Head-on collisions are among the most deadly auto accident types. The victims in these accidents often suffer severe or even fatal injuries. However, when someone else’s negligence is the cause of your accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. With the help of a Manhattan head-on collision lawyer, you can ensure the value of your claim accurately represents the total of your physical, financial, and emotional damages.
Liability in a Head-on Collision
New York has specific laws to cover the roads, and when a driver gets behind the wheel of a car, they have a responsibility to follow these laws to keep themselves and other drivers safe. When a collision occurs, the party at fault for the accident is the one who violated the duty of care owed to other drivers, resulting in a collision. Head-on crashes are typically the result of human error. Some common causes include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving, such as talking on the phone or texting
- Driving while fatigued and falling asleep at the wheel
- Speeding around a curve with low visibility
- Passing in a no-passing zone
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way road
In the aftermath of the accident, several parties conduct independent investigations to determine who was at fault. The first is the police who arrive on this scene. If they can determine who was responsible, they will list it in the crash report. In the event of a lawsuit, your accident attorney will investigate the accident to provide evidence to support your claim. Additionally, the insurance companies involved will investigate as well.
Applicable New York Auto Accident Laws
States mandate their own laws to govern auto accident lawsuits. In New York, three laws will play a role in the outcome of your case: the no-fault insurance requirement, the statute of limitations, and the pure comparative fault rule. Because of the typically aggressive nature of head-on collisions, the court often allows victims to bypass the no-fault insurance laws.
New York is one of only a few states that require all drivers to carry no-fault auto insurance. This insurance, called personal injury protection, covers the following:
- Medical costs deemed reasonable and necessary
- Up to $2,000 per month in lost income for three years
- $25 per day for out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident
- $2,000 in death benefits if the injured party died as a result of the accident
Additionally, PIP covers anyone you, your passengers, anyone driving your vehicle, and any pedestrian injured by your car. However, PIP insurance typically isn’t enough to cover all the damages from a severe accident, which generally is the case with head-on collisions.
Serious Injury Threshold
In New York, your injuries must meet the designed serious injury threshold to bypass PIP insurance laws. You will qualify if you suffered any of the following:
- Complete disability for a minimum of 90 days
- Significant disfigurement, such as amputation
- Limitations of the use of a body system or function
- Broken bones
- Permanent limited use of an organ or member of the body
If you meet the threshold, you can file a lawsuit to hold the at-fault party responsible for damages, including non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Statute of Limitations
Most civil and criminal cases have a statute of limitations, which mandates a time limit for filing a lawsuit. In New York, you have three years to file an auto accident lawsuit with your local civil court, starting with the day of the accident. Should you make mistakes filing the paperwork, causing delays, or miss the cut-off date, the court will likely dismiss your case immediately without reviewing it.
Pure Comparative Fault
Once you file a lawsuit, you should expect the defense to respond to your demands with accusations of fault. They may claim you are wholly or partially responsible for the accident. If you are entirely to blame, you cannot claim compensation for damages. However, under the pure comparative fault rule, New York allows you to claim a portion of damages if you are partially responsible.
The pure comparative fault rule requires the judge or jury to determine what percentage of fault belongs to both parties and reduce the amount of compensation the plaintiff can receive by that amount. Additionally, pure comparative fault does not limit your ability to receive payment based on whether you bear more responsibility than the defendant, which is the case with modified comparative fault. Instead, you can be as much as 99% at fault and still receive compensation.
Potential Damages From a Head-On Collision
The value of your award or settlement comes from the losses you suffered because of the accident. These losses are known as damages, and they come in two forms: economic and non-economic damages. Additionally, the court may deem it necessary to provide you with an award of punitive damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Economic and non-economic damages are the compensatory damages in an auto accident lawsuit. Compensation for both is meant to give you some sense of returning to your life as it was before the accident, financially, physically, and emotionally. Examples of economic and non-economic damages include:
- Expenses incurred from medical care, including hospital and clinic visits, ambulance expenses, medicine, rehabilitative care, and use of medical devices
- Income lost from missed work and projected missed work
- Loss of benefits, such as contributions to retirement plans
- Expenses related to repairing or replacing damaged property, such as your vehicle
- Pain and suffering caused by your physical injuries
- Psychological or emotional distress, including anxiety and depression
Of course, there are limitations to what financial compensation can do for severe psychological damage or losing someone you love.
In cases where the court finds the defendant’s behavior grossly negligent or malicious, they may decide to punish the defendant and award the plaintiff further through payment of punitive damages. For example, if the at-fault driver in your accident was driving under the influence and speeding around a dangerous curb, that constitutes reckless driving and possibly gross negligence. If the defendant saw your vehicle coming and intentionally swerved to hit you head-on, the court may punish them for completely disregarding the value of human life.
Punitive damages are rare in auto accident cases. However, if you speak with a Manhattan head-on collision lawyer, they can help you assess your case’s potential for punitive damages. Additionally, they will help you better understand the compensatory damages you have available for compensation and what you need to prove them.
How a Manhattan Head-On Collision Lawyer Can Help You
The purpose of personal injury law is to offer you a legal avenue to compensation when someone else causes your accident. When you suffer an injury in a head-on collision, you may need the help of a Manhattan head-on collision lawyer to reach a quick and adequate settlement. The legal team at Cellino Law is ready to provide you with the advice you need and the representation you deserve. During your free consultation, you can ask us all the questions you have about your case in confidence, and we can get started on building your case right away. Let our team bring you the compensation you deserve. Contact Cellino Law today to set up your free case evaluation.