What Are the Steps to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in NY?
Filing a lawsuit can seem like a huge, daunting task, but after breaking it down into steps, it isn’t so bad. Our lawyers can help you along the way and help you understand all of the steps and what happens during those stages of your case so that you always know what’s going on.
To file a car accident lawsuit in NY, you first need to gather evidence, get medical care, and see what damages you faced. From there, we need to make sure your case meets the “serious injury threshold,” or else a lawsuit cannot be filed. Then, we file a complaint with the court, go through pretrial stages and discovery, then move the case on to trial. At every point along the way, we will also work to settle with insurance companies if they can provide adequate compensation without a lawsuit.
For help filing your car accident case, call the NY car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.
Gathering Evidence and Preparing Your NY Car Accident Case
Before you can file your case, you need to know what “your case” is. This means collecting evidence about the accident, the injuries you faced, the vehicle damage, and the other people involved. It also means getting medical care and vehicle repair estimates so that you know how bad your injuries and other damages are.
After a car crash, there are a few major pieces of evidence you need to collect, like the name and contact info of the driver who hit you and anyone else involved in the crash. Get the drivers’ insurance info as well. You also need the make, model, and license plate numbers of all cars involved in the crash and pictures of the crash scene and vehicle damage, if you can get it. If you can, also take notes about where the accident happened; what the weather, lighting, and road conditions were like; and what signs or traffic signals were at the intersection (if the accident happened at an intersection).
You should also call the police so they can write up a report of the crash. Then, get yourself a copy of that police report once it becomes available (which might be in a couple of weeks, after you’ve moved on to other stages of your case).
Getting Medical Care
If you faced injuries, you need medical care on record to confirm that the injuries did exist and to get you on the road to recovery. Having medical records of the treatment you received will help show the diagnoses and severity of your injuries, and the records will also provide information on your prognosis and how the injuries will affect you going forward.
This starts with first aid and an evaluation by the EMTs at the scene, but you might need to go to the ER, get X-rays and surgeries, and even receive follow-up care in the weeks or months after the crash. This means this part of your investigation might extend beyond other steps in your case.
Call a Lawyer
Once you have some of this information, you should call our Queens car accident lawyers right away. We can help find information and evidence you might be missing, such as security footage of the crash from nearby homes or stores. We can also take all of the raw information and evidence and start putting it into a usable form, with a strong theory of the case and a narrative that explains what the other driver did wrong and how you were the victim of the crash.
Determining Whether You Meet the “Serious Injury Threshold” for NY Car Accident Cases
Most car accident injury cases will involve filing with your own car insurance to get some of your initial medical bills and lost wages covered, but you could ultimately be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering if your injuries are serious enough.
New York law uses a “serious injury” threshold to determine whether you can sue or not. Injuries that are below this level of severity cannot be filed as claims (liability insurance claims nor lawsuits). It is only when your injuries involve one of the following that you can sue the at-fault driver for the injuries: a broken bone, a lost fetus, a long-term injury lasting at least 90 out of the following 180 days, or a permanent injury. You can also sue for a loved one’s death.
If you don’t meet this threshold, then you cannot sue at all, and you have to instead rely on insurance to get you the damages you need. That will inevitably exclude damages for pain and suffering, which are not covered by your own insurance and can only be claimed against the at-fault driver’s insurance if you meet the serious injury threshold.
Filing Your Car Accident Lawsuit in New York
The process of filing in court involves drafting a “complaint” that details what happened in the accident and why the other driver is at fault. Your lawyer will draft your complaint to include the violations the other driver committed and an explanation of the facts – using the evidence you gathered – to explain how that makes the other driver at fault. The complaint will also include a description of the harm and an estimate of the damages the crash caused.
From there, both sides will make other filings and arguments with the court. Eventually, the case will move to “discovery,” the stage at which both sides share evidence and take depositions of witnesses. When ready, the case will move on to trial where a judge and jury will decide fault and damages.
At any point up until the jury verdict, our Staten Island car accident lawyers can potentially negotiate a fair settlement so that we can end your case faster. But you should not accept a settlement without having your lawyer go over it first.
Call Our NY Car Accident Lawyers Today
Contact The Carrion Law Firm’s Riverhead car accident attorneys today at (718) 841-0083 for a free review of your case.