As winter weather sets in and holiday traffic starts to clog the roadways, rushed drivers will have another worry to contend with: an increase in accidents. Any time traffic volume peaks or road conditions worsen, the likelihood of accidents grows. During the holidays, another worry compounds that risk: More impaired drivers are on the roads. With packed roads and slippery conditions, one mistake can easily compound into a multi-car accident.
Proving Fault When Multiple Drivers Are Involved in an Accident
When considering multi-car accidents, questions of fault and insurance coverage increase in complexity. Insurers won’t want to pay for damages, especially when many parties have claims. Each driver’s insurer will try to pass liability, or partial liability, to others to decrease their obligation. Do yourself a favor: Don’t try to mediate the dispute on your own. Insurers will only listen to hard facts. An experienced car accident attorney can help you clarify other parties’ fault using accident reenactment and witness testimony.
Navigating Your Insurance After an Accident
Between medical appointments, bills from your garage, and missed work, the expenses from a car accident can add up quickly. Recovering a settlement from insurers, by contrast, may take a long time. Adjusters will dispute everything they can to keep their payout low—after all, any money they give you comes directly out of their bottom line.
Damages to your car or other property will be covered by the at-fault party or parties’ liability insurance. Negotiations in this realm may quickly become complicated as insurers try to protest charges of comparative fault. The more the insurers can blame you for contributing to the dangerous situation that led to the accident, the less they will have to pay toward your car repairs. Your personal injury protection insurance does not help with property damages that result from an accident, so a judgment against you could put pressure on your bank account.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
New York’s no-fault insurance system is designed to help everyone get back on their feet as soon as possible after an accident. Your personal injury protection insurance will cover injuries attributed to your accident and other related expenses such as:
- Lost wages
- Household assistance
- Transportation to medical appointments
Because you don’t have to settle questions of fault before receiving coverage, personal injury protection plans help speed your recovery and mitigate potential expenses. However, complicated or serious injuries can quickly run up medical bills to your plan’s limit. If your bills are high enough that even your insurer can’t cover them all, you may have another option.
How Do Lawsuits Work in a No-Fault Insurance State?
Because New York car insurance doesn’t require proof of fault before paying for personal injuries, there are limitations on when you can file suit. If you are considering taking someone to court for damages, the first thing you must do is meet these two criteria:
- You suffered “serious injury” as defined by New York law
- Monetary damages exceeded your personal injury protection insurance limits OR you have a case for non-monetary damages
The serious injury clause covers circumstances such as dismemberment, disfigurement, broken or fractured bones, and permanent and temporary disability. If your injury fits this category and you meet the second criteria above, you have standing to bring a suit against the at-fault party or parties under New York Law.
Once again, questions of fault may slow this process. Sometimes, lawyers are able to negotiate a settlement for injured parties. If they don’t, your case will go to trial. You’ll need incontrovertible evidence and complete records to convince a jury that your settlement request is not only reasonable, but necessary. Arguing on your own behalf in court isn’t recommended. You should work with a knowledgeable trial lawyer to build a strong case.
Stay Safe this Holiday Season
Whether you’re hosting, visiting family, or celebrating at home, driving in crowded holiday traffic can be dangerous no matter how careful you are. Do your part to keep the roads safe this holiday season.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, contact us onlineor call (718) 690-3132 to schedule your free consultation.