Finding any personal injury attorney is often as easy as an online search. However, finding one with extensive experience dealing with auto accident victims requires a better understanding of their case history and how they can help you. Therefore, before hiring a lawyer or filing a claim on your own, consider what to look for in a personal injury lawyer.
What To Look for in a Manhattan Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you want to find an auto accident attorney who will help you build a strong case, consider a few essential factors. Do they have an office? This is a clear indicator that they are established and have resources. Do they have a team with other legal professionals to help research and build a case? Talk to them about who will work on your case and establish their credentials. Law firms with multiple qualified attorneys have more heads to put together and evaluate your case. Ultimately, two of the most important questions you will ask are regarding their experience with similar cases and their fee structure.
Do They Have Experience Working With Car Accident Victims?
Personal injury lawyers practice tort law. Most have experience in various cases, including medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, wrongful death, and any case where negligence or malintent results in bodily harm. However, most specialize in one or more areas of personal injury law. For example, because vehicle accidents are the most common form of personal injury claims, most personal injury attorneys have some background in the following types of cases:
- Collisions involving one or more passenger vehicles
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists
- Bus accidents
- Collisions involving rideshare vehicles
During your initial consultation with an attorney, there is no obligation to hire them. However, remember this is your chance to ask questions as well. Inquire about their auto accident experience and examples of settlement value.
How Do They Charge for Their Services?
Legal fees can be scary for most people. People often avoid speaking with an attorney because they assume the upfront expense is more than they can handle. Personal injury attorneys always offer free case evaluations without obligation or pressure to hire. During the initial consultation, discuss how the firm structures fees. Most offer their services on contingency. They recognize the financial devastation a car accident can cause, especially when your injuries and losses are severe. With compiling medical bills and the inability to work, many people could not afford legal representation. To ensure they have the option and the opportunity to recover more losses and adequately value their claim, most personal injury attorneys rely on their expertise to guarantee payment for their services.
In general, personal injury attorneys working on contingency will start building your case and acting as your professional representative without upfront fees. Their payment depends upon their ability to win your case. Without a win, they forfeit legal fees. For this reason, you can trust that an attorney willing to take on your auto accident case has confidence in their ability to win.
Laws Governing Auto Accidents in Manhattan
As you approach an auto accident claim or lawsuit, you would benefit from considering various ways the laws that govern these cases could affect your claim for compensation. For example, consider whether your injuries allow you to bypass the state’s no-fault laws and whether or not you played a role in the accident’s cause.
When Can You File a Negligence-Based Claim?
Roughly a dozen states have a no-fault auto insurance requirement, and New York is one of them. As a driver in Manhattan, you must carry personal injury protection insurance to cover your medical expenses and lost income in the event of a car accident. PIP insurance will cover only 80% of your lost income and cap at $2,000 per month. You may also recover $25 per day for up to one year to cover replacement services necessary during your recovery. For example, if you need to hire someone to care for your child while you heal, you can apply the $25 daily allowance to that service.
However, if your injuries qualify for the serious injury threshold, you no longer must adhere to the PIP claim requirement and can file a fault-based claim against the other driver. The qualifying injuries must meet one of the following experiences:
- Total disability for a minimum of 90 days
- Significant disfigurement
- Limited use of an organ, member, system, or function in the body
- Broken or fractured bones
Suppose you suffered any of these severe injuries. In that case, you could hold the at-fault party responsible for your losses, including the non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, not available through PIP insurance.
How Does the Law Handle Cases Involving Shared Fault?
Fault-based claims require you to prove that the other party is liable for the accident, your injuries, and the damages incurred. If you are at least partially responsible, it will impact your claim. New York governs personal injury cases with shared fault using the pure comparative negligence rule. This means your award will be reduced by a percentage equaling your portion of responsibility. For example, if you are 10% liable, they will deduct 10% from your compensation. You are only ineligible for recovery of damages if you are 100% at fault for the accident.
Tasks a Vehicle Accident Attorney in Manhattan Will Perform for Your Case
When you hire a vehicle accident attorney, they perform nearly all the tasks necessary to build and argue your case:
- Investigating the accident and gathering supportive evidence
- Negotiating with the insurance company
- Filing all paperwork for the claim or lawsuit
- Drafting a demand letter detailing your narrative of the accident, your claims of negligence, and your requested compensation
- Interviewing witnesses
- Identifying recoverable damages
- Adequately valuing your non-economic losses
- Preparing your case for trial if the insurer will not offer a fair settlement
When you hire an experienced attorney, you have a significant advantage. They know where to look for damages you may not realize are recoverable, and they know when to settle and continue fighting based on evidence supporting your claim.
When To Hire an Attorney
Because of New York’s no-fault system for auto accidents, many auto accident victims need to do little more than file a claim with their provider. However, when your injuries meet the threshold allowing you to file a negligence-based claim, you may need the help of an auto accident lawyer. There is no time too soon to schedule your initial meeting when you have questions about your case. It is genuinely best to speak with an attorney before taking any action. This ensures you make the right choice from the start and do nothing that could negatively impact your ability to receive compensation.
At Cellino Law, we help auto accident victims get the compensation they need to recover physically, emotionally, and financially. Our team is dedicated to helping people hold the negligent driver in their case accountable and protecting the rights provided by personal injury law. If you suffered a severe injury and have questions about your case, contact Cellino Law at (800) 555-5555 to schedule your free case evaluation today. You can reach us anytime and talk to an experienced Manhattan vehicle accident attorney.