Did you know that...

New York state is a no-fault state, which means if you have the required coverage your insurance company pays for the first $50,000 in economic damages from an accident no matter who caused it. If you are involved in an automobile accident that results in more than $1,000 in damages to the vehicle, you must file an MV104A form with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. Failure to file could result in your driver's license being suspended. You can obtain this form through your insurance agent or carrier. In order to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering and for economic loss in excess of $50,000, you must have sustained a serious injury, as defined by law. Serious injury is a complicated definition so, if you require medical care, call a personal injury attorney.

If someone is driving your car with your permission and has an accident, you may be responsible for any damages or lawsuits that result from the accident. Talk to your insurance agent about sufficient protection for your family and your assets. If you leave the keys in your car on the street, you may be responsible for damages if your car is stolen and is involved in an accident.

I was in an auto accident - what should I you do?

First the basics. Check for injuries, call the police, exchange vital information with other drivers and witnesses and document the accident scene. Take pictures if you have a camera. Inform your insurance company by phone and in writing of the accident or of any injuries you sustained. Ask your carrier to send you the forms you will need to start a no-fault claim, which must be filed within 30 days. Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than the police. Stay calm and do not get into an argument with the other driver. Get a copy of the police report. If you believe it to be inaccurate, contact a lawyer who may be able to get it amended. If you are hurt, tell the medical professionals treating you that your bills will be covered by your no-fault insurance. Call an attorney as soon as possible to determine if your injury meets the legal definition of serious injury. Consult with your attorney about an injury that keeps you from working effectively on your job. File the required MV104A form. Your insurance company or agent should send you the form. If you are the plaintiff in a case, consult your attorney before filing the form to ensure you do not inadvertently admit wrongdoing.

When should I call a lawyer?

Although the majority of auto accidents are fender benders with no injuries, do not hesitate to call a personal injury attorney if you are injured in an accident. Some injuries do not appear immediately. The rule of thumb is: If you need medical attention immediately or soon after the accident, you should seek legal advice. Medical costs and loss of income can add up quickly.

Is hiring an attorney expensive?

It shouldn't be. A reputable personal injury attorney will not charge you for an initial consultation. So, if you have any questions about injuries you sustained during an accident, it makes sense to call a lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, which means they get paid only if you do. The standard fee is one-third of the recovery. By law, the client is always responsible for expenses incurred during litigation, even if there is no recovery. Those expenses will be deducted from any settlement before attorney fees are paid. A good personal injury attorney should carefully explain up front the likely costs and fees of a lawsuit, as well as the chances for success. You should be completely aware of the potential costs and likely outcome of your case.

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