The objective of a personal injury claim or lawsuit after a car accident is to recover full and fair compensation for the victim’s expenses and non-economic losses, such as pain, suffering and loss of companionship. In serious car accidents that cause permanent disability or the wrongful death of a family’s breadwinner, the money recovered should ensure the victims’ financial security into the future.
The Ginarte law firm seeks to maximize our clients’ recovery in car accident cases by thoroughly investigating accidents to fully document losses and to determine whether multiple parties may be held liable, as well as identifying all available sources of insurance coverage.
Compensation Available to Injury Victims
A fact often overlooked about personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits is that they seek compensation through insurance. This means the amount of damages (compensation) that may be recovered comes from the insurance coverage the defendant holds.
Because damages are paid by insurance and not out of the defendant’s pocket, you should not be reluctant to file a claim if the negligence or recklessness of a friend, neighbor, colleague or anyone else has significantly injured you. But you’ll need an experienced attorney to ensure that the compensation you obtain is as much as is rightfully available to you. The defendant’s insurers will work to limit what they must pay regardless of how the policyholder feels about the harm you have suffered.
Another fact often overlooked is that in New York, the state’s no-fault insurance system restricts minor car accident claims to medical bills, lost wages and transportation costs for up to three years. The maximum amount payable under no-fault benefits is $50,000 and it comes from the victim’s own auto insurance policy. It does not include property (vehicle) damage or noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
For more extensive claims, accident victims must demonstrate that they have suffered a “serious injury” as defined by state law. Some portions of the relevant law, Section 5102(d) of New York’s Insurance Law, are clear (death, dismemberment, a fracture, etc.) but a portion of the statute is vague and open to interpretation.
Part of our work as car accident attorneys is to determine whether your injuries meet the state’s “serious injury” threshold, which may qualify you for additional compensation.
The compensation sought in a personal injury lawsuit over a serious injury could include money for:
- Medical costs. This is repayment of actual medical expenses, from ambulance service and hospitalization, to surgery, medication, rehabilitation therapy and follow-up doctors’ visits. For a lengthy recovery or a disability, medical costs may include assistive devices, such as a wheelchair or a hospital bed, or even renovations to the victim’s home and the purchase of a specialized motor vehicle. Medical expense recovery is maximized by documenting all payments and projecting future costs based on your expected recovery or how you will adapt to life with a disability.
- Property damage. This includes the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle involved in an accident. After a car accident, a lawsuit may also seek repayment of costs to rent a vehicle or use public transportation while the vehicle in the accident is being repaired. Compensation for property damage may also include damage done to a boat or trailer, or to the victim’s home or other real property if it was part of the car accident.
- Lost income. A suit would ask for damages to replace actual salary or wages you have lost during recovery as well as the value of any bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits or other remuneration that was unavailable to you during your recovery. A lawsuit may also demand compensation for projected losses due to diminished earning capacity and lost career advancement opportunities caused by your injuries.
- Pain and suffering. A jury determines compensation for pain and suffering (in a “serious injury” in New York), sometimes as a multiple of financial damages awarded in the suit. Maximizing a pain-and-suffering award depends in part on the persuasive skills of the plaintiff’s attorney.
A wrongful death lawsuit may also seek damages for:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of companionship, instruction and guidance to survivors (spouse and children, and/or others in some cases).
Additional Liability in a Car Accident
Another means of maximizing your recovery in a car accident case is determining whether a third party or parties may be held liable for your accident. This may include:
- The manufacturer of a faulty part or operating system in the vehicle involved in a car accident if the defect contributed to the accident or made the injuries worse.
- An employer responsible for an employee who was driving as part of his or her job duties.
- The package store, bar, restaurant or party host that served or sold alcohol to an underage or already-intoxicated driver in a drunk driving accident.
Third-party claims can be pursued in addition to a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a car accident.
Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys About Maximizing Your Recovery
It is important to contact an experienced car accident attorney before agreeing to any settlement offer from an auto insurance company. Insurance adjusters are obligated to their employers to limit payouts to accident victims and may offer a settlement before the full costs of your accident are even known.
The car accident lawyers at Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez Winograd L.L.P., will work to ensure that you receive the maximum claim settlement available for your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, pain, suffering and other losses.