Defining an average payout for a T-bone car accident is difficult, given the endless variations in accident consequences. In New York, victims of severe injuries from a car accident can hold the at-fault party responsible for damages and recover their losses. The first step in valuing your claim is to understand the recoverable damages available to you, and an experienced car accident attorney will ensure the adequate valuation of your claim.
How Do You Know What Your Settlement for a T-Bone Accident Is Worth?
Negotiations for a settlement can begin as soon as you file your claim, but before you do, you should understand what your losses are worth. That requires identifying all available compensatory damages and listing them in your claim, including the economic and non-economic losses. Under certain rare circumstances, you could also receive an award for punitive damages.
Economic losses cover the ways your accident and injuries financially impacted you. These can vary significantly depending on the severity of the accident and your injuries. They differ for every case, but the most common claims include the following:
- Necessary medical treatments. Did your injuries require emergency medical care, such as an ambulance and a hospital emergency department trip? You can recover all costs associated with that care, as well as medications, follow-up doctor’s visits, surgeries, therapies, medical devices and ongoing care.
- Lost earning opportunities. Did you miss work during your recovery or lose the ability to perform the job you had before the accident? You can claim all lost income, even lost promotion opportunities.
- Property damage. Did you have to repair or replace your vehicle after the accident? The at-fault driver is responsible for all those expenses.
Every accident has unique consequences that could amount to substantial out-of-pocket expenses. For example, if you were the primary childcare provider in your household, you can claim the cost of interim childcare. The same is true if you need help after the house performing your standard duties or if you have to make structural adjustments to accommodate your injuries, such as adding rails to your steps or a wheelchair ramp.
Non-economic damages allow you to recover compensation for how your accident and injuries negatively affected your life. This includes the emotional and mental impact. Common non-economic losses include the following:
- The pain and suffering you endured because of your physical injuries
- The emotional distress caused by the accident, such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety or depression
- Inability to enjoy life the same way you did before
- Inability to have an intimate relationship with your spouse
Non-economic damages are critical to your claim because they are sometimes more valuable than economic damages. For example, most New York car accident lawyers employ the multiplier method to calculate pain and suffering. This requires them to determine the sum of your current and future medical bills and multiply that by a number from 1.5 to 5. If you suffered severe injuries resulting in a prolonged recovery time with a risk of never fully recovering, you could use a four or five multiplier.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the at-fault driver’s actions displayed egregious disregard for your safety and the safety of everyone on the road. The law refers to those actions as gross negligence. For example, suppose the driver that hit you was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time or chose to drive a vehicle knowing the brake system did not work. In that case, that may result in further punishment through a punitive damages award. The goal is to deter that behavior in the future.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Claim?
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, there is much you can do to protect your health and your right to compensation. As the claimant, you must provide evidence supporting your argument that the other party is liable and show documentation for the damages you incurred. Some steps you can take to help increase your ability to recover damages include the following:
- Report the accident to the police.
- Take photographs of the damage to both vehicles and any visible injuries.
- Seek a complete medical evaluation from a doctor in emergency care.
- Avoid talking to anyone about the accident except to gather contact information from the other driver and eyewitnesses.
- Contact a car accident attorney if you have questions about your case.
Sometimes car accident victims wrongfully assume they do not need to see a doctor. However, this is a risk to your health and your claim. Some internal injuries present delayed symptoms after already causing severe damage. Additionally, proving your injuries is significantly more challenging without medical records.
How Can New York Auto Accident Laws Affect Your Claim?
New York has two significant laws that can impact the value of your claim. The first is the no-fault auto insurance policy that could inhibit you from filing an at-fault claim. The second is the comparative negligence rule, which governs cases involving shared fault.
No-Fault Auto Insurance
New York is among only a few states requiring all drivers with registered vehicles to carry no-fault auto insurance, known as personal injury protection coverage. When an accident occurs, this law requires you to file a claim through your provider to recover necessary medical expenses, up to $2,000 per month in lost wages and $25 per day for any replacement services, such as childcare.
PIP insurance covers you, anyone driving your vehicle, passengers and pedestrians you hit. However, it has shortcomings. For example, you cannot recover property damage or non-economic losses, and the policy can cap quickly for people who suffer from severe injuries.
The Serious Injury Threshold
New York has a serious injury threshold to accommodate victims of negligent drivers with severe injuries. If your injuries meet the qualifications, you can skip the no-fault policy and file a fault-based claim against the negligent driver, allowing you to recover all available damages. Qualifying injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Complete disability for 90 days
- Limited use of a body function, organ, member or system
- Significant disfigurement
You can begin negotiating your settlement when you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, if the insurer fails to provide a fair offer, you can file a lawsuit with your local civil court.
The Comparative Negligence Rule
If you bear part of the liability for your accident, you can still recover a settlement or award, but your percentage of fault will impact the amount you receive. New York uses the pure comparative negligence rule to govern shared responsibility. According to this rule, you can still recover a portion of the total damages minus your share of liability, even if you are 99% liable. You are only ineligible for damages if you are 100% at fault.
When Do You Need a New York Car Accident Lawyer?
If you meet the threshold for serious injury and need to file an at-fault claim to recover adequate compensation, you may benefit from contacting a car accident lawyer familiar with tort law in New York. Unfortunately, insurance companies are infamously combative and often resort to bad-faith actions to avoid paying a substantial settlement. At Cellino Law, we know how to handle the insurance adjuster and will fight to protect your right to a fast and fair recovery of your losses. Contact us at (800) 555-5555 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.