Personal Injury Lawyer for New York Accident Victims
After you have been injured as a result of another’s negligence—car accident, slip and fall, trip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, pharmacy malpractice, construction accidents etc.—you may decide to seek compensation for your losses. After all, being stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages is never a desirable circumstance. If the accident was caused by someone else’s action or inaction, then why should you have to suffer physically and financially?
Understandably, the process can seem daunting. No Personal Injury Lawyer in the industry of helping injury victims pretends that it’s not. However, the more educated you are in the process, the less stressful and daunting the process can be. This article seeks to explain the steps of a personal injury case—from accident to trial—in the format of a timeline. Although not all of these steps will apply to all cases, it will be helpful to understand the general order of a personal injury case for a New York accident.
9 Steps of a Personal Injury Case in New York
- Accident or Injury Occurs
- Seek Medical Attention
- Consult an Personal Injury Lawyer
- Personal Injury Lawyer Investigates Claim and Medical Records
- Personal Injury Lawyer Files an Insurance Claim or Demands a Settlement
- Personal Injury Lawyer Files a Lawsuit
- Mediation and/or Arbitration
- Accident or Injury Occurs
Nobody ever expects an accident or injury to occur. It’s just not something that people keep in mind during their daily routine. Even if they are conscious of the dangers around them, when the moment strikes, it is still unexpected. At least, it can be frustrating and stressful. At worst, it can be permanently debilitating or deadly.
However inconveniencing or frustrating an accident or injury can be, it’s important to stop, collect your thoughts, and think of the future for you and your family. This mostly takes the form of documenting evidence and following the proper procedures so that you can collect financial compensation for your losses in the future.
If you are injured in any type of accident, make sure you collect evidence as well, using the same general concept.
You should call the police, take lots of pictures(How To Use Your Mobile Phone As A Tool Following Car Accident?), get copies of everything (IDs, insurance cards, license plates, etc.), gather witness contact information, and take notes of any relevant information, like traffic cameras, weather conditions, construction zones, store conditions, conditions on property, who you spoke to, etc. Anything and everything that could help you to prove your case later is relevant. And of course, seek medical attention.
- Seek Medical Attention After an Injury Caused by an Accident
After you are injured in a car accident, construction accident, or suffered any other type of a personal injury, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. Injuries do not always appear right away, especially after a traumatic accident. This is especially true if someone is involved in a particularly severe car accident. Immediately afterward, it is natural to experience a rush of adrenaline and shock. This is your body’s natural ways of eliminating pain so that you can get out of a dangerous situation. This bodily response is why people with serious injuries can do amazing feats in the heat of battle or some other traumatic event.
Even if you do not think you are injured, you should still be seen by a medical professional right away. This is done for two reasons.
First, you may have an injury that you cannot see or feel at first. For example, an EMT may notice that you have signs of a concussion or whiplash. Second, in the event you start to feel pain later—which is quite likely—you will have proof that you saw a doctor right away.
Insurance companies can often use a situation in which someone denies treatment at first against them as a supposed sign “they weren’t really injured.” Even if you don’t go to the hospital in the ambulance that arrives, you should still head straight there or to a medical doctor right after all the other necessities are handled.
- Consult Personal Injury Lawyer Brooklyn NY
Some may think that this step seems to come a little early in the time line. That, perhaps you should wait to see what the insurance will offer or wait for a diagnosis before you seek the advice of a legal professional? This is not the case; and for a simple reason: personal injury lawyers will not take cases that do not need an attorney. So, you have nothing to worry about when just seeking their advice. At best, they help you get a settlement that is much greater than what an insurance company would give you on your own. At worst, you use the free consultation to get some much needed advice.
According to a study done by the Insurance Research Council, those who hire an attorney in a personal injury case receive a 3.5 times larger settlements than those who settle with the insurance adjuster on their own.
When you meet with an experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney of The Rybak Firm, PLLC., they will assess if you have a workable case and determine the best course of action for you. At The Rybak Firm, PLLC., we offer Free and Confidential Consultation and Case Review and all personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. That means that you don’t have to pay any costs or fees until we recover compensation for you.
- Personal Injury Lawyer Investigates Your Claim and Medical Records
Once you hire a Personal Injury Lawyer, they will begin to investigate the claim and review your case. The first thing that your Personal Injury Attorney will do is thoroughly interview you. They will want to know how the accident happened, information about your background, and any injuries and medical conditions you had before and after the incident. They will also need to know any and all places where you received medical treatment for your accident related injury.
This process is often done by someone called an Intake Specialist. Some of the information may be personal and some may seem irrelevant, but there is a reason for every question. Most importantly, a personal injury attorney needs to be ready for anything and do their best to avoid any surprises later. If you were injured in the past, tell your personal injury attorney. If you have large debts, tell your personal injury attorney. Clients and attorneys should be as honest with each other as possible.
Next, the personal injury lawyer will begin to collect all of your medical records and bills relating to the injury sustained. This will include all the doctors that treated you, medical reports, treatment notes and recommendations, medication prescribed, etc. This too will be thorough. Sometimes this can take a long time, depending on your treatment. The process will take time. Experienced personal injury attorneys will help you through the process and ensure you are getting the medical treatment you need despite your ability to pay.
- Personal Injury Lawyer Files an Insurance Claim or Demands a Settlement
Many personal injury cases are settled before they ever reach a courtroom. This is a good thing in some circumstances, and not so in others. Some firms take on mass amounts of clients with the intent of settling early for a low amount. If they do this enough times, they can make a lot of money. However, a good personal injury attorney will analyze the unique situation, using the threat of court to their advantage. This is the difference between hiring an experienced personal injury law firm vs. a big-budget settlement-mill.
In New York car accidents, first, a claim will be filed with the at-fault driver’s insurance company before an actual lawsuit is filed. A minimal amount of car insurance coverage is required in most states. In New York State, this is known as Personal Injury Protection. If the injury was not caused by a car accident, your personal injury attorney will look into who was at-fault and begin a claim with their insurance. In slip and fall accidents, this may be the store’s liability insurance carrier. In cases of medical malpractice and medical errors, it may be with the hospital’s liability insurance carrier.
After filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the case and negotiate a settlement. If an insurance company is not involved, a demand letter can be sent to the other party mandating a settlement for the injuries sustained. A demand letter lays out what the damages are, what compensation is expected, and why.
If your claim involves a claim of permanent disability or impairment, an experienced personal injury lawyer will not settle it before filing suit. They will also not make a demand until the plaintiff has reached what is called a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is when the plaintiff has ended their medical treatment and is as recovered as they are going to get. This is to ensure that you will get the maximum value of your case. You wouldn’t want to settle your personal injury case, then find you need a surgery a month later, the cost for which was not covered in the original settlement amount. Once the personal injury case is settled, a plaintiff cannot ask for more money. Similarly, a personal injury lawyer should not file a lawsuit until a client reaches MMI for the same reasons as above.
- Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If a settlement with the insurance company cannot be reached—mostly likely because they refuse to pay what the case is worth—it is time to file a personal injury lawsuit. Under New York Statute, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within three (3) years of the injury or accident. However, the sooner the better.
Lawsuits are not always the best course of action, but sometimes it is the only thing that insurance companies respond to. They may feel greater pressure to reach a fairer settlement once the lawsuit has been filed against them. It is not cheap to go to trial for either side, especially for large insurance companies. For them, going to court often means hiring high-paid lawyers and proceeding with expensive discovery. In lots of cases, it is cheaper for the insurance carrier to just increase their offer.
When a lawsuit is filed, a formal complaint on your behalf is submitted to the court. The court will then have the other party served with the paperwork. The other party will then have a limited amount of time to formally file an answer to the complaint, and also file any counterclaims they may have. If a counterclaim is filed, then your New York personal injury lawyer will respond to the counterclaim on your behalf.
Discovery is the process in which each party investigates what the other party’s legal claims and defenses are. Each side submits requests for interrogatories and any document they may need that the other side has. At this point, each side will take depositions of all of the relevant witnesses in the case, including yourself (the plaintiff) and the at-fault party (the defendant).
At the deposition, the opposing attorney will ask a series of questions, recorded under oath, to the person being deposed. The deposition is recorded by an official court reporter, either by audio or by video. Testimony given at depositions is important for counsels to ensure that there will be no surprises in court. It also gives them the opportunity to get an official account of the other party’s side of the story.
This is also the point at which each side will begin to hire expert witnesses to testify on their behalf. These witnesses could be experts in brain trauma, spinal injuries, accident reconstruction, etc. The defense will also request an independent medical examination (IME) at this point. An IME, sometimes called a compulsory medical exam, is a medical evaluation in which a doctor hired by the defense assesses your injuries. A patient is required to comply.
- Mediation and/or Arbitration
Once all or most of the information from discovery has been collected, both sides’ lawyers will generally start trying to reach a settlement again. This process is known as an alternative dispute resolution. It is kind of a “well now you know what you are up against” situation. Sometimes the lawyers can settle a case just by talking among themselves, sometimes they can’t.
At this point, a process called mediation will most likely be attempted. Mediation is a process in which the clients and the lawyers meet with a both-party-approved mediator to help them reach an agreeable settlement. Both sides speak to the mediator to make their case, then separate into different rooms. From this point, the mediator goes back and forth until a settlement is reached, at which point it is put into writing. If a settlement is not reached, then the lawsuit will continue or the attorneys will decide to go to arbitration.
This second type of alternative dispute resolution is called arbitration. In arbitration, a hearing will take place between the plaintiff and defendant, judged by a neutral third-party. The difference between the two is simple: mediation is not binding, arbitration is. When the arbitrator makes a decision about the settlement, it is final. This process is often thought of as a mini-court case.
Sometimes, a court may require that a case go to arbitration instead of to actual court. This may happen if the judge thinks a reasonable settlement is within reach. Other times, it may be voluntary to save both sides the expense of court costs.
Finally, if a settlement cannot be reached using all the above options, the case will go to trial. Personal injury trials can vary in length from hours to months. At the trial, all the information that has been gathered through discovery (physical evidence, interrogatories, depositions, photos, witnesses, etc.) will all be presented to a jury. The jury will decide on the award amount. Trial are unpredictable. But if all the steps before were followed properly, trials are capable of getting clients the compensation they deserve.
New York Personal Injury Lawyers Who Are On Your Side
If you have been injured in a car accident, construction accident, slip and fall accident or any other type of accident as the result of someone’s negligence, you should seek financial compensation. It is not fair for one family to bear the financial burden caused by another person. In fact, it is your right to recover.
At The Rybak Firm, PLLC., you will experience our commitment to personal service and accessibility. All of the personal injury claims we represent are handled by an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer.
We have been working for years to build a reputation of trust and hard work.
You take the time to recover from your injuries and We will take the time to fight for your rights. Contact us today by calling us at (718) 307-5554 or submitting a contact form on our website. Our response is prompt. We look forward to hearing from you.
Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Our offices are located in Brooklyn, NY. We serve the whole NYC Metro Area and represent clients in every borough of New York City. Our Personal Injury Attorneys are able to travel to you if you are unable to meet at our offices due to an injury. We also provide free transportation to and from our offices.
Our office address is:
1810 Voorhies Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235