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Motor Vehicle Crashes: Protect Your Legal Rights

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How long will my case take?
As a general rule, cases do not take years to conclude. That is an insurance company myth meant to encourage you to accept a peanut settlement early on and before you have consulted with a motor vehicle accident lawyer. The longest period of time required in just about every case is not for your claim to be settled or set for trial; it is the time it takes for you to treat and fully recover from your injuries. We need to know from your doctors what you will be left with before we can negotiate settlement of any claim.

Why is continuing medical care so important?
No treatment means no case. New York insurance law requires objective medical proof of a “serious injury” in order to present any bodily injury claim from an auto accident for compensation. If your injuries do not rise to the level of “serious injury” as required by New York State law, you do not qualify for an award of damages. You only get your no-fault benefits, and even then, only for as long as the insurer wants to pay them. It is not fair, but it is the current law.

Can I be compensated for old injuries made worse by a recent accident?
Preexisting injuries do not automatically make you ineligible for compensation for new injuries. Very few, people today reach their 30s and beyond without literally experiencing some knocks and bruises along the way, be it sports injuries, on-the-job mishaps and, of course, auto accidents. While you may have had a similar injury or complaint in the past, an orthopedist or a neurosurgeon can distinguish your current condition from your past condition and give expert opinion as to the percentage of exacerbation due directly to the most recent accident.

Is it important to stay with the same insurance company year after year?
Many people stay with the same auto liability insurance carrier for decades, paying premiums year after year without question, and then they’re shocked at the shabby treatment they receive when they are involved in an accident. Loyalty counts for nothing when it comes time for your insurance company to pay you. They play hardball from the moment you report the accident; business is business despite the advertising you are bombarded with and the birthday cards from your agent. Your insurance company is not your friend when it comes to claims.

Is it appropriate to let the other party’s insurer take a recorded statement from me right after the accident?
It is never a good idea to speak about the happening of the accident with the other party’s insurer, since whatever you say will be used for the sole purpose of contradicting you later in the case. At this early stage of events you are, after all, reeling from the trauma of the collision, in pain and confused about the real motivation and role of the adjuster. It is always better to simply take down their contact information and tell them either you or your lawyer will be in touch with them in the near future. 

Written by: Brian Lee 

Brian Lee has been successfully representing clients against insurance companies since 1982. He strictly limits his practice to motor vehicle accidents. He is admitted to practice before all New York State courts, the District of Columbia courts and the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Brian was graduated with honors in history from Hamilton College (1978) and earned his Juris Doctor from Franklin Pierce Law Center (1982). He served as Captain, JAG, United States Army Reserve, until 1999. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association, Saratoga County Bar Association, District of Columbia Bar Association, Capital District Trial Lawyers Association, New York State Trial Lawyers Association and the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has received a CV Peer Review rating by Martindale-Hubbell. The CV certification denotes above-average ability in his specialized practice area and unquestionable ethics. He was recently named as a 2017 10 Best New York Personal Injury Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys.