Smithtown, NY Car Accident Lawyer
Car crashes can leave victims with serious, life-altering injuries. Many car accident victims live the rest of their lives with permanent effects from a car accident, and their cases require high-dollar financial compensation. Even with moderate or minor injuries, you could still face substantial damages from medical bills to pain and suffering.
In most accident cases involving injury, it is vital to take your case to an experienced car accident attorney. Insurance claims often fall short of compensating your injuries in full, especially in no-fault states like New York.
For help with your car accident claim, call the Smithtown, NY car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm today. Our phone number is (718) 841-0083.
How Fault is Determined in a Smithtown Car Accident Lawsuit
When you file an insurance claim, “no-fault” insurance may be able to pay you for some of your injuries without the need to prove fault. However, the trade-off is that no-fault insurance often cannot cover all of your damages in full, especially since it does not usually pay pain and suffering damages. If your injuries qualify as “severe,” you may be able to file your case in court instead, but proving fault will be a necessary step before you can get your damages paid.
Who Determines Fault?
In court, a jury will determine fault or, if the case is done as a bench trial, the judge will determine fault instead. Your Smithtown car accident lawyer and the defendant’s attorney (typically provided by their insurance company) will both present evidence of what happened to the court, and the jury will make the final determination as to who was at fault.
Requirements for Liability
For a jury to find a driver at fault, they must be able to point to some traffic violation or other mistake that the driver committed. Without a violation of some legal duty, there can be no finding of fault. Additionally, it must be shown that the breach of duty actually caused the accident, too – anything that did not contribute to the crash cannot be considered part of the fault determination.
For a court to find that a driver was at fault (or “liable”), the case must be proven “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is significantly lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” many people may be familiar with for criminal cases. Under this preponderance standard, you essentially need to prove that it is “more likely than not” that the other driver was at fault for the court to hold them liable.
Assigning Partial Fault
At the end of the day, the court might actually assign partial fault to each driver involved. When the court assigns fault to multiple defendants, they will each pay their share of the damages. If the court assigns the victim partial blame for the crash, their damages will be reduced by that percentage of the damages. For example, a victim who is found 5% at fault in a case with $100,000 worth of damages will receive only $95,000 in damages from the defendants.
Getting Compensation After a Car Accident in Smithtown, NY
Always speak with a lawyer about how to get compensation if you were injured in a crash. Many injury victims think that their insurance will be enough to cover their injuries, only to find out later that there are large areas of damages that they did not get compensation for. In many cases, insurance claims can act as settlements, preventing you from claiming additional compensation, so you should never settle without discussing your case with one of our Smithtown car accident lawyers first.
What No-Fault Insurance Covers
No-fault insurance (known to many as “PIP” insurance) will pay for some of your damages without the need to prove fault. However, these damages might cover only a certain percentage of your medical bills and lost wages, and they typically do not cover pain and suffering at all. They also typically require you to pay a deductible, so some portion of these damages will be paid out of pocket anyway.
Getting Additional Compensation
In some cases, you can claim additional compensation beyond these damages. However, your injuries need to qualify as “severe” under NY law before you can file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance or file a lawsuit in court. When you do this, your insurance company might actually be able to file a subrogation claim against you to recoup some of the damages they initially paid to you from your settlement or damage award. Talk to a lawyer about how this could affect your ultimate take-home award.
Other Areas of Damages
When you go to trial and get damages through a judge or jury, your compensation can include additional areas of compensation that insurance might not have been willing to pay.
First is the pain and suffering damages that you can claim in a lawsuit but not a no-fault insurance claim. These damages can go a long way toward compensating some of the intangible harms of the accident, like emotional distress and reduced enjoyment of life you might feel because of your injuries.
Since these damages are not available from your PIP damages, you typically need to prove you have severe injuries in order to be able to claim these damages in the first place. Once you prove that, these damages can be a substantial part of your injury case.
Second, damages can sometimes include punitive damages to punish the at-fault parties for their wrongdoing. This is more common in cases of severe transgressions or cases involving commercial drivers (e.g., truck drivers) who work for a company with a record of severe or repeat negligence. These damages are not guaranteed and are only awarded under special circumstances.
Talk to our Smithtown car accident lawyers about whether these and other damages are available in your car accident injury case.
Call Our Smithtown Car Accident Attorneys Today
If you need help with a car accident claim, call our Smithtown car accident lawyers before accepting any money for your car accident injuries. For a free case evaluation, contact The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.