Is it Worth it to Sue After a Car Accident in New York?

The law in New York typically prohibits lawsuits for car accidents.  This is because of New York’s “no-fault” car insurance rules, which try to steer accident victims toward insurance claims instead of lawsuits.  In many cases, victims of serious or permanent injuries are permitted to file a lawsuit, which can open access to additional damages an insurance claim might not allow.  The decision of whether to take your case to court or file an insurance claim is a difficult one to make, but experienced New York car accident lawyers like those at The Carrion Law Firm can help you decide.  Read on to learn more about some of the factors that go into the decision of whether a lawsuit is “worth it” after a car crash in New York.

Factors to Determine Whether a Car Accident Lawsuit is Worth it in New York

The goal of an insurance claim or a lawsuit is the same after a car crash: get the victim damages to make up for the harm they faced in the crash.  This typically means paying for medical expenses, helping with lost wages, getting their car repairs paid for, and helping them cope with the other physical and mental effects of the injury.  The pros and cons of insurance claims might make this option better for some people, but personal injury lawsuits often have some clear benefits that make them a better choice for accident victims.  Some of the following factors are important to consider when choosing how to pursue compensation in your case:

How Fast Do You Need Damages?

A car insurance claim may pay damages faster than a lawsuit – but not always. Lawsuits take time to schedule in court, and due process requires time for the defendant to respond, for evidence exchange to take place, and for both sides to have plenty of prior notice of proceedings and depositions. Insurance claims can go a lot faster, but they can still be held up by insurance companies that refuse to pay or hold up your case in an attempt to pressure you into a lower settlement.

Sometimes accepting insurance payouts quickly can be dangerous, too. Sometimes, insurance policies state that the insurance company will pay damages now, but that if you sue, they get to reimburse themselves (and maybe take even more money) from the award when your lawsuit is finalized. It is important to talk to a lawyer to determine whether the quick payments of an insurance claim are worth it or whether you’re better off waiting to take your case to court.

Is Your Pain and Suffering Severe?

Insurance policies typically block damages for pain and suffering, focusing instead on the “economic” damages that can be easily proven through medical bills and financial records.  If your injuries were moderate or severe and the medical care was the most expensive part of the damages you suffered, an insurance claim might suffice.  However, if you suffered pain and suffering, you cannot claim damages for it through insurance.  That means settling your case will automatically mean settling for a lower sum.

For some more minor or moderate injuries like whiplash, the injury does not require intensive treatment but comes with long-term discomfort and pain. In these cases, pain and suffering damages might be higher than you’d expect, and you would lose these damages if you do not file a lawsuit.

How Good is Your Insurance?

If you have great insurance, it might cover everything you need without the need to file a lawsuit.  With New York’s no-fault insurance rules, many drivers carry top-of-the-line car insurance because they know it will end up serving them in the end rather than leaving them to rely on the other driver’s insurance like in at-fault insurance states.  Drivers with minimum insurance who suffer severe injuries may find their insurance lacking, and they may not be able to claim enough compensation through a car insurance claim.

NY insurance laws may allow you to file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, but this might also pay low damages if their policy is limited or if the insurance company puts up a fight. Ultimately, a car accident lawsuit might be worth it just because the insurance policies that could cover you are inadequate.

Who Caused the Crash?

If you were at fault for the crash that injured you, you might not have anyone to sue.  Single-car crashes, drunk driving accidents, and other crashes might make it hard to find anyone you can sue for damages.  There, an insurance claim might be your only option to seek compensation.

In other cases where the driver who hit you was working as a commercial driver when the accident occurred, there might actually be a greater incentive to take the case to court instead of settling with insurance.  Commercial drivers who cause crashes while working within the scope of their job duties can often be sued alongside the company they work for.  This could mean going after a negligent employer – potentially one who hires negligent drivers overworks their staff or violates federal trucking or transportation regulations.  Companies like this often have more ability to pay damages than an individual driver, and courts may even order punitive damages if these companies have a pattern of negligence.

Call Our New York Car Accident Attorneys for Help with Your Potential Injury Suit

If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash in New York, the decision of whether to file a lawsuit or file an insurance claim can be a big one.  In many cases, you only get one shot and cannot go back and file a lawsuit later if you accept an insurance settlement, so it is important to review your case with an attorney from the beginning. The Manhattan personal injury lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm may be able to help.  Call us at (718) 841-0083 to learn more about your options and what’s best in your particular case.