If you have suffered an injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident in New York you may be entitled to financial compensation from the responsible person’s insurance policy. However, before you receive compensation your New York State personal injury attorney will need to establish two elements: liability and damages.
Liability can be established by proving that your accident was caused in whole, or in part, by another person’s negligence. Since New York is a comparative negligence state, it is not necessary to prove the other driver was entirely at fault for the accident. However, the monetary award that you receive will be reduced by your proportionate share of fault for the accident.
Once liability is established, your attorney will need to prove that you suffered a serious injury before you are entitled to receive financial compensation. Since New York is a No-Fault state, it is mandatory to establish that you suffered a serious injury as opposed to a minor or superficial injury. New York State’s No-Fault Law defines a serious injury as having suffered one of the following eight types of injury:
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of a 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 ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment. (New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 5102(d))
While some of these injuries are straightforward and easy to understand, others are extremely complicated. The best way to determine if you have suffered an injury that meets the threshold law for New York State is to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury attorney can gather and review your medical records related to injuries that you suffered as a result of your motor vehicle accident. Once reviewed, if the attorney believes that your injury breeches the threshold for serious injury, they can submit your claim to the insurance carrier for the responsible party. If the insurance carrier for the responsible party agrees with your attorney’s assessment, they may make a financial offer to settle your injury case. If the parties agree on a fair amount of compensation for your injury claim, the matter can be settled without court intervention.
However, if the carrier does not agree that your injuries reach the level of seriousness as defined by the threshold law they may make a low offer or choose not to make an offer to settle your case at all. In that scenario, your lawyer may choose to file a lawsuit and have the issue decided in court. While initiating a lawsuit may eventually result in a trial on the matter, there are often scenario’s wherein the case is resolved prior to a trial.
To best understand your legal rights with respect to financial compensation following an accident, you should consult with an injury attorney. Most injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Further, they usually work on a contingency basis. This means that they will only receive compensation if they win your case.