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When Should I Get a Lawyer for a New York Car Accident?

— February 7, 2022

The state of New York uses the comparative fault rule to calculate damages. If you were partly to blame for the accident, you can still recover damages.

When you’re used to the crazy traffic in New York, you don’t bat an eye for a fender bender. You know the drill – get out of the car, survey the damage to your car, exchange insurance info with the other driver and be on your way. So, when should you get a lawyer if you’re involved in a traffic accident in the state of New York? The consensus is that if you’re injured in the crash and there’s extensive damage to your car, you should talk to a trustworthy accident lawyer in New York before you do anything else. Except, of course, seeing a doctor and taking care of your injuries.

Actually, it is those injuries and the medical care you will require that should get you looking up the best accident lawyer in New York City you can find. You will need a lot of money for your medical bills, not to mention fixing or replacing your car. 

The same goes for other types of traffic accidents, slip and falls, premises liability cases, etc. 

Why would you need a lawyer when you have insurance?

You will need a lawyer precisely because you’ll have to deal with the guys from your insurance company. Ever wondered why there’s rarely any problem when you report a fender bender? Because the money you claim is peanuts to them. Even if they give you $100 less than you expected, who would consider getting a lawyer for that kind of money?

However, if you sustain significant injuries, like multiple fractures, head trauma, neck or spine damage, those will require prolonged medical care, probably surgery, and physiotherapy. Put together, all those bills can add up to well over $100,000.

Doctor Lived "Lavish" Lifestyle from Unnecessary Treatments
Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Your insurer won’t be happy to hear how much money you want and without a skilled accident lawyer watching out for you you’re at their mercy. They will try to shift the blame on you or as much of it as possible  so that you don’t get any damages. 

Note that the state of New York uses the comparative fault rule to calculate damages. If you were partly to blame for the accident, you can still recover damages.

How does the comparative fault rule work?

Your lawyer can talk it over with the insurance adjuster to establish your percentage of blame. If your total damages are calculated at, say, $100,000 but you were 25% to blame for the crash, you will only get $75,000. On the other hand, if you don’t get a lawyer and leave it to the insurer, they will try to take advantage of your lack of experience in legal matters and say that you were, in fact, 45% to blame, so your damages are reduced to $55,000. See the difference? 

An experienced lawyer won’t fall for that. If the insurance adjusters are completely unreasonable he will probably suggest to call off the negotiations and file a lawsuit. Often enough, the idea of a lawsuit is enough to make the adjuster have a change of heart and award you a fair settlement. 

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