Experienced Attorney Fighting for the Rights of Accident Victims in New York
Car crashes are an everyday part of life in New York, and the overwhelming majority of them are caused by preventable driver negligence — things like speeding, tailgating, driving while drunk, or texting behind the wheel.
If you have been injured in an auto accident in Albany, you aren’t alone. Statistics tell us that most people will be involved in a car crash at some point in their lives, and many of these accidents involve injuries or other damages.
But the fact that crashes are common doesn’t mean they’re acceptable or trivial. On the contrary, even a moderate auto accident can cause significant disruption in your life. You don’t deserve to suffer that disruption on your own.
If your accident was caused by someone else’s carelessness, you are entitled to financial compensation for your damages under New York law.
More often than not, that means pursuing a claim against an insurance company. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying you the money you deserve. An experienced Albany car accident lawyer can help to protect you from their tactics.
At The Law Offices of Patrick J. Higgins, PLLC, we work hard to get our clients the largest possible amount of financial compensation. Our firm has the experience, knowledge, and resources to take a strategic stand against even the most powerful and aggressive insurance companies.
Here is How we can help answer your questions:
We would like to stand by your side throughout your recovery, handling the whole process for you, from beginning to end.
But first, you probably have questions. Most people do. In the sections that follow, you’ll learn more about your rights under New York law, how auto accident claims work, and how an experienced Albany car accident lawyer can help.
If after reading below, you want more detailed information on each of these topics, and other topics involving automobile crash cases, click here, and read away. If that information is not enough, congratulations, you can click here and we will send you a free copy of Patrick J. Higgins book that teaches lawyers about crash crashes and personal injury litigation in New York State.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in New York
Most auto accidents happen because someone chooses not to devote their full attention to the task at hand. Driving is a serious responsibility, and motorists owe a duty of care to the drivers, passengers, and pedestrians around them. Careful driving is a choice, and sadly, many drivers today do not make that choice.
As a result, at fault drivers cause New York car crashes by:
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Following too closely (tailgating)
- Road rage incidents
- Reckless driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Making dangerous mergers or turns
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Drowsy driving
- Poor vehicle maintenance –including faulty brakes, cracked windshields, bald tires, etc.
- Breaking traffic safety laws created to protect other drivers and pedestrians
An experienced Albany car accident lawyer can help you determine whether the at-fault driver in your situation might have engaged in these or other dangerous behaviors. Each of these examples may represent a breach of the duty of care, meaning the other driver may be liable for your damages.
Common Injuries After a Car Accident
A car crash can cause a wide range of injuries, which varies significantly on the severity and type of crash..
It’s important to understand that even moderate injuries can lead to significant injuries and financial loss, and you may be entitled to recover for that loss under New York law.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your injuries aren’t serious enough to support a claim until you’ve talked to your doctor and reviewed the matter with an experienced Albany car accident lawyer.
Some of the most common injuries after a car accident in New York include:
- Fractured, shattered and broken bones
- Torn, and ripped ligaments, tendons, and cartilage
- Destruction or knee, hip, ankle and shoulder joints with resulting post-traumatic arthritis
- Scarring and disfigurement which can last a lifetime
- Internal bleeding / organ damage
- “Dashboard Knee” injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, brain bleeds, contrecoup injuries, and internal damage to the brain structures caused by trauma and compression
- Spinal cord injury
- Burst, compression, wedging and comminuted fractures of the spine
- Herniated and Bulging Discs
Even a low-speed collision can cause significant injuries, including a TBI. In fact, car accidents are the single most common cause for for brain injuries.
It’s important to see a doctor soon after your crash for a comprehensive diagnostic exam to completely understand the full scope of your injuries. Many injuries – such as nerve damage and herniated and bulging discs – make take time and the proper specialist to properly diagnose.
New York Car Accident Law
New York car accident law is complex. If you have recently been injured in an auto accident, there’s a lot you will need to know about the laws in our state and how they might apply to your rights after the crash.
Below, we provide a general overview of some of the most important considerations in New York car accident law.
Statute of Limitations
There is a limited window of time for filing a claim in court after a car accident in New York. In most cases, the time limit is just three years from the date of the accident, though exceptions apply. This time limit is called the “statute of limitations,” and it is rigidly enforced. If a claim is not brought within the statute of limitations, the claim is forever barred.
Calculating the statute of limitations isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. The specific circumstances of your accident could mean that different rules apply.
You should never assume how much time you do or don’t have to take action after an accident. Instead, talk with an Albany car accident lawyer about your options as soon as possible. Auto accident claims take time to prepare, and the formal filing of a claim may follow weeks or months of negotiation. It is in your best interest to give that process time to play out, while preserving the statute of limitations, so it’s important not to delay.
Like most states, the State of New York requires every driver in our state to carry liability car insurance.
Unfortunately, many drivers carry only the bare-minimum coverage of $25,000 in automobile liability insurance, which can fall far short of what is needed to compensate a victim’s losses after a crash.
To protect yourself, it’s a good idea to add Supplemental Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (SUM) to your existing car insurance policy. This optional coverage is often available for just a few dollars a month, and it can provide additional coverage if the at fault driver in your case doesn’t have enough insurance to reimburse you for the damages he or she caused in your crash.
For example, if a drunk driver hits you, and you suffer multiple broken bones and other damages, and that driver only has $25,000, and you have SUM coverage through your own insurance carrier of $300,000, if the facts and injuries warrant it, you will be able to recover the $25,000 from the drunk driver, and $275,000 more from your SUM carrier, giving you $300,000 in compensation. Without the SUM coverage, as to the insurance coverage, you would only recover $25,000 in coverage. That is why SUM coverage is so important for drivers in New York State.
By the way, you do not need a lawyer to look into this. Just call your insurance agent, broker, or insurance company.
However, even if you don’t have SUM coverage and you get hit by someone who doesn’t have adequate insurance, it’s important to talk to an Albany car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other options for recovery available to you.
No-Fault Insurance State
New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means that insurance companies must cover certain bills from the crash, such as medicals bills and a percentage of lost wages. This is in every crash, no matter whose fault it is. Generally, you will receive these benefits through your carrier, and you should notify them immediately, as there are time limits..
No fault covers your medical bills, a percentage of your lost wages, mileage to and from your doctor’s office, or the hospital, or physical therapy. The no-fault payment system is different than the liability compensation system in New York.
The difference is in general that no-fault does not cover the change in your physical capabilities or function that occurred in a crash, it does not covers medical bills up to certain amount, it does not cover scarring, or pain and suffering, or all lost wages, or loss of enjoyment of life, among other things. To recover these damages against the at-fault driver you must pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company. There are certain requirements to pursue such a claim, including what is called the “serious injury threshold.” This means that certain types of injuries qualify, and certain don’t.
An experienced Albany car accident lawyer can help you with these matters, and will identify each potentially liable party and develop a strategy for working with you to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Car Accident?
If you were recently injured in an auto accident, you are now at the beginning of a long and complex claims process — a process you never asked to be a part of, or wanted to be part of. Clients tell us “I never thought I would be in this position, or “I am only looking to get back what I lost” or “I am not the suing type…” We reassure them that they didn’t volunteer for this assignment, it was the driver’s bad choices that put them where they are, and that it is not their fault.
In a perfect world, you would call the insurance company, they would review your medical and wage information, and then they would compensate you fairly and fully for what you lost in the crash.
We are sorry – but it doesn’t work like this. The process isn’t always easy or fair. On the contrary, if an insurance company is involved, it means there is a powerful corporation actively working against you.
Why is that ? The insurance company’s goal is to look out for its shareholders. They profit by paying as little as possible on accident claims — even when the claim is perfectly legitimate and the damages are real, significant and obvious.
Your lawyer’s job is to handle every aspect of your claim while representing your best interests, while at the same time taking the weight off your shoulders while you try to get back on your feet. That means:
- Taking your phone calls, visiting you at home, and understanding what you are going through
- Giving you honest and strategic advice
- Making sure that the insurance company doesn’t call or bother you
- Protecting you from the insurance company’s most aggressive tactics
- Helping you to avoid costly mistakes, which are all too easy to make
- Consulting with expert witnesses and eyewitnesses as needed
- Gathering video surveillance, police reports, medical records, and other types of persuasive evidence
- Conducting extensive legal research
- Engaging in strategic negotiations
- Exploring alternative sources of compensation, where available
- Dealing with insurance representatives, creditors, and other “red tape” headaches so that you don’t have to
- Representing your interests in court, if that’s what it takes
Hiring the right lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim. With an attorney on your side, you will have an experienced advocate working exclusively in your best interest at every turn, making the insurance company recognize the severity of the losses and damages caused by the at-fault driver, which taking the weight off you as the client.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take?
No two auto accidents are quite alike. The time frame for pursuing justice in your case will depend on a number of factors, including but not necessarily limited to:
- The complexity of the evidence involved
- Whether you have a claim against more than one party
- Whether there is a dispute about liability in your case
- The insurance policy provisions that apply to your claim
- How long your physical recovery is expected to take
- The court’s current caseload (if your claim goes to trial)
- The nature and severity of your injuries
Some claims are resolved in a matter of weeks or a few months. More complex claims may require many months or over a year to resolve. At our firm, our mantra is “the case follows the medicine.” We are not going to approach the insurance company to resolve anything unless we know from the client’s medicals that he or she has reached maximum medical improvement, meaning that the client has medically gotten back as much as is going to come back. Only then can we evaluate the full extent of the injuries and thus the case, and get the client a recovery for the full extent of damages.
At The Law Offices of Patrick J. Higgins, PLLC, we will do everything we can to handle your case efficiently while also maximizing the amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
We understand that part of healing means putting the whole ordeal behind you once and for all. It is not usually possible to do that while you must continually deal with the details of the crash, and your recovery. Therefore we tread a fine line between getting the information we need to move your claim to the end stage, while respecting your need to heal and adjust to any life changes caused by the crash.
We encourage you to schedule a free case review with our office to get a better sense of how long your car accident claim might take, and how to work your recovery in with that claim.
How Much Compensation Can I Get After a Car Accident Claim?
New York recognizes a wide range of personal injury damages, including but not necessarily limited to:
- Loss of ability to enjoy hobbies and life as before the crash
- Past present and future lost wages
- Past present and future inability to work
- Loss of health insurance
- Past, present and future pain and suffering
- Permanent damage to your body, including scarring and disfigurement
- Hospital & physician bills
- Other medical costs, including home health aides, wheelchair accessible housing and structures
- Loss of ability to perform work and services around the home
- Claims by one spouse for loss of affection support and assistance
- Lost income after missing work
- Physical therapy / rehabilitation
- Property damage (e.g. vehicle damage, loss of personal property)
- Shock, fear, terror, Emotional distress
- Permenant disability
- Diminished quality of life
- Wrongful death damages
- Aggravation or precipitation of injuries existing before the crash
You may be entitled to financial compensation for these and other losses, depending on the circumstances of your crash.
In cases involving extreme negligence or insurance bad faith, victims may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are a special type of compensation intended to punish the defendant. If punitive damages are available, they are awarded to the plaintiff (i.e. the person filing the claim) in addition to any compensation for their economic and emotional damages. These claims usually involve a driver that has repeatedly and knowingly driven impaired to the extent that he is charged with criminally reckless driving, or similar circumstances.
While it is impossible to guarantee a particular outcome in any legal matter, we understand that taking legal action is a big decision. You want some idea of what you might be able to recover before making that decision.
To get a better sense of how much compensation might be available to you, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an Albany car accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Patrick J. Higgins, PLLC.
Once we learn more about the specifics of your case, we can help you understand how the law might apply to your situation. We can also tell you how much money people in situations similar to yours have recovered in Albany-area accident claims in the recent past.
Can I Still Be Compensated If I Was Partially at Fault?
New York follows a rule called pure comparative negligence, which means you can recover damages after a car crash — even if you were partially at fault for your own accident.
No matter how much of the fault was yours, you won’t be barred from recovery. Rather, your total recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Your Albany car accident lawyer can fight for a fair apportionment of fault in your case, with an eye toward securing the largest amount of monetary compensation available under the circumstances.
It’s also important to remember that there is a distinction between assuming that you were at fault and being legally at fault. New York auto accident law is complex. Don’t make assumptions about your degree of legal fault. Talk to an Albany car accident lawyer instead.
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer After a Car Accident?
If the insurance company has made you a settlement offer, you can reasonably assume that the proposed dollar amount has likely been carefully calculated to protect their interests, not yours. That is because the insurance company does not represent you, it is not acting in your best interests, and as we have said above, it exists to save and thus make money.
Generally speaking, once you accept a settlement from an insurance company, and “sign on the dotted line” you are forever prohibited from claiming more money for the same accident. Quite literally, you are signing away your rights. This is precisely why insurance companies make early settlement offers — they want to “buy” the victim’s ability to demand more money.
Too many people have taken an early settlement offer only to later learn that the medical bills are far higher than expected, or to suffer an unexpected complication with their injuries that requires further costly treatment. For example a knee injury that appeared to be simple bruise and swelling turns out to require surgery.
You should never accept an insurance company’s offer without talking to an experienced attorney first.
The right Albany car accident lawyer will work to persuade the insurance company that providing you with full and fair compensation is in the insurer’s own interest.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Patrick J. Higgins believes that your financial situation should never keep you from getting justice. We established our law firm with that principle in mind.
At The Law Offices of Patrick J. Higgins, PLLC, we represent auto accident victims on a contingency fee basis.
This means we don’t charge a fee unless we get you money. If we do succeed in getting you compensation, our fee will only be a percentage of your total recovery. If for some reason we do not succeed, you will not have to pay us one penny. We take the risk of loss so that you don’t have to.
We are also able to advance the costs of investigation and litigation in most cases. And your initial consultation is always free.
In other words, hiring an Albany car accident lawyer from our firm won’t cost you anything up front or out of pocket. There’s nothing to lose.
Benefits of Hiring Patrick J. Higgins to Handle My Albany Car Accident Claim
Patrick J. Higgins founded our law firm after spending 32 years working in a variety of other law firm settings. He wanted to open a law firm with a different type of business model: The Law Offices of Patrick J. Higgins, PLLC focuses on taking fewer cases and spending more time on each of those cases, really focusing on positioning each case toward optimal success to the best of our ability and getting to know each client individually.
When you hire The Law Offices of Patrick J. Higgins, PLLC, you will work directly with Mr. Higgins. He has a capable staff that will assist him, but you will deal with him directly. He’ll respond to your emails in a timely manner, and he’ll answer the phone when you call. He’ll even come to your house if you’d like, meeting with you where you’re comfortable and getting to know your situation on a personal level.
What we offer is deep legal experience, coupled with the type of personal attention and individual passion that might not always be possible in larger law firm settings.
When you hire Patrick J. Higgins, you’re putting decades of legal experience and a proven track record on your side.
Free Consultation with Patrick J. Higgins, Experienced Albany Auto Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an Albany auto accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation under New York personal injury law.
Don’t face the insurance companies on your own, and don’t settle for less than you deserve. Instead, drop us a line and learn more about your rights and options. We’re here to listen and to help. We have substantial materials that we can discuss with you, or simply send you to review to help you understand the legal and compensation that most people never intended to be part of.
In fact, if you’ve suffered damages after a car accident, you can schedule a free legal consultation with Patrick J. Higgins directly — and with no obligations whatsoever. It’s your chance to discuss your situation confidentially with an experienced professional.
To get started, call 518-489-1098 and ask for a consultation with an Albany car accident lawyer, or simply contact us directly online. Time limits do apply to auto accident claims in New York, so please don’t delay.