Everybody knows a family who tragically lost a loved one to a car accident. Most people know several. Lives taken out of their time; journeys ended too quickly. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young adults in the United States. Nobody wants to be in that position. If there was a way to reduce the risk of such accidents, wouldn’t you want you and all your loved ones to know?
Careful research and different standards tested in countries worldwide have led to certain standards that lead to a sharp reduction in the number of crashes and the number of lives taken in them.
A big one of these standards is raising awareness of and enforcing different vehicle related laws. These include of course the legislation and enforcement of speed limits, bans on alcohol impairment, checks on seat belt usage and proper child restraints are all crucial steps in increasing safety on our roadways. Another part is formulating and implementing transport and land-use policies that support safer and more efficient trips, encouraging use of safer methods of travel such as public transport, and including injury prevention measures into traffic management and road design.
As far as actually being in your vehicle, you can make vehicle more protective and visible for the sake of those you’re driving with, pedestrians, and cyclists. Options on doing this include daytime running lights, high mounted break lights, and reflective materials on cycles, carts, and other non-motorized forms of transit.
Being aware of dangerous road conditions can also help you avoid car crashes. In places like New York, these can include rain, fog, ice, and snow. One major issue caused by these conditions is hydroplaning, a dangerous issue which causes a vehicle to slide uncontrollably on a wet road.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you’re not alone. There are over 40,000 fatal car accidents per year in the United States, claiming 90 American lives every day. About 2 million drivers sustain a permanent injury from a car accident each year. Almost 8,000 people are killed each year in car accidents involving drivers aged 16-20. The most common cause of fatalities are drunk driving (40%), speeding (30%), and irresponsible driving (33%). While you can’t control other drivers when dealing with these factors, you can control the risk that you create to yourself, your passengers, and those around you by being a concentrated, unimpaired driver driving in a safe manner in safe conditions.
Sad to say, as much care as one can take, car accidents do still happen, and often time you sustain injuries and costly repairs, requiring unexpected bills that can quickly add up. What do you do now?
Directly after a car accident, medical needs should always come first. If police are not already on the scene, call them and report the accident. It’s vital to file a police report within 24 hours of the crash. Filing a police report is an important first step forward that allows your claim to start climbing the mountain that is car insurance claims. Not only does it prove the other party was on the scene, but it’s required in order to gain a recovery from a vehicle or driver that is uninsured. You always want to investigate what you can as to the cause of the accident, and document any evidence you have with pictures and other methods of preservation. A detailed report can be used to paint a vivid picture of the accident just as it was, not only a vague description with the bare facts included. And of course, police reports are important to the next major player in car accidents- the insurance companies.
After an accident, you may want to pursue an insurance claim against the other driver or their insurance company. A payment from the other side can help cover medical expenses, depending on the insurance involved. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, it is vital that you do not speak to them right away. They do not have your best interest in mind and are not looking for the best or easiest solution to the issue, they’re looking to maximize the payout to their client and minimize the expense to them, almost always at your expense. Don’t enter this hostile environment yourself, consult with an attorney first who is trained to know the fine nuances of the situation and just what is going to be your best step going forward. Whatever you say to the other side’s insurance can be used against you at any point, and it can hurt your case.
Another piece of dealing with insurance after car accidents is the no-fault application. New York is a no-fault state, meaning generally speaking, the insurance company will pay out regardless of who is at fault. To take advantage of this, you must present the first written document associated with the injury details of the accident, be that a police report or medical records. A claim must be filed within 30 days of the accident. The insurance company can take up to 30 days from the date it receives the appropriate documentation to pay the claim or to deny your claim.
Another part of dealing with insurance companies in car accidents is the existence of the serious injury threshold. If a person in a car accident sustains an injury that qualifies as a “serious injury,” it allows the injured person to step outside the general no-fault insurance situation, and allow you to file a claim against the at fault driver. It will also allow you to seek damages that are considered non-economic, such as damages for pain and suffering. Each state has a statute that outlines the type of injuries that qualify as a “serious injury.” Consulting a lawyer today will let you know what your options are, inside or outside the no-fault system.
Contact Rudolph F. X. Migliore, P.C.
For more than three and a half decades, the attorneys at Rudolph F. X. Migliore have been helping victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents put their lives back together after sustaining serious and catastrophic injuries, and we can help you too. Our law firm offers a free case evaluation to find out if you have grounds for a lawsuit. Call (631) 543-3663 to arrange an appointment today.