A car accident can feel overwhelming, no matter how minor it is. Nobody plans to have an accident. Unfortunately, though, they can happen at any time — and no time seems convenient for a vehicle crash. They can lead to property damage, injuries and lost wages for the victim and the passengers and pedestrians.
Luckily, most of the vehicle crashes reported are not severe. In 2021, preliminary data shows that there were 334,880 vehicle crashes in the state of New York. Of those cases, about 20% were minor accidents and about 71% involved property damage.
When you are in a car accident, all you want is to get back to normal as soon as possible. In some cases, the process goes smoothly. Other times, though, it takes more effort to move forward and get the compensation you need to restore your former lifestyle. In these instances, you may wonder if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit, even after a minor accident.
How Long Do You Have To File a Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit after a motor accident in New York varies. The state of New York requires that you file a lawsuit within three years of the accident if anyone was injured. The same amount of time — three years — applies if someone seeks compensation for repairing or replacing personal property, such as getting the vehicle fixed.
Other types of accidents have shorter timelines. A crash that results in a fatality has a statute of limitations equal to two years. In addition, an accident that takes place in New York City or involves a municipal vehicle has a statute of limitations of only 90 days.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
To understand the time frame the law gives you to file a lawsuit, you should know what a statute of limitations is. It is a regulation that defines the maximum amount of time that disputing parties have to begin civil or criminal legal proceedings from the date of the incident.
Your car accident case must get started during the time frame that the statute of limitations defines. If you try to file a lawsuit after it has passed, the courts will probably throw out your case unless you can apply a rare exception to the rule.
It is imperative for this reason that you start legal proceedings as soon as possible. You don’t want unforeseen delays to cause you to miss your window of opportunity.
Waiting longer than necessary can also jeopardize your case. It would be helpful if you allow everyone working on your case as much time as possible to perform a thorough investigation. Your team also needs to determine the best time to file your case. The closer you are to the deadline to file a lawsuit, the less time you have to make crucial decisions.
Can You Sue for a Minor Vehicle Accident?
A minor car accident can be straightforward to handle in some cases. Ideally, your insurance company offers you the amount that you need to cover your losses. New York Is one of 12 no-fault states. This term means that the state employs personal injury protection. Regardless of which party was at fault or whether negligence was a factor in the accident, the victim’s insurance company pays for economic losses and other reasonable and necessary expenses. These costs may include:
- Medical payments
- Lost wages
- Other expenses related to injuries from the accident
The insurance company pays up to $50,000 per person to everyone injured, including drivers, passengers and pedestrians. This amount is known as basic no-fault coverage. Note that the coverage is only for personal injuries and does not cover damage to vehicles in the accident.
A person can become ineligible for no-fault benefits under particular circumstances. They include:
- Causing an accident when driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Intentionally causing injuries
- Riding in a vehicle the person knows to be stolen
- Owning an uninsured vehicle
- Sustaining injuries while committing a felony
Because New York state has no-fault coverage, people can only file auto accident lawsuits for losses that exceed the $50,000 amount. What does this mean for you? You do have the right to sue after a minor vehicle accident for losses, including:
- Medical expenses that exceed $50,000
- Compensation for damages
- Pain and suffering, as defined in New York’s no-fault insurance law, if you sustain a severe injury
- An injury that results in death
After an accident, the insurance company conducts an investigation. The company will probably offer you a settlement agreement based on the results of their analysis. Keep in mind that you are not required to accept any settlement the insurance company provides you. You may choose to appeal to the adjuster’s supervisor or file a lawsuit.
Do You Need an Attorney After a Minor Car Accident?
You may wonder if you need the help of an attorney after a minor vehicle accident in New York. After all, if the insurance company pays you for wages and medical expenses, the process should be pretty straightforward, right?
After an accident, even a minor one, most people feel very stressed. A fender-bender or low-speed crash can leave you shaken. It isn’t always easy to think clearly or make the best decisions when you’re under pressure.
At Cellino Law, we are here to take some of the anxiety away from you. We proudly deliver a risk-free initial consultation to injury victims. We can answer the questions you have related to your accident, such as:
- Will you have enough insurance coverage to pay your medical bills?
- How much of your lost wages can you recover?
- How can you pay for car repairs?
If you aren’t sure if you need an attorney, give us a call. It doesn’t matter how minor your accident is — you can still take advantage of the guidance an experienced car crash lawyer offers. Let our team of lawyers at Cellino Law help you through the process of navigating your rights. We have experience dealing with insurance companies, and we can ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation you have coming.
You may be worried about paying lawyer fees up front after an accident. After your free initial consultation, we work on a contingency fee payment plan for our services. This method offers you the advantage of only paying when we win. It also motivates our legal team to get you the best outcome possible. In most cases, fees are about 25% to 40% of the value of your settlement.
Contact Cellino Law Today for a Free Consultation After Your Minor Accident
At Cellino Law, we can help when you’re the victim of a car accident. Our team can offer you a free initial consultation and provide the legal advice you need. You can talk to us confidentially about your accident and ask any questions you have.
Our lawyers have experience dealing with car crashes of all sizes and types. We are prepared to help you get the compensation you deserve for vehicle damages, lost wages and medical expenses. Our staff can assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact our office today for a free consultation. We are here for you.