FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I have a car accident?

If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, stop, take a breath and try to calm down. Briefly, follow the following steps:

  • Stop the car;
  • If you or anyone else appears injured, immediately call 911 for medical and police assistance;
  • Make sure any injured person is as comfortable as possible and is kept warm without moving them yourself;
  • If able to do so, exchange license and insurance information with everyone involved in the accident;
  • If possible, make an effort to prevent further accidents and to protect the accident scene by not leaving a drivable vehicle in a position of danger. Occupants should not remain in such a vehicle if they are unharmed and can move about freely. Remember to have someone warn approaching traffic until the police arrive; and
  • Take photos of the accident scene, location of the vehicles, license plates and car damage;
  • If there are any witnesses, try to get their names.

After the accident scene is cleared and you take care of any injuries, there are several procedural steps you need to take to protect yourself and be in a position to proceed with the recovery of expenses and for any injuries and damage you suffer:

  • Report the accident to your own automobile insurance company;
  • If you are injured, immediately obtain a No-Fault claim application from your own automobile insurance company. New York State No-Fault claims must be filed within 30 days of the accident.
  • All medical bills must be submitted to your insurance company within 45 days of the medical service provided and any claims for lost wages must be submitted within 90 days.
  • If you are a passenger in a vehicle, you should submit your claim to the insurance company of the owner/driver of the vehicle.
  • File an Accident Report with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident if a person is injured or killed, or there is property damage that exceeds $1000.

If you have sustained an injury and need assistance with any or all of the above, our law firm offers to our clients such assistance at no cost.

How do I choose a personal injury attorney?

Being involved in a legal matter and hiring an attorney to help you is a very “personal” experience. There are a few steps you should take into account when making the critical decision to hire a the right personal injury attorney:

  • Do not be lazy and only rely on television and radio ads. Do your own research. Ask your family and friends who have had actual experiences with personal injury attorneys. Get the names of a few attorneys.

 

  • If you are not able to get referrals, read the websites and Facebook pages of a few firms. Read the attorney profiles. Get a real feel for the firm, since you will likely be spending several years with them.

 

  • Contact your chosen law firm/attorney as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to determine your legal rights before critical evidence disappears. Make sure you speak with an attorney and your appointment is made to meet with an attorney. Do not accept an appointment with a paralegal, legal assistant or intake clerk. Only an attorney can give legal advice.

 

  • When you make the appointment, ask and be assured that the specific attorney you are scheduled to meet with will be the attorney personally involved with your case until it is resolved. A large part of your experience with an attorney derives from your relationship, so chemistry and continuity is very important.

 

  • Discuss the fee arrangement. Under New York law, you now have the right to choose different fee arrangements. Ask about the anticipated costs and disbursements and how they are to be advanced and reimbursed.  Be sure to find out that in the event there is no recovery whether you are responsible to reimburse the law firm for their out- of-pocket expenses. Some law firms require the repayment of these expenses, while others do not.

 

  • Read your retainer agreement carefully before signing. You should be cautious of signing any written retainer agreement that provides that in the event you change attorneys you are obligated to pay specific itemized sums of money for the legal services rendered by that law firm up to the time of discharge.

 

  • If you have any hesitation about hiring the attorney you meet with, do not be pressured into signing the agreement. Simply advise the attorney that you need to think about it and promptly look elsewhere, as there are time limitations with pursuing personal injury matters.

It is also important to know that after you have retained a personal injury attorney, you have the right to discharge that attorney and retain another attorney in place of the original attorney if you are unhappy with your representation, even after the claim is put into suit. If you decide to change attorneys, the new attorney should reimburse the outgoing attorneys for their out-of-pocket expenses to obtain the release of your file.

If you change attorneys and a recovery is obtained for you, there is no additional cost to you for having changed attorneys. Your prior and current attorneys are required to apportion the attorneys fees between the law firms.  The amount you recover remains the same.

What will you do for me if I retain your law firm?

If you hire our law firm, we contact your doctor, employer and hospital, as applicable, to obtain records of your treatment, employment history and any lost wages. At the same time, we investigate your accident by contacting the police, if they were involved at the time of the accident, any witnesses to the accident and other sources of possible information. We will obtain your insurance information to ascertain your insurance coverage and, if necessary, contact them to protect your legal rights.

Depending on the type of accident in which you are involved, we also obtain photographs of the accident scene, damage to the vehicles, the condition of any products or equipment involved and the injuries suffered. If your accident involves a motor vehicle, we will help you obtain and file your no-fault claim application and submit your hospital and medical bills and lost wage claim documentation. We will additionally help you prepare the written accident report that must be filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles, if you haven’t already done so.

We then contact the defendant and/or the defendant’s insurance company, if we know which insurance company is involved, to let them know that we represent you. We provide the insurance company with your hospital and medical records and salary and attendance records, if lost wages are claimed, as well as other information concerning your legal claims against their insured.

Our initial efforts are always aimed towards settling your case with the defendant’s insurance company without litigation. We afford the insurance company a reasonable period of time to gather the necessary verification of your injuries from the doctors and employers, and to perform their own investigation of the accident. Unfortunately, many insurance companies take an excessive amount of time in which to perform their investigation and refuse to offer fair and reasonable compensation for the injuries, damages and losses suffered.

If the insurance company fails to timely respond or advises us that they disagree with either who was at fault for the accident or the amount of money necessary to compensate you for your injuries, we may be unable to settle your case without taking further steps. This does not mean that the case will have to be tried before a jury; it merely means that a fair settlement could not be reached prior to litigation. Although we may have to commence a lawsuit against the person(s) and/or entity responsible for your injuries to get the appropriate attention from the insurance company, the majority of cases do get settled at some point before trial.

Our goal is to handle the litigation process as quickly and efficiently as possible and keep you advised every step of the way. We are accessible to answer any questions and discuss concerns throughout what can be a confusing and lengthy process.

What should I expect in a personal injury lawsuit?

If the insurance company fails to timely respond or advises us that they disagree with either who was at fault for the accident or the amount of money necessary to compensate you for your injuries, we may be unable to settle your case without taking further steps. This does not mean that the case will have to be tried before a jury; it merely means that a fair settlement could not be reached prior to litigation. Although we may have to commence a lawsuit against the person(s) and/or entity responsible for your injuries to get the appropriate attention from the insurance company, the majority of cases do get settled at some point before trial.

In order to commence a lawsuit, we prepare a summons and complaint that is filed with the appropriate court and served upon the defendant. A summons is a legal document that notifies the defendant that someone is making a legal claim against them. The complaint sets out in general terms the legal basis for your claim, how, where and when the accident happened, who was involved and what are your claimed injuries.

The attorney for the defendant’s insurance company then responds to the complaint by serving an answer, which may admit that the accident happened, but usually denies that it was the defendant’s fault. At the same time, the defense attorney serves a demand for us to provide detailed information indicating how the accident happened, the extent of your injuries and damages and our theory of liability. In addition, they will serve demands to obtain documents and notices to take your testimony, as it is our burden of proof to present evidence to support claims against the parties claimed to be negligent.

The defendant’s lawyer and/or his insurance company will usually then have you examined by one or more physicians. After performing the exam, the doctor will write a report and testify, if required, for the defense.

We will then similarly seek documents and testimony from the defendant in an effort to elicit further evidence to support your claim.

After all of the permissible documents are exchanged and depositions and physical examinations are held, your case will be placed on the court calendar. After that happens, the court usually schedules several conferences with all of the attorneys in an effort to determine what, if anything, further needs to be done and whether or not the case can be settled prior to trial. Sometimes, the court will urge that the parties consider arbitration in lieu of proceeding to trial, as it can expedite the resolution of a case, as well as reduce the ultimate cost of a full jury trial.

If it becomes necessary to try your case, it may take a year or more from the time it is placed on the trial calendar until the court is available to hear the case. Fortunately, most cases are settled before trial or at the time of trial. Please understand that even if we wanted to do so, the court will not permit us to place the case on the trial calendar until the depositions are completed and all other discovery is finished.

How long does a lawsuit take?

How long it will take to resolve your case depends on various factors, such as how clear liability is as to the accident itself, the extent of your injuries, the degree of support provided by your physicians that the accident caused your injuries, whether the insurance company questions who was at fault in the accident, which insurance company is involved, which attorney was hired by the insurance company and many other factors.

Please be assured that we are extremely thorough in the way we investigate and handle your case. We make every effort to proceed carefully and with great attention to detail, obtaining the necessary evidence and documents to support your case, even though we hope to be able to settle it well in advance of trial. We do this so we will be ready to proceed to trial, if necessary, should the involved insurance company act in an unreasonable way.

This process takes place in all of the personal injury cases we handle at our law firm so we are used to the delays and tactics of the insurance companies and defense counsel. We realize, however, that for you, our client, the process may appear confusing and protracted. That is why we are here for you every step of the way, to answer your questions, ease your mind and explain as often as necessary what you can expect. We understand and share your desire to resolve the case promptly, for the greatest amount possible, to fairly and fully compensate you for your injuries.