You may be entitled to financial compensation if you were injured in an accident with a motor vehicle. Passengers, drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists may all have a potential claim.
No Fault and Cars With No Insurance
If you are injured in a car accident in New York, you are entitled to have some insurance company pay for up to $50,000 of your medical treatment, regardless of who is ultimately found responsible for the accident. The trade-off for this free medical treatment, is that in order to get money for pain and suffering, i.e., cash money paid to you, the one who has been injured in an accident, you have to prove that you have sustained a “serious injury” as defined by insurance law 5102.
If you are a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a skateboarder, and are hit by a car and need medical treatment, the insurance company for the car that hit you is on the hook for your medical treatment, up to $50,000. If you are the driver of or a passenger on a motorcycle and are hit by a car, you are not entitled to any no-fault benefits. The trade-off here is that in order to get money for pain and suffering, you do not need to meet the serious injury threshold requirements. (If you are merely touching your motorcycle, but not riding it, and are hit by a car, that is considered the “use or operation” of a motorcycle. You will not be entitled to no fault benefits, and you don't have to meet the serious injury threshold.)
If you are inside a car, whether as driver or passenger, and are injured in an accident, the insurance for the car that you are in, the “host” vehicle, is your no fault insurance company.
The amount you receive from your insurance carrier will depend on your coverage plan. The vast majority of car insurance policies in New York carry the state minimum of $50,000 per person. If you receive a cash settlement after the no fault insurance company has paid for some or all of your medical bills, the car insurance company is not entitled to be reimbursed from your settlement for the money that it has spent on your no fault insurance, up to $50,000. However, if your car insurance policy contained a limit of more than $50,000, for instance, $75,000, the insurance company may be able to get back the money paid over and beyond the minimum $50,000 that is required.
If you are injured in an accident by someone who does not have any insurance at all, or if you are injured in a hit and run accident, you may still be able to get money for your medical treatment (no fault payments to your medical providers) and you may also be able to get money for pain and suffering, assuming that you have sustained a “serious injury.” If you yourself own a car, or live in the same household as someone who owns a car, then that car insurance company becomes your de facto no fault carrier. If your personal injury attorney believes that the injury you sustained in the accident rises to the level of a “serious injury” then a claim could be filed with the same car insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits. Your insurance company, or that of your relative or friend with whom you live, would step into the shoes of the uninsured driver and defend the claim as if it had insured this person, or phantom person. Having uninsured motorist coverage is definitely no guarantee of payment in the event of an accident. It simply means there is the possibly to get paid.
In this situation, a claim can be made against the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation or MVAIC. This is a corporation that is funded by all the insurance companies that do business in the state of New York. MVAIC will become your de facto no fault carrier, and also defend the bodily injury portion of your claim. Much like an uninsured motorist claim, MVAIC steps into the shoes of the hit and run driver and defends the case as if it insured this person.
Serious Injury Requirement
You may seek financial compensation from the opposing party for pain and suffering damages only if you can prove that you have met the statutorily defined “serious injury.”
The categories are:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of usage of body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person's usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
Meeting the threshold is very difficult. Only an experienced injury lawyer can help make sure you receive financial compensation for your ordeal.
Why Choose Haicken Law For Your New York Car Accident Lawyer
When choosing a New York Car Accident Lawyer, it's important to choose someone who has experience getting results. The attorneys at Haicken Law have consistently gotten 6 and 7 figure results for car accident cases in New York. We have successfully represented people who were injured in every conceivable way someone could get injured in a car accident:
- Passengers in car on car accidents,
- Drivers hit by cars or trucks,
- Pedestrians hit by cars, trucks, motorcycles, and electric bicycles,
- Bicyclists hit by cars or other bicycles,
- Motorcyclists hit by cars, other motorcycles, or trucks
Some of our recent successes include:
- $2.5 Million settlement for a bicyclist doored by a truck
- $2 Million settlement for a motorcyclist hit by a truck
- $325,000 for a pedestrian hit by an electric bicycle
- $75,000 for a bicyclist hit by another bicyclist
We have handled cases in all of the 5 boroughs of New York City, as well as the surrounding counties. We regularly represent clients in Nassau and Suffolk County on Long Island, as well as Westchester. As all court "appearances" are now on zoom, we can handle cases anywhere in New York State without having to even get up from our desks.
At Haicken Law, all of our attorneys have at least 15 years of experience. Your case will never be pawned off on a junior associate fresh out of law school. Additionally, we keep our caseload small. We only accept a handful of all of the cases that come to us. By keeping a small caseload, we are able to give each case the personal attention necessary to strive for the maximum compensation possible on each case. The cases don't risk getting lost in the shuffle.
Also, attorney Haicken and the rest of the attorneys at Haicken Law have all worked for insurance companies. We have been behind enemy lines. We know the tricks that insurance companies pull. We use this insider knowledge to beat the insurance companies at their own game.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Settlement?
The vast majority of our cases have settled within 3 years of the date of accident. However, there is no guarantee. Because of the backlog caused by Covid, your case could drag on for many years. Your case could also settle very quickly. Rest assured that at Haicken Law, we will do everything we can to get you the most money possible, in the quickest amount of time.
We don't get paid until you get paid, so we have every incentive to maximize the value of your case. Our job is to push to get your case to trial. The closer we get to trial, the more frightened the insurance company gets. They don't want a jury of your peers deciding the amount. The old saying is "The heat of the courthouse melts the gold." As we get near court, the insurance adjusters start reaching for their checkbooks.
While we aggressively push you case to trial, there is an enormous backlog due to Covid. See below for a timeline on personal injury cases in New York.
Here are some of the factors that determine how long it will take to get a settlement
- For car accident cases - how much insurance is available? It's perfectly legal to drive in New York with only $25,000 of liability insurance. Many cars in New York have just this amount. If you were hit by someone with a small amount of insurance, such as $25,000, and you have a very serious injury such as a broken bone, your case will probably settle quickly. It could be just a few months. If there is a bigger policy, and thus more of a chance to get a big payday, your case will probably take longer.
- How seriously are you injured? A minor injury case is more likely to settle quickly. Examples of this are cases where there is a slip and fall and the injured person only sustains bruising, pain, and perhaps minor strains and sprains of muscles.
If the insurance company knows that their client caused the accident, there's a good chance a case with these types of injuries could settle quickly. An example would be a slip and fall where someone forgot to put out a wet floor sign.
When the insurance company knows that they're at fault, and the injuries aren't too bad, it makes more sense for them to pay a small settlement quickly, rather than paying a lawyer to defend the case for years. Insurance companies refer to these cases as having "nuisance" value, i.e., somewhere in the range of $5,000 – $25,000.
- How long are you willing to wait to get your money? You may have a serious injury - broken bones, surgery etc. - and perhaps the accident is clearly due to someone else's negligence. So let's say your lawyer thinks your case is worth $250,000. However, the insurance company decides they will offer you $150,000 now. Your lawyer tells you that if you wait until the case gets to trial, the insurance company will get scared of a jury verdict and will probably offer around $250,000. Do you accept the $150,000 now, or are you prepared to wait another 2 years until trial? If you need the money now, we can probably get you a quick settlement, but it will not be nearly what you deserve.
Timeline for a typical New York Personal Injury Case. Two to Five years.
But who really knows?
The accident occurs. Now we get your case in front of a judge. 3-6 months.
Your attorney gathers the police report/accident report, medical records, witness statements etc. Suit is file and served on the defendant(s). The defendant then has 21 days to answer.
This initial period generally takes about 3 months. However, if the defendant - the driver who hit you, the owner of the bar where you fell etc., refuses to turn the legal paperwork over to his insurance company, it could be more like 6 months.
Once the defendant has answered, your lawyer will file an RJI - Request for Judicial Intervention. This is your lawyer telling the court system that he'd like the case to get in front of a judge. The RJI asks for a PC - Preliminary Conference. The PC is the opportunity for both sides to explain the case to a judge. It is usually a judge's clerk a/k/a "law secretary" who handles the conference. From the date the RJI is filed up until the PC is usually about 3 months. Some counties now issue a PC order without even having a conference.
Whether the PC is held or whether the order is generated automatically, a preliminary conference order is produced by the court. This lays out the discovery schedule.
Discovery 1-3 years
Discovery is essentially the investigative period of a lawsuit. The parties exchange paper documents - accident reports, medical records, witness statements, insurance policies.
Depositions are held.
A deposition is a pre-trial question and answer session where the lawyer for one party questions another party's witness under oath. All the lawyers on the case are present as is a stenographer, what we call a "court reporter." Before Covid, depositions took place in lawyers offices. Now, they all take place on zoom.
After depositions, the insurance company is allowed to have their doctor(s) examine you. They can have specialists examine you regarding any injury you claim. So, you may have to see an orthopedic surgeon and a neurologist for example.
The discovery period could be done in less than a year, or it could take many years. Factors that lead to long discovery period -
- Multiple defendants - many cars in the accident, many contractors at a construction site etc.
- Multiple surgeries - if you have a deposition, and then have a surgery, the defendants are entitled to review all of your new medical records, have another deposition, and have a doctor examine you again.
- New parties are discovered - sometimes in a complex case such as a construction accident, a new party emerges. Sometimes they are discovered by a defendant, and sometimes by your lawyer. This new party has to be brought into the case, and then has an opportunity to review all the documents and re do depositions that have already taken place.
- New witnesses are found - sometimes key witnesses vanish only to be found later. When they turn up, their depositions have to be taken. These depositions often lead to other witnesses who also have to be deposed.
The Trial Calendar. 1-3 more years of waiting.
Once discovery is done, your case is placed on the trial calendar. It is at this point that many insurance companies start talking settlement. However, because of the Covid backlog, insurance companies now realize that being on the trial calendar doesn't mean what it used to mean. It could still be 3 more years from this point.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Car Accident Attorney?
In New York, accident lawyers work on contingency. This means there's no fee unless we win. It even rhymes in Spanish. "No Cobramos si no ganamos." You never actually have to write your lawyer a check in a personal injury case. The fee comes out of the settlement at the end of the case.
If, G-d forbid, your case is dismissed by a judge or jury, you would not owe your lawyer anything. Because of the contingency fee system, anyone, regardless of economic status, can have a case. You can have access to top notch lawyers even though you cannot afford one.
A New York personal injury lawyer will have an incentive to get you as much as possible, as quickly as possible. We don't get paid until you get paid.
New York accident attorneys don't charge by the hour, so there's never a fee for a phone call. The call is always free. If you've been injured in an accident in New York, call our team of New York lawyers today. 212-LAW-TEAM. 212-529-8326.