Westchester Car Accident Lawyer
Representing Injured Victims in Westchester, NY
At Sutton & Smyth, LLP, we understand that being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. If you or someone you love was injured in a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Our Westchester car accident attorneys can help you understand your rights and fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
A car accident occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, object, or even an animal, resulting in damage, injury, or sometimes even death. These accidents can range from minor fender benders to more severe collisions involving multiple vehicles.
Common causes of car accidents include:
- Distracted Driving: This includes activities like texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio while driving.
- Speeding: Driving above the speed limit reduces reaction time and increases the severity of accidents.
- Drunk Driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment and coordination.
- Reckless Driving: This encompasses aggressive maneuvers like tailgating, sudden lane changes, or ignoring traffic signs.
- Weather Conditions: Rain, snow, ice, fog, or other adverse weather can decrease visibility and cause slippery road conditions.
- Running Red Lights/Stop Signs: Ignoring traffic signals and signs can lead to collisions at intersections.
- Fatigue: Driving while tired can reduce alertness and reaction time, leading to accidents.
- Poor Road Conditions: Potholes, uneven surfaces, or lack of proper signage can contribute to accidents.
- Mechanical Failures: Brake failures, tire blowouts, or other vehicle malfunctions can cause accidents.
- Inexperienced Drivers: Lack of experience or knowledge of traffic laws can result in errors leading to accidents.
New York Car Accident Laws
New York operates under a no-fault insurance system, meaning each driver's insurance covers their own injuries and damages, regardless of who caused the accident. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is mandatory, providing benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related costs.
New York requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, including $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 for property damage.
No-fault insurance aims to provide quicker access to medical care and financial support for accident victims. It eliminates the need for lengthy legal battles to determine fault before receiving compensation, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery without the added stress of proving fault in court.
However, while no-fault insurance generally covers most injuries and economic losses, there are certain exceptions where a person injured in a car accident can step outside the no-fault system to sue for additional damages. These exceptions typically involve severe injuries that surpass a certain threshold defined by New York's insurance laws. Serious injuries such as fractures, significant disfigurement, or injuries resulting in disability beyond a specific duration might allow the injured party to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for further compensation.
Lastly, New York also follows a pure comparative fault system. If multiple parties share fault in an accident, each party's compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. However, even a party mostly at fault can still seek compensation, though it will be reduced accordingly.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Westchester
Knowing what to do after a car accident can help you protect your health and your right to recover compensation. Here are some steps to take after a crash:
- Check for injuries: If you are able, check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 immediately.
- Move to safety: If you are able, move your vehicle to the side of the road or a safe location. If you cannot move your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and stay inside until help arrives.
- Call the police: Even if the accident was minor, you should call the police and report the crash. When the police arrive, ask for a copy of the accident report.
- Exchange information: Get the names, contact information, and insurance information of all drivers involved in the crash. You should also get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Document the scene: Take pictures of the accident scene, including any damage to your vehicle and any visible injuries.
- Get medical attention: Even if you do not think you were seriously injured, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries, such as whiplash and traumatic brain injuries, may not be immediately apparent.
- Report the accident to your insurance company: You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. However, you should avoid giving a recorded statement or accepting a settlement offer until you have spoken to an attorney.
- Contact a car accident lawyer: An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the claims process.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
Car accident claims can be complex, and insurance companies are not on your side. That is why it is important to have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. Here are some of the ways a car accident lawyer can help you:
- Investigate the accident: An attorney can investigate the accident and gather evidence to prove liability. This may include reviewing the police report, interviewing witnesses, and working with accident reconstruction experts.
- Handle all communication with the insurance company: An attorney can handle all communication with the insurance company and help you avoid making costly mistakes. They can also negotiate with the insurance company and fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
- File a lawsuit, if necessary: If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, an attorney can file a lawsuit and represent you in court. They can also help you understand your rights and guide you through the litigation process.
- Help you understand your rights: An attorney can help you understand your rights and explain your legal options. They can also help you avoid costly mistakes and fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
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