FAQs About Car Accidents

Car Accidents FAQs

What should I do right after I’ve been in a car accident?

There are several things you should do immediately after a car accident to protect your rights and your ability to obtain compensation for your injuries and property damage.

  • Immediately notify the police, and, if necessary, call for medical attention.
  • If you need emergency medical attention, accept it and follow emergency responders’ instructions. If you don’t need emergency care, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible for a full exam to rule out any hidden injuries.
  • If you can, take pictures (with a camera or cell phone) of the accident scene, including the cars involved and their positions and damage, people, your injuries and debris from the crash.
  • Cooperate with police, but answer only the questions they ask without volunteering opinions. Do not admit fault.
  • Do not make statements about the accident to anyone except the police.
  • Obtain all insurance information, names and license plate numbers, phone numbers and addresses of anyone involved in the accident. (The police will likely get this information and share it with each driver.)
  • Obtain the names and contact information for all witnesses.

Who pays if I am injured in a car accident in New York?

Under New York’s no-fault law, your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses should be paid by your insurance carrier. If you suffered “serious injuries” that were caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses through a traditional personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.

To ensure you can fully recover for your losses, it very important to file your insurance claim within a short period of time after the accident. Recent changes in New York law mean that failure to file quickly may result in the denial of your claim. 

What other expenses are covered by my personal no-fault auto insurance policy?

No-fault auto insurance will reimburse you for household help and travel costs to and from accident-related medical appointments for up to one year after the accident. Sometimes, other accident-related expenses may be eligible for reimbursement. 

A lawyer can help you make sure you recover all that you are entitled to from your no-fault coverage.

What types of issues could I face in making a claim for my injuries from a car accident?

The primary issue you’ll likely face is that the insurance company – even “your” insurance company – will be primarily interested in paying you as little money as possible. Unless you know how much money to seek in a claim and how to show that you deserve it, you are unlikely to obtain the settlement you deserve.

Three categories of issues that typically come up in a tort claim after a car crash include:

  • Liability – Who is at fault and to what extent.
  • Insurance coverage – What the insurance company will pay for after an accident.
  • Damages – Injuries or losses caused by the accident.

It can be a costly mistake not to identify all possible insurance coverage or to fail to correctly calculate your damages. The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, can assist you in finding all available insurance policies and other assets to help pay your claim. 

The insurance company says my car is a total loss and is offering me less money than I think it’s worth. Am I stuck with what they want to pay me?

If the insurance company determines that the cost of repairs exceeds the vehicle’s current value, it can declare it totaled and offer a cash settlement. The settlement should reflect the value of a similar vehicle as identified by popular guides (such as the National Automobile Dealers Association or Kelley Blue Book guides), a quote from a qualified local dealer, or a quote from a N.Y. Insurance Department-approved computerized database.

What should I do if my no-fault insurance company refuses to compensate me for lost pay and medical or other necessary expenses?

It may surprise you if your insurer refuses to pay you for losses that you expect to be covered, but if it’s just you and the insurance company, it truly has the upper hand.

You and anyone else injured in your vehicle have the right to arbitration or mediation if you disagree with your insurance company’s settlement offer. An attorney working on your behalf can also often negotiate a resolution of these matters without the necessity of proceeding with mediation or arbitration.

I was injured as a result of hitting a piece of broken pavement with my car. Can I collect damages for my injuries?

Although they are often difficult, such third-party claims can succeed. You would have to present convincing evidence that this was indeed the cause of your crash and injuries.

Injuries stemming from improper maintenance or repair of roads and highways may be the fault of the state, county or town responsible for the road. In those cases there are special deadlines to file a Notice of Claim against the responsible government entity. Sometimes a private construction company that worked on the road is at fault. You should expect these two parties to blame each other if you seek damages. It most likely would require an investigation by some individual or organization experienced with third-party car accident liability to sort the evidence and successfully pursue this claim on your behalf.

My son, a pedestrian, was hit by a car. Is there any way to obtain insurance money for his injuries?

You should file a claim with the insurance company that covers the car that struck your son. If you do not know the vehicle that struck your son or if the vehicle was uninsured, you may file a claim with your car insurance company if your son was a member of your household at the time of the accident.

If there was no auto policy in your or your son’s household, you may file a claim with New York’s Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).

The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, can assist you in determining which approach to obtaining compensation for your son’s injuries best fits your circumstances.

Who will take care of my medical bills from the car accident?

If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you will likely have medical bills from doctors, hospitals, physical therapists and other health care providers, as well as fees for prescription drugs and medical devices. All of these bills will be in your name and will usually be sent to your address.

Under New York’s no-fault law, the insurance company that covered the vehicle you were in will have primary responsibility for paying your medical bills. If you were a pedestrian, the insurance company of the car that hit you will be responsible for the medical bills. Make sure you provide your no-fault insurance information to all of your medical providers including any hospitals you may have treated with so they may bill no-fault directly.

Sometimes the money the insurance company is willing to pay is far less than the amount of the actual bill. New York law often requires the doctor or hospital to limit their charges to the amount covered by no-fault insurance policies.

The insurance company is offering me a settlement, and I really need the money. Should I take it?

Tell the company you will get back to them, and immediately contact The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP. Shortly after an accident, an insurance company may quickly offer a small amount of money in return for your signing a document stating that you will not sue and agree to release the at-fault party from liability.

Insurance companies often try to discourage car accident victims from hiring a lawyer so they can pay less to settle the claim. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney. 

My doctor told me I have a permanent injury due to my auto accident. What does this mean?

A serious permanent injury is going to be with you for the rest of your life or for some period beyond the settlement of the claim. This means it is crucial for you to obtain an insurance settlement that truly meets your financial needs.

A seriously injured person may be entitled to payment from the at-fault party and his or her insurance company for past, present and future expenses, as well as pain and suffering. This includes compensation for future lost wages and loss of enjoyment of life. You need an attorney who is knowledgeable and on your side to accurately calculate what your future losses and expenses are likely to be.

I think I might have been partly at fault for the car crash. Can I still recover money from the insurance company?

Possibly. New York State has a legal principle known as comparative negligence, which means each driver in the car accident will be assigned a portion of blame. If the other driver is partially at fault, his or her insurance company will have to pay you partial compensation for your serious personal injuries and property damage. You may also be compensated for your pain and suffering, even if you are partially to blame for the accident.

Keep in mind that no-fault benefits are available regardless of who was to blame for the crash.

If I rear-ended another vehicle, am I automatically considered to be at fault?

Most of the time, but not always. A car accident lawyer can help you make sure the circumstances of your accident are portrayed fairly, especially if they show that you are not really at fault.

The law states that drivers must maintain a safe following distance to be able to stop safely if a car stops in front of them. But there are a few exceptions to this rule, which may apply if the other driver makes a sudden and unexpected stop or the crash is part of a chain reaction. 

I didn’t think I was hurt right after the accident, but now I’m suffering serious pain. What should I do?

You should seek medical attention immediately for any pain, discomfort or possible injuries from a car accident, even if you think the injuries are minor. This not only ensures that you are examined and treated, it documents your injuries, which protects your rights regarding any future claim for compensation.

Even if you did not think you were hurt at the time of a car accident, if you actually were injured by the accident, you are entitled to payment of your medical bills and lost wages. You may also be compensated for your pain and suffering and loss of earning capacity for certain injuries if the other party is at fault.

You should consult The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, to discuss whether you need representation for your claim.

How long does it take to resolve a car accident personal injury case?

It can take as little as a few weeks to months to resolve a personal injury claim. But it can also take up to several years for more complex cases.

A competent lawyer will keep your case moving forward toward a resolution, but will not be overly eager to settle your case and will never let the responsible party or his or her insurance company know you are anxious to settle.

You should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about the specifics of your case. 

How do I obtain payment for wages I have lost because of my accident?

Lost wages are initially reimbursed by the insurance company that insured the car you were in and, in some cases, by New York State Disability, under New York’s no-fault law. If you were a pedestrian, the insurance company of the vehicle that hit you will pay your lost wages, along with NYS Disability. Should the amount of your lost wages be more than what no-fault and NYS Disability have to pay, then any party at fault may be responsible for that additional wage loss.

Similar to seeking damages for medical bills, claims for lost wages must be made relatively quickly or they may be denied. These applications can be particularly tricky when you are self-employed or between jobs. Contact The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, today to discuss your case. 

I have more questions about my car accident in Syracuse. Who can I talk to?

You can talk to a local lawyer who is experienced with car accident claims and will act with your best interests in mind. And you can get solid legal advice from them for free.

At the Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, our car accident lawyers are ready to answer your questions and evaluate your potential auto accident claim. For a free initial consultation and case review, call us now or fill out our online contact form.