All of these can serve as powerful tools in proving the other party's negligence.
4. Gather evidence.
Keep a record of your physical and emotional injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses related to the accident. These records can help quantify your economic and non-economic damages.
5. Secure experienced representation.
Most importantly, it’s critical to consult with a skilled attorney who can help navigate the legal intricacies of your case and ensure your rights are protected. Your lawyer can also provide valuable counsel during negotiations with insurance companies to ensure you’re compensated fairly, as well as represent your best interests in court if necessary.
Remember, time is of the essence after a wrongful injury. The sooner you start the process, the better your chances of securing a favorable outcome in your claim.
Helping New Yorkers Seek Justice After Negligence
At the Law Office of Seni Popat, P.C., our seasoned personal injury lawyer has represented hundreds of injured New Yorkers in Queens and beyond. With over a decade of experience and a proven reputation for professionalism and excellence, clients trust Attorney Popat to deliver the reliable representation they deserve after a wrongful injury. If you were harmed by someone else’s negligence, don’t wait to secure the skilled advocacy you deserve.
Injured in a car crash? Our Queens attorney can aggressively pursue justice on your behalf. Call (718) 340-3385 to schedule a free consultation.