Legal Question in Insurance Law in New York

My mother got hit by an suv while crossing the street (one way). The car was going on reverse and hit her on her left side. As a consequence she has a broken nose, arm and toes, plus swollen feet. She might need surgery for her arm.

The car insurance, Geico, in NYC told her that they would cover her medical bills up to $50 000. My mother consulted with a lawyer and would like to only ask for compensation from the insurance and not personally from the driver.(meaning she would not like to make a "profit" from the driver) Is this possible? Also, the lawyer mentioned that he is entitled to 1/3 of her compensation. Is this an acceptable and set rate? Thank you.

Asked on 5/24/13, 11:17 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

David Slater David P. Slater, Esq.

Yes. How much ins. coverage does the car have? She may need to make an underinsured claim. Good luck.

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Answered on 5/24/13, 11:28 am

It is not as if GEICO is doing your mother a favor. By law, the insurance company is required to pay up to $50,000.00 for medical expenses and lost wages if your mother misses time from work. That mandate is part of the New York State No-Fault law.

As far as your mother's claim for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the fractured nose, arm and toes, that is a different matter. For that your mother will have to make a claim against the negligent driver's insurance company, GEICO in order to recover monetary damages. If GEICO is not willing to compensate your mother appropriately, then a lawsuit will be necessary.

With regards to the 1/3 agreement with the lawyer, he is only entitled to whatever compensation is stated in the retainer agreement that your mother will sign. While a 1/3 split of the recovery is pretty standard in prosecuting negligence cases, your mother should be careful before signing any agreement as they sometimes ask for additional monies, such as additional fees for processing your mother's no-fault claims. Our office does not charge additional fees.

I understand that your mother is only interested in obtaining a maximum settlement within the driver's insurance policy. That is possible, but I would not let the driver's insurance company know of that intention. Also, if your mother has a vehicle in her house, she pay pay extra premiums for something called "underinsurance" and may be able to recover even more money for her injuries that just the driver's insurance policy.

If you have any further questions or would like to speak about your mother's case, please do not hesitate to call me at (212) 532-1200. Our office has over 100 years of combined experience in prosecuting personal injury cases. We are not a general practice, personal injury cases are our sole focus. Please ask for Matthew Schroeder.

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Answered on 5/24/13, 11:58 am

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