When you are injured in a car accident in Queens, the last thing you want to hear is that you are being blamed for causing the incident. Luckily, car accidents are handled differently in New York than in most other states.
New York is a no-fault car accident state. This means that you can file an insurance claim regardless of who is responsible for the car wreck.
However, accident victims who sustain severe injuries might be able to file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In that case, you do not want to be blamed for the accident because that could create personal liability for damages. It could also reduce how much you are entitled to recover for damages if you are the accident victim.
All drivers in New York must have minimum amounts of car insurance. You must purchase at least:
No-fault insurance covers the driver and other covered individuals for specific losses even if that driver caused the car accident. PIP Pays up to 80 percent of lost earnings. It also pays for necessary and reasonable medical expenses.
However, no-fault insurance does not compensate accident victims for other damages, including non-economic damages such as:
However, if an accident victim sustains serious injuries, they can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage. In addition, they may seek compensation for non-economic damages and full compensation for all economic damages related to the accident.
Further, if the accident victim is partially to blame for the cause of the car accident, contributory negligence can decrease the value of their personal injury claim.
Each state has some form of comparative negligence law. The law allocates damages in a personal injury case when both parties are partially to blame for the cause of the accident.
A few states bar recovery if an accident victim has any percentage of fault for the cause of their injuries. Other states set a 50 or 51 percent bar for damages.
New York’s contributory negligence law is a pure comparative fault law. The law allows an accident victim to recover compensation for damages, even if they are 99% at fault for the cause of the crash.
If you are injured in a car crash and you are 50 percent at fault, the amount of compensation you receive for your damages is reduced by one-half. For example, you and another driver are in a red-light accident. You file a lawsuit seeking damages.
The jury concludes that both drivers contributed to the accident. Accordingly, they assign you 20 percent of the fault and the other driver 80 percent of the fault. They award damages to you totaling $300,000.
Because your negligence for the cause of the car crash was 20 percent, the at-fault insurance company and/or the other driver is only liable for $240,000.
Therefore, being blamed for an accident can be costly. Insurance companies understand comparative negligence laws and use those laws to their advantage.
Insurance claims adjusters try to contact accident victims before they talk to a personal injury attorney. The adjusters want to obtain written or recorded statements from the injured parties.
The purpose of the statements is not to open a claim or pay you money for your damages. Instead, the claims adjusters hope to get you to say something the company can use to allege comparative negligence.
For example, the claims adjuster asks you what you were doing the day of the accident. They may ask you about your daily routines. An experienced claims adjuster asks questions that appear friendly and relaxed.
However, imagine you state that you were running late that day during your conversation about how busy life is and how your kids do not like to get up in the morning. The claims adjuster keeps talking about traffic and rushing to get to work. You agree and state that you were distracted and in a hurry.
In a few weeks, you might receive a letter from the insurance company alleging that because you were speeding and distracted while driving, you contributed to the cause of the crash.
Insurance adjusters are experts at taking comments out of context, asking leading questions, and portraying victims as questionable drivers. For that reason, it is not in your best interest to talk to the liability insurance company before consulting a Queens personal injury attorney.
Never agree to provide a recorded or written statement or to answer questions on a recorded line. It is also wise to remember that many insurance companies record telephone calls without telling you. New York is a one-party consent state for recording calls, so the insurance company does not need to inform you of a recorded call.
Personal injury lawyers conduct thorough accident investigations to determine fault and gather evidence. Steps that they might take include, but are not limited to:
If the insurance company continues to blame you for the accident, it might be necessary to file a lawsuit and proceed to court.
Never admit fault for the cause of a car accident. Do not apologize or say you are sorry at the accident scene or to a claims adjuster. Avoid talking to the insurance company until you seek legal advice from an accident lawyer.
Do not post information on social media. It is best to stop using social media until you talk with a lawyer. Also, do not discuss the cause of the accident or the details of the accident with anyone until you speak with an attorney. The individuals could be witnesses for the defense at trial.
Comparative negligence may apply in other personal injury cases. For example, you could be blamed for contributing to your injuries caused by a slip and fall accident, bicycle accident, workplace accident, pedestrian accident, or other personal injuries.
We can help you fight allegations of comparative negligence and fault to get you the money you deserve after an accident. Contact our law office to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Queens personal injury attorney.