The trauma of a car accident could affect the rest of your life. Along with pain and a potentially permanent disability, you may no longer be able to work or support your family. Depending on the nature of the injury, you may never fully recover or remain scarred or disfigured. Every accident is different, but proving negligence in an auto accident claim revolves around whether the at-fault party failed to comply with New York car accident laws.

If you’ve been hurt in a collision, contact Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley. We can fight for your right to recover compensation for your damages and losses.  We are one of the premier personal injury firms in New York. For more than 50 years, we have handled and won all manner of cases, including car accidents, and we would like to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Driver in New York

Driving in New York is a privilege, not a right. If you are involved in a traffic accident, you must stop. Failure to do so, or leaving the scene of an accident under certain circumstances, is a criminal violation. In addition, you must also do the following:

  • Exchange your name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle registration, and insurance information with all drivers involved.
  • Report any injuries or fatalities to the police immediately.
  • If possible, move your vehicle off the road. Get yourself and others involved out of harm’s way.
  • Report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days if a fatality, personal injury, or property damage exceeds $1,000. Failure to report an accident is a criminal offense that could lead to license or registration revocation or suspension.

Finally, report the accident to your insurance company. However, do not agree to any settlement without consulting a New York car accident lawyer.

Filing a Car Accident Claim in New York: Procedures and Deadlines

You must file a written notice of claim with your insurer no more than 30 calendar days after the accident. This notice must include the time, place, and circumstances of the collision. Due to the state’s no-fault laws, you can only file a personal injury lawsuit in a car accident if you have sustained a serious injury, which is defined as the following:

  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of a body organ or system

You can also sue if suffering a non-permanent injury that prevents you from performing the material acts constituting your usual daily activities. This impairment must last at least 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the accident.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally three years from the accident date. However, if the accident involved any vehicle owned by a town, city, county, or agency, such as a city bus, public school bus or garbage truck, you must file a Notice of Claim within ninety days of the accident.

It is crucial to consult a New York car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Waiting too long means critical evidence could disappear. For example, a key witness may move and prove impossible to reach.  

Determining Fault in a Car Accident

New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. Generally, you must file a claim under your own car insurance policy, i.e., Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It provides reimbursement, up to policy limits, for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, as noted above, you can go outside the no-fault system and file a claim against the at-fault party if you are seriously injured. 

To establish negligence, your lawyer must prove the following four elements:

1.    The defendant owed you a duty of care which in this case involves driving safely.

2.    The defendant breached this duty, for example, by driving distracted.

3.    The breach caused your crash because the at-fault party didn’t see your brake lights and rear-ended you.

4.    You suffered damages as a result, which could include lost wages and medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering

New York is a Pure Comparative Fault Jurisdiction

New York follows a pure comparative fault system. An accident victim can still recover damages unless they are 100 percent responsible for the accident. However, the amount of damages they may recover would be reduced by their percentage of fault.

For instance, if a jury determines that the plaintiff is 20 percent responsible for the accident, their award is reduced by that amount. A $100,000 award is reduced to $80,000. In theory, under the pure comparative fault system, someone who is 90 percent responsible for the collision could still receive 10 percent of any damages awarded. 

Why Legal Representation is Crucial for Your Case

A New York car accident lawyer will investigate your case thoroughly to prove negligence. We can review police and medical reports, interview eyewitnesses, and obtain evidence, such as dashcam footage. For example, we might file a formal request or subpoena surveillance video footage showing how the accident occurred. If distracted driving played a role in the crash, we might subpoena the at-fault driver’s cellphone records to determine whether they were texting at the time of the accident. 

Schedule a Free Consultation at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley

If you were injured in a car accident due to another party’s negligence or recklessness, we can help. We thoroughly understand the nuances and scope of New York state car accident laws. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. We serve all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester County, the Hudson Valley, and Rockland County.