Maximum Compensation for New York City Crash
If you seek the maximum compensation for New York City crash, you may need a car accident lawyer at David Resnick. You may be entitled to recover compensation for the injuries caused by the accident. This may include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages represent out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills and lost wages, while noneconomic damages are intended to compensate a victim for the pain and suffering caused by the accident.
Because New York has a “no-fault” insurance law, not all victims are entitled to pain and suffering damages. The no-fault laws require a victim’s own liability insurance provider to compensate the victim for economic damages up to a certain point regardless of who was to blame for the collision. If the victim suffered “serious” injuries in the crash, then the victim may also be entitled to pursue additional economic damages as well as noneconomic damages through a traditional personal injury lawsuit.
Contrary to what many people believe, there is no set formula for calculating the amount of compensation a victim is entitled to in a car accident case. There are, however, numerous factors that can affect a victim’s recovery. The New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., understand how each of these factors work together to maximize a victim’s recovery.
- Pain and Suffering - What is Included
The car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., understand the emotional and psychological pain and suffering caused by serious personal injuries. We are dedicated to ensuring that car crash victims are fully and fairly compensated for all of their injuries –physical, financial and emotional.
Car accident victims frequently suffer pain as a result of a physical injury and emotional trauma as a result of the experience. A broken bone, for instance, is a physical injury that would likely cause the victim to suffer pain. The trauma of being involved in a collision and being hurt often results in stress, anxiety and psychological problems.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the law distinguishes between what are termed “economic damages” and “noneconomic damages.” Economic damages are those that can be easily quantified and are typically out-of-pocket expenses related to an accident. Medical bills and lost wages are examples of economic damages.
Noneconomic damages are much harder to quantify, as they represent what most people think of as the “pain and suffering” portion of an award or settlement. The pain you felt as a result of a broken bone or the emotional effect that the accident had on you are things that the law attempts to provide compensation for as part of a noneconomic damages award or settlement.
Although typically referred to as “pain and suffering” damages, there are actually other injuries that can be compensated as well.
Things such as fright, anxiety, worry, apprehension, humiliation and embarrassment may also be compensable. In addition, injuries related to disfigurement or deformity, mental distress and an inability to perform your normal work or enjoy your everyday life may also be part of a pain and suffering award or settlement.
- Is Everyone Entitled to Pain and Suffering Damages?
The simple answer is “no.” New York is a no-fault insurance state. While the no-fault laws are complicated, the concept behind the law is that anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident is entitled to have his or her economic damages covered regardless of who was at fault for the collision. The downside to the no-fault law is that it precludes many victims from receiving compensation for pain and suffering.
Under New York law, only car accident victims who have suffered a “serious injury” are potentially entitled to pain and suffering damages.
A “serious injury” is defined as an injury that includes at least one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body function or system
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury or impairment of a nonpermanent nature, which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual or customary activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence or injury.
Victims are prevented from pursuing pain and suffering compensation through a traditional personal injury lawsuit unless they have suffered a “serious injury”.
- Determining Pain and Suffering Damages
Assuming that you are entitled to seek pain and suffering damages through a personal injury lawsuit, a jury or judge will ultimately determine the value of your pain and suffering damages, unless an out-of-court settlement is reached first.
Some common factors that are typically considered when calculating the value of pain and suffering damages include the:
- Nature of the injuries
- Extent of the injuries
- Expected duration of injuries
- Age of the victim
- Overall health of the victim
- Amount and type of medication the victim requires as a result of injuries
- Pre-existing injuries
- Family structure.
Because each car accident presents a unique set of facts and circumstances and each victim suffers in his or her own way, there is no way to provide general answers to specific questions about pain and suffering compensation. The best way to find out whether you might be entitled to pain and suffering damages – and if so, how much they might be – is to consult with an experienced New York City car accident attorney.
- Preserving Evidence
The first step in maximizing a car accident victim’s recovery – including pain and suffering and other damages – is to ensure that all evidence relating to the accident is preserved. Evidence comes in many forms, yet all of it may add to the strength of a victim’s case.
Some common forms of evidence that should be preserved in a car accident case include:
- Physical evidence – Preserving physical evidence may mean taking photos of the damage to the vehicles or securing the vehicles for inspection. While you may need to have your vehicle repaired after an accident, always be sure to take plenty of photographs that include a time and date stamp on them and have one or more professional repair shops provide a detailed written estimate of the damage prior to repairs. You should also take photos of yourself if you have obvious physical injuries from the accident.
- Witness statements – Neutral witnesses to an accident can go a long way toward proving fault for an accident. Although a police report may include witness identification and contact information, it is best not to rely on a police report. If you are able to speak to witnesses at the scene of the accident and get contact information, it will likely be very helpful. If not, it may be necessary to send an investigator to try to locate witnesses from nearby establishments or residences to corroborate your version of events.
- Weather and road conditions – Sometimes, factors such as road or weather conditions play a role in a car accident. A poorly designed or maintained roadway, for instance, may have contributed to the accident. Likewise, a malfunctioning traffic light might have triggered a crash. Weather could also be an important factor if another motorist failed to adjust his or her speed for the adverse conditions. All of these potentially relevant conditions need to be documented through photos, official reports or records.
- Proving Causation
In some cases, the cause of the accident is clear to everyone involved. More often than not, though, causation is one of the main issues in a New York City car accident case. Because the other parties wish to avoid liability, they will ordinarily not admit to causing the accident.
Therefore, we may use a variety of tools and tactics to prove causation to a jury.
Some of these include:
- Accident reconstruction experts – Accident reconstruction experts spend a considerable amount of time studying an accident to determine how the accident occurred. These experts are highly educated and trained scientists or engineers, as a rule, who can explain to a jury exactly how an accident occurred with a great degree of accuracy.
- Video accident recreation – Creating a video that depicts how the accident occurred may help a jury envision what caused the crash and who was to blame.
- Demonstration exhibits – A demonstration exhibit may be a video or audio recording of the conditions just prior to an accident or could include an example of the weather or road conditions existing at the time. Basically, it includes anything that demonstrates a factor contributing to the accident for the jury.
- Experimental tests – In some cases, your lawyer may be able to present an experimental test to the jury where experts recreated conditions that existed at the time of the accident to show what likely occurred.
- Proving Negligence
Negligence, or fault, in a New York car accident could lie with another motorist, a municipality because of poor road design or maintenance, a vehicle manufacturer or other parties that in some way contributed to the accident. More than one of these potential parties could share the fault for an accident. To ensure maximum recovery in a car accident, it is imperative to explore the potential liability of all potential defendants in the investigation process.
- Proving Injuries
In legal terms, injuries (including pain and suffering and lost wages) are referred to as “damages” in a car accident case. Proving the number, extent and severity of your damages is crucial to maximizing your recovery. To do this, your lawyer may employ medical experts to discuss your physical injuries, as well as to provide an estimate of the future medical expenses you are likely to incur as a result of your injuries.
Your attorney may also use economists and financial experts to discuss the financial impact the crash had on you and your family. Finally, your lawyer may turn to life care planners and psychologists to convince a jury of the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the collision.
- Witness Statements
A wide variety of evidence may be used to prove another party’s negligence in a car accident, including statements from people who witnessed the crash. A witness statement could be obtained from someone who was in your own vehicle, in another vehicle involved in the collision or from an uninvolved person who happened to see the crash.
An objective third party usually makes an excellent witness because he or she has no stake in the outcome of the case. Occupants of your vehicle may also testify to important points such as where everyone in the vehicle was sitting at the time of the collision, if proper child restraints were used, what the driver was doing just prior to the crash and if everyone was using a seat belt at the time of the crash.
One of the most important steps to take after a crash is to locate and speak to witnesses if possible. Of course, if your injuries prevent you from doing so, then witness identification will have to be accomplished at a later time. If, however, you are able to exit your vehicle and speak to people who may have seen the collision, try to get their names and contact information.
Sometimes our NYC car accident legal team at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., finds it necessary to send out an investigator to locate witnesses. This may entail knocking on doors in a residential neighborhood or questioning employees at nearby businesses to find people who saw the wreck. The key is to begin the search for witnesses as soon as possible after a collision to ensure that they do not disappear and that their memories of the event are still clear.
- Witness Testimony at Trial
A witness to a car accident may provide important information that can help establish negligence or can help refute defenses raised by the defendants in a car accident lawsuit.
Some examples of issues that a witness might testify about include:
- The direction of travel of the vehicles.
- The approximate speed of the vehicles.
- Where the occupants were sitting in the vehicles.
- Whether a driver signaled prior to a turn.
- If a driver stopped at a light or stop sign.
- Whether a driver braked prior to a crash.
- What a driver was doing just prior to a crash.
- If a driver was distracted by anything inside or outside of the vehicle.
- If all occupants were properly restrained.
- If a driver had been drinking prior to getting behind the wheel.
- If a driver attempted any evasive maneuvers to try and avoid a collision.
- Law Enforcement Reports and Witnesses
There are a number of reasons why depending on law enforcement to locate and obtain witness statements is not a good idea. First, a law enforcement officer may not even be dispatched to the scene of a collision. In New York City, for instance, an accident investigation team is dispatched only if someone is seriously injured or likely to die as a result of the crash.
Even if law enforcement officers do respond to the crash, it may take some time for them to arrive. By then, potential witnesses may have disappeared or left the immediate vicinity of the crash.
Finally, a law enforcement officer’s job at the scene of a crash is to determine if a criminal or traffic offense has been committed, not to determine who should pay for the damages caused by the crash. For this reason, a crucial witness to the crash may not even be interviewed by the officer.
- Accident Reconstruction and Winning Your Case
In some New York City car accidents, the cause or causes of the crash are obvious to the untrained eye. In other crashes, though, the factors that contributed to the collision are not as clear. When the cause is unclear, accident reconstruction may be useful.
Accident reconstruction is a scientific process that includes an investigation and analysis that result in conclusions regarding how an accident occurred. Both the laws of physics and the principles of engineering are used by an accident reconstructionist when studying an accident. Usually, a forensic engineer leads an accident reconstruction team.
The phases involved in accident reconstruction typically include:
- Investigation – The first step in accident reconstruction is a thorough investigation of the accident scene, the vehicles and other equipment involved. This may include taking photos and measurements, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence from the vehicles themselves, such as an event data recorder. Other evidence from the scene may also be collected. Evidence that a layperson may not realize is important could be crucial to an accident reconstruction. The length of skid marks, the slope of a roadway or the spatial relationship between vehicles prior to an accident, for instance, might tell an expert much about how an accident happened. In addition, the road surface will be studied, and any obstacles or debris present on the road will be collected or documented. Finally, official data may be requested regarding issues such as the weather conditions at the time of the crash or the status of a traffic-control device just prior to a wreck.
- Analysis – After the accident scene has been investigated and all of the evidence gathered, the accident reconstruction team will begin to analyze it. The analysis process often includes various computerized analyses using programs such as computer-aided design (CAD). Hypotheses may be offered and tested. The team will likely recreate the possible series of events that led to the accident, either on a computer or in real life, to test a hypothesis. Data gathered from the wreck – such as vehicle speed, braking distance, acceleration rates, and the use of turn signals – may be processed through computer programs to determine how the crash happened.
- Testimony – Once the accident reconstruction team has reached a conclusion as to the cause of a collision, they will present their findings in the form of a written report. The lead expert, usually a forensic engineer, is often called to testify at trial regarding those findings. At trial, a computer-animated model may also be used to show the jury how the expert believes the accident occurred.
- Reliability of Accident Reconstruction
The conclusions reached by an accident reconstruction expert are considered an expert opinion. If the expert is properly accredited, trained and experienced, his or her testimony will likely carry significant weight at trial.
Just as a medical doctor provides an educated opinion regarding health issues, an accident reconstruction expert provides an educated opinion regarding the cause of the crash. The opinion is based on solid evidence that has been meticulously analyzed by an expert. A jury will likely assign a high degree of value to that opinion.
Given everything that is required for a comprehensive accident reconstruction analysis and report, it is not surprising that accident reconstruction can be expensive. Therefore, it is usually cost-prohibitive to retain an accident reconstruction expert for a relatively minor car accident.
In accidents where a victim was fatally or seriously injured, the potential benefits may outweigh the cost. Because compensation for a victim depends first on determining fault in a personal injury lawsuit, accident reconstruction may be a necessary expense. If the New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., believe that an accident reconstruction expert is needed in a case, we will make arrangements to pay for the services.
- Securing Your Vehicle After a Car Accident
When you are the victim of a New York City car accident, securing your vehicle may be the last thing on your mind after the collision. However, properly securing and preserving your wrecked vehicle could play a key role in your effort to recover full and fair compensation for your car accident injuries.
If another party’s negligence caused or contributed to the crash, your vehicle could contain critical evidence needed to prove fault. Because we understand how important vehicle preservation is in a car accident case, the New York City personal injury attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., do what is necessary to ensure that our clients’ vehicles are properly secured.
Determining fault requires evidence – evidence that can often be found in the vehicles involved in the crash. That evidence can be compromised or disappear completely if the vehicle is not properly secured after a collision.
- Types of Evidence a Vehicle Could Contain
If you are claiming that another driver was at fault, then your own vehicle could contain evidence that you were not the at-fault driver, while the other driver’s vehicle could offer evidence of negligence on his or her part. If you are claiming that a vehicle defect caused or contributed to the crash or made your injuries worse than they would have been without the defect, then your vehicle could hold evidence of the defect.
Some common examples of relevant evidence obtained from vehicles involved in car crashes include:
- “Black box” – Many newer vehicles have the equivalent of what has been referred to as a “black box” in airplanes. These mini event recorders can provide critical information about things such as the speed the vehicle was traveling prior to the crash, if the brakes were applied and the rate of acceleration or deceleration just before the crash.
- Damage – Physical damage to the vehicle can help an accident reconstruction expert determine how the crash occurred, as well as provide support for injury claims made by the occupants of the vehicle.
- Tires – Tires often tell a story. Tires can be compared to skid marks or tracks to determine whether evasive action was taken, how fast the vehicle was traveling and whether the vehicle braked prior to the crash. Worn or blown-out tires might indicate improper vehicle maintenance or a defect.
- Lights – Claims that a driver failed to signal or that a brake light wasn’t working can be checked against the physical evidence.
- Defects – If a driver claims that something unexpected occurred, such as unintended acceleration, brake failure or a tire blowout, the vehicle can be analyzed for any vehicle defects that might explain what occurred.
- Restraints – Evidence that restraints were or were not used can be obtained from the vehicle.
- Debris/trash – If a claim of driving while intoxicated is made, evidence in the form of alcohol containers or drug paraphernalia may be found in a vehicle. Even items that seem innocuous, such as fast food wrappers, a cell phone or an iPod, may be evidence that a motorist was driving while distracted.
- Securing a Vehicle to Preserve Evidence
Insurance companies can hinder the process of evidence collection from a vehicle. If the vehicle is considered a total loss, the insurance company will often take possession of the vehicle and store it in an unprotected lot where it is exposed to the elements, theft and vandalism. More importantly, the insurance company will eventually sell a totaled vehicle for parts or scrap metal.
Even if the vehicle is not totaled, it could be exposed to tampering if it is parked in an unsecured lot at a repair facility. The vehicle may be repaired before the personal injury claim has been resolved. In all of these scenarios, vital evidence can be forever lost or destroyed.
There are steps that should be taken to secure a wrecked vehicle until a thorough investigation has been completed. Locking the vehicle and storing it in a secure indoor facility will usually suffice until your attorney has been contacted. If your insurance company took possession of the vehicle, it is crucial that you contact the New York car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., as soon as possible after the collision so that legal steps can be taken to secure the vehicle.
Because insurance companies often have a vested interest in a potential subrogation claim against a third party, such as an automobile manufacturer or a negligent driver, they are typically willing to work out arrangements to secure the vehicle pending litigation. We also have the option to seek a court order preventing the insurance company from altering, damaging, selling or destroying the vehicle.
- Accident Scene Investigation
It is important to investigate the cause of a car accident as soon as possible after it happens. Crash scene evidence may be disturbed or disappear rapidly after a crash, making it imperative that an accident scene investigation be done as soon as possible.
Victims often make the mistake of assuming that law enforcement authorities will complete a thorough accident investigation following a motor vehicle accident. This is not a good idea for a variety of reasons.
First, in many jurisdictions (particularly New York City), a law enforcement officer may not even arrive at the scene unless serious injuries are involved. Even if they do respond, it is important to remember that a law enforcement officer’s job is to determine whether a criminal offense or traffic violation was committed by a motorist. Determining who was at fault in an accident is not the job of law enforcement.
For these reasons, whatever investigation is done by a law enforcement officer will be aimed at finding violations, not determining who caused the collision and who should be held financially responsible. That is not to say that evidence collected by law enforcement will never be helpful– only that you should not depend entirely on law enforcement to investigate your accident scene.
Along with law enforcement, the at-scene evidence collected by first responders such as ambulance or fire personnel may be useful, yet again it is important not to rely too heavily on them to investigate the crash.
Because we understand how important evidence can be, and how incomplete an investigation by first responders can be, the New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., often send out our own investigator as soon as possible after an accident to conduct a thorough investigation. We may also retain the services of an accident reconstruction team to further study the scene of an accident.
- Types of Evidence Found on the Scene
While each crash is unique, there are some types of evidence that are commonly found at an accident scene, including:
- The vehicles themselves and any damage or defects to them
- The condition of victims and vehicle occupants
- Witness statements
- Skid marks
- Tire tracks in mud or grass
- Trash thrown from vehicles
- Evidence of road conditions
- Traffic device conditions.
- What Can I Do to Assist in the Investigation of My Accident?
The extent to which you are able to help investigate the scene of your accident will depend largely on the nature and seriousness of the injuries you suffered in the collision.
If you are able to perform them, the following steps could help the investigation of your accident:
- Take pictures with a cell phone, tablet or camera at the scene of your accident.
- Check for witnesses and obtain contact information from them.
- Lock your vehicle before you leave the accident scene.
- Arrange for your vehicle to be stored in an indoor weatherproof storage facility until you are able to consult with a NYC car accident attorney.
- Why Securing Evidence from Accident Scene Is Important to Your NYC Car Crash Case
If your car accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the physical and emotional injuries you suffered. To help ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled, it is crucial to secure evidence relating to the accident as soon as possible.
The New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., understand the importance of securing evidence, as well as the methods used to accomplish this vital goal.
Although most car accident lawsuits are ultimately settled out of court, we will handle your case from day one as though it is going to trial in front of a jury. Not only will that put you in the strongest position possible for negotiating a settlement, but it also means that we are prepared to present your case to a jury and secure a verdict in your favor if a settlement is not possible.
Because we take this aggressive approach, evidence collection and preservation is vital. The rules of evidence must be adhered to so that we can ensure that the jury is able to see or hear each piece of evidence in your case. An error at the evidence-gathering or preservation stage could result in the evidence not being admitted at trial. Because we know this, we are meticulous about how we gather and secure evidence in your case.
- Time-Sensitive Evidence – Why You Need to Act Fast
Evidence showing negligence in a car accident can come in numerous forms – some of which are extremely time sensitive, meaning that if the evidence is not discovered quickly, it can vanish.
Some examples of this type of evidence include:
- Tire tread patterns and skid marks – These marks, whether made in the dirt or on pavement, can speak volumes about how and why a collision occurred. Unfortunately, they will also fade fast, be washed away or be covered up rapidly if not photographed or properly documented.
- Broken branches – If a vehicle veered off the roadway, tree branches may tell the tale. However, they can be trimmed or grow back quickly.
- Marks on grass or lawns – Just as skid marks and broken branches tell a story, so do tire tracks on grass or other soft surfaces, yet they will disappear within hours if not documented and preserved.
- Trash from a vehicle – Sometimes a driver who has been drinking will toss out the evidence right after an accident. That crucial evidence can easily disappear if not documented immediately.
- Non-working traffic lights – Road conditions such as a malfunctioning traffic light may cause or contribute to a crash. Although the government agency responsible for the traffic light should have an official record of the light’s failure, taking photographs or getting a witness to provide a statement that confirms the problem is always a good idea.
- Road construction – Work zones are a common site for accidents. If you were in a construction zone accident, the entire area should be photographed and documented to see if it was properly marked and that adequate warnings were posted.
- Can I Rely on My Insurance Company to Collect Evidence?
Depending on the severity of the collision and your insurance company’s policies, an adjuster may be called to the scene of the crash. While you might assume that your insurance company is on your side, do not assume that this means the adjuster will go above and beyond to discover and collect evidence. The majority of them do not.
One reason for this is that New York is a “no-fault” insurance state, meaning that in many car accidents, fault is not an issue for the insurance adjuster. Because your own personal liability insurance policy will be responsible for paying your medical expenses if the accident was not serious, many adjusters do not spend a considerable amount of time worrying about who was at fault in an accident. Likewise, roadside assistance programs provided by vehicle manufacturers or first responder teams may assist an injured victim or arrange for the vehicle to be towed away from the scene, but they will be unlikely to assist with evidence discovery or preservation.
- Securing Evidence
Locating and collecting evidence is crucial to your car accident case, and securing the evidence once it is collected can be equally as important. Each piece of evidence must be properly documented with the date, time and location and then secured in a manner that does not allow it to be compromised. The precise method of securing evidence depends on the type of evidence collected. You can rest assured that the NYC car accident legal team at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., is well versed in methods of evidence collection as well as the proper procedures for securing evidence.
Contact the New York Car Accident Lawyers at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., Today
If you have been seriously injured in a New York City car accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The key to successfully litigating your claim may lie in the discovery, collection, preservation and analysis of evidence from the crash.
The New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., represent victims and their families who have been injured in in New York City motor vehicle accidents. The earlier we are contacted after an accident, the better our chance of properly investigating an accident in order to maximize your recovery. For a free initial evaluation of your case, contact the firm today by calling 212-279-2000 or by filling out our online contact form.
Maximum Compensation for New York City Crash
If you have been seriously injured in a New York City car accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The key to successfully litigating your claim may lie in the discovery, collection, preservation and analysis of evidence from the crash.
The New York City personal injury attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C., represent victims and their families who have been injured in in New York City motor vehicle accidents. The earlier we are contacted after an accident, the better our chance of properly investigating an accident in order to maximize your recovery. For a free initial evaluation of your case, contact the firm today by calling 212-279-2000 or by filling out our online contact form.