Articles Tagged with Auto Accidents

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Not sure of what’s required of drivers after an accident that causes property damage or injury? Basically, if you are physically able to exchange information with the other driver, then you are required by law to do so.

In New York, the law states that, if you know or have cause to know that the collision resulted in personal injury or property damage, then specific kinds of information should be exchanged with the other party or provided to police before you leave the place where the injury or damage occurred. The law requires you to provide the following:

  • Name
  • Driver’s license number
  • Insurance information, including your card, carrier, policy number and effective dates
  • Street and number of your residence

Police on the scene of a crash are also required to help the parties involved in the collision exchange information when doing so is practical and physically possible.

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Along with compensation for medical bills and lost wages, many personal injury lawsuits seek compensation for pain and suffering. Calculating a dollar value for pain and suffering can be a complex matter, especially if the plaintiff has experienced mental pain and suffering in addition to physical pain and suffering.

As with physical injuries, the severity of mental pain and suffering can vary a great deal. Because of a crash, some accident victims experience negative emotions such as anger and fear, while other victims suffer more extreme effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. All of these issues can factor into a claim of mental pain and suffering.

For example, if you were injured in an auto accident that caused you to miss a loved one’s funeral, then as a result you might experience frustration, sadness and difficulty sleeping. Even if those troubles don’t warrant medical or mental health treatment, the problems may still be regarded as mental pain and suffering.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan for traffic safety includes reducing the speed limit in New York City to 25 miles per hour. The plan also includes the installation of speed-detection cameras and more traffic lights throughout the city.

While these measures would likely help reduce the risk of injury to motorists and pedestrians, one group that recently met in Albany wants to go further. Families for Safe Streets is an advocacy group that includes family members of deceased auto accident victims, and the organization has asked lawmakers to approve a bill that would lower the citywide speed limit from 30 to 20 miles per hour.

Aside from the deeper reduction in speed, a distinguishing aspect of the bill is that it doesn’t involve a plan for installing traffic cameras. According to Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, who is sponsoring the proposal, some lawmakers may support a speed-limit reduction but oppose adding more surveillance cameras. Coupling the two measures might “consolidate the opposition,” he said.

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In New York, drivers and pedestrians can be held liable for what is known as contributory negligence. For example, an insurance company or a driver may claim that an injured pedestrian’s negligence contributed to a crash. It may be up to a court, then, to compare the percentage of fault that can be attributed to either party.

If an injured pedestrian is found to have been 25 percent at fault for a collision, then the pedestrian can only receive 75 percent of compensation for total damages. It is easy to see, then, why so many plaintiffs seek legal help in calculating the full cost of damages and negotiating for a fair settlement. At-fault drivers and insurance companies may go to great lengths to claim contributory negligence on the part of an injured pedestrian.

The factors that cause injuries in pedestrian accidents are many and various. The initial impact may cause serious injuries, but often pedestrians and bicyclists are knocked into the air and land on the ground or pavement. That second impact can also be devastating. In other cases, pedestrians are struck by numerous vehicles, and it may become necessary to prove liability on the part of multiple drivers.

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With proof of liability in mind, let’s consider this scenario: an already intoxicated person enters a drinking establishment or a liquor store and buys alcohol, drinks it, and then drives and crashes into another person, causing injuries.

If this series of events were to happen in New York, would the person or establishment that sold the alcohol to the already drunken driver be responsible in any way for the crash? As with many legal matters, the answer depends on the available evidence.

New York’s dram shop laws provide that, under certain circumstances, alcohol vendors can be held legally responsible for a crash caused by a drunk driver. Proving dram shop liability generally requires evidence showing that the drunk driver was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcohol was purchased. Different people show signs of intoxication in different ways, and the help of a personal injury attorney is typically necessary to prove that an alcohol purchaser was visibly intoxicated.

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With the offense of drunk driving in mind, let’s consider two auto accident scenarios and how insurance adjusters are likely to approach them. First, say a driver pulled out in front of a vehicle that police determined was going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. A crash occurred, and the driver who pulled in front of the speeding vehicle was injured.

When gathering information about a car accident, an insurance adjuster is likely to be thinking about the possibility of a civil lawsuit going to trial. In other words, the adjuster in this case is going to focus on the fact that the injured motorist pulled out in front of the speeding driver. This detail could motivate an insurance company to offer a small settlement and risk the case going to court.

In other words, the injured party in this scenario may need a strong legal team to negotiate an appropriate settlement and take the case to trial if necessary.

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In some kinds of auto accidents, there isn’t much debate about who was primarily at fault for the crash. For example, rear-end collisions and left-turn collisions almost always involve a driver who was either following too closely, speeding, not paying attention, or inappropriately turning in front of oncoming traffic.

Still, proving liability in such an accident isn’t always as simple as one might assume. There could be factors that an insurance provider will try to use to reduce or deny a payout to an injured motorist, and New York residents who have been hurt in a car accident should be aware of how liability is proven after a crash.

With rear-end collisions, it is usually safe to assume that the rear-end driver is the one at fault, but evidence such as photographs of vehicular damage will nonetheless be necessary to prove accident liability. If a driver in front of you slows down too quickly and causes another motorist to hit you from behind, then the driver in front of you could also be found liable.

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People who have been involved in serious auto accidents often face a wide range of short- and long-term obstacles after the crash. If the collision results in injuries, then handling insurance matters while receiving ongoing medical treatment can be especially frustrating.

In a previous post, we discussed what information New Yorkers should gather in order to cover some legal bases following a car accident. Now let’s consider a few matters related to filing an accident claim with an insurance company.

In New York, drivers are required to have insurance coverage for bodily injury liability. This type of insurance will cover the cost of your medical care only if you are not at fault for the crash.

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The immediate aftermath of an auto accident can be chaotic. There may be major vehicular damage, and physical injuries always make difficult situations worse. However, New Yorkers who have been involved in a car accident can take some basic precautions to help ensure that the crash is treated fairly by insurance companies and the law.

First, remain on the scene, and try to stay calm. Leaving the scene of a car accident can have serious legal repercussions, especially if someone was injured. If a person in the other vehicle was hurt, or if you think something you did might have contributed to the collision, then it is best not to apologize. Rather, call 911 and wait for help. Apologizing for an accident could hurt your chances of receiving a fair amount of compensation, even if you were also injured and the other driver was clearly more at fault for the crash.

It is also important to record the other driver’s information, such as name, phone number, address, make and model of the car, license plate number, insurance carrier, and the driver’s insurance policy number. You may also want to talk to witnesses, but don’t say too much about your role in the accident, even if it wasn’t your fault.

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