If you are injured in a car accident, the road to financial recovery will vary from case to case. Every accident arises from a unique set of facts. For this reason, it is important to contact an experienced attorney right away. The reason is simple - if you navigate in unfamiliar waters, you are bound to make a mistake.
An injured person is always eager to tell his or her side of the story to everyone, including an insurance representative. In doing so, the person believes he or she is helping to advance the claim. In reality, however, this person is doing just the opposite; he or she is providing the insurance company with facts necessary for the insurance company to diminish or deny a strong claim. By simply calling or emailing an attorney for a free consultation, you will avoid pitfalls. Otherwise, you are virtually certain to overlook factors that will ultimately leave you with unpaid medical bills, uncompensated wages and a diminished compensation for damages.
Our firm has handled hundredth of car accident cases. Over the years, we have developed in-depth knowledge of the applicable law and the claim process. Generally, the laws are designed to protect victims of motor vehicle negligence. These laws, of course, have to be applied properly in order to achieve the maximum benefit from their protections. Here are a few examples of frequently asked questions we encounter in our day-to-day practice:
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicyclist accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Intersection collisions
- Truck accidents
- Failure to obey a stop-sign
- Multi-car collisions
In New York, all medical bills will be submitted to the insurance company for the car you occupied at the time of the accident. So, for example, if you are in an accident while riding in your friend’s car, his or her car insurance will be billed for your medical treatment. That rule applies even if your friend is not at fault for the accident. For pedestrians or bicyclists, your medical bills will be submitted to the insurance company of the vehicle that struck you. In New Jersey, by contrast, all medical bills for passengers, pedestrian or bicyclists have to be submitted to the injured person’s household car insurance. While your own vehicle was not involved in the accident, your own car insurance policy carries the primary responsibility for medical bills. Thus, in the above example, if the accident occurred in New Jersey, your friend’s medical bills will be submitted to the insurance company for the vehicle you both occupied. However, your medical treatment is billed to the insurance company of the car you own. Only if no one in your household owns a vehicle, then the bills are submitted to the insurance company of the vehicle you occupied at the time of the accident.
The short answer is: yes. Every car insurance policy has an “uninsured/underinsured motorist” provision. That is to say, your own auto insurance protects you if the other car did not have insurance or fled the scene. Under the law, as an injured party, you can actually apply to your own insurance for coverage on behalf of the other vehicle. Moreover, this provision affords coverage even if your own car was not involved in the hit-and-run accident. For example, if you are struck by a hit-and-run driver while out on a morning jog, you can still apply to your own auto insurance for coverage. Generally, your policy will provide coverage to everyone in your household. The law also protects those who do not have a vehicle in their household. If you are injured by a hit-and-run or an uninsured driver, you can apply for coverage to the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (or “MVAIC”). MVAIC was created in 1958 under Article 52 of the New York Insurance Law. It is a non-for-profit organization designed to serve as a “last resort” remedy for those who do not have their own auto insurance to protect them from a hit-and-run or an uninsured driver. Basically, MVAIC is funded by all insurance companies authorized to conduct business in the state. Under the law, all insurance companies who wish to do business in New York are required to make a contribution to the MVAIC fund.
Generally, the police accident report is not a deciding factor in the outcome of a case. Yes, the notes made by the police at the scene are important. However, unless the responding officer has actually witnessed the accident, his or her notes are based on statements of others. The officer is required to summarize each party’s version of what happened and to record all visual observations at the scene. The police officers are not qualified to make conclusions of law. That is a job of an experienced personal injury attorney. In sum, do not be deterred from pursuing a case because you believe the police report is not in your favor.