For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC at (845) 986-2777 for an initial consultation and case evaluation.
The most important step immediately following a car accident is to determine fault. If you are in a car accident that is not your fault, most people carry insurance for injuries to parties. This insurance can cover immediate costs, such as hospital visits and long term costs such as ongoing physical therapy and injury treatment. Even if you are at fault, check with your own insurance company, and often, unless you were deliberately destructive, your insurance will cover at least some portion of your treatment costs.
New York No Fault Insurance
New York is one of twelve states that have enacted No-Fault insurance law in order to protect individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents. No-Fault law removes, in part, the evaluation of each party’s fault in the causation of the accident and requires that insurance company pay up to $50,000 for legitimate economic losses related to the accident. Covered damages include, among other things, expenses for medical care and lost earnings. One major exclusion from coverage under New York No Fault laws is damages for alleged pain and suffering. This requires an injured party to commence a separate bodily injury claim, which is evaluated under distinctly separate laws.
In order to qualify for No-Fault insurance payouts, certain conditions must be met. First, the accident must have occurred in New York. Second, the injured party seeking compensation must be the driver or passenger of the insured vehicle, or a cyclist or a pedestrian that came in contact with the vehicle involved in the collision.
Drivers that are not qualified for No-Fault coverage include operators of motorcycles, vespas and certain scooters, intoxicated drivers and driver’s covered by some out of state insurance policies. Third, the vehicle must be registered in the state of New York. Finally, the motor vehicle is insured by a policy sold in New York or sold by a company authorized to do business in the state of New York.
Rear End Accidents / Fender Benders
Rear end automobile accidents or “fender benders” are usually the result of someone else’s negligence. This kind of accident occurs when the front of one car hits the back of another. Distracted drivers that are texting, talking on the phone, or simply not paying attention while driving are usually those involved in this kind of accident.
In most rear-end car accidents, there is a sudden jolt as the vehicles collide. The occupants of the front car, which is often stopped or moving at slow speed, may be thrown forward against their seat belts. Their heads, however, are often not as quick to move forward, resulting instead in a sharp backward motion of the head followed by a bounce forward. Under such conditions, it is not uncommon for a person to suffer whiplash, which can lead to long-term pain and complications.
Whiplash is a relatively common neck injury that occurs as the result of a sudden acceleration-deceleration force that causes a person’s head to jerk forward and backward quickly. Medical professionals consider whiplash a type of neck strain that is caused by damage to the muscles and tendons, but many people use the term “whiplash” in reference to structural bone damage as well. Pain is the primary symptom of whiplash, but others include:
- Decreased range of motion or neck tightness;
- Pain while moving the head side to side or forward and backward;
- Discomfort and stiffness when rotating the head toward each shoulder; and
- Headaches that start of the base of the skull and radiate up and forward.
Other symptoms such as dizziness, trouble concentrating or talking, nausea, or sleepiness may be signs of a concussion.
If you were recently involved in a car accident and you feel pain when you move your head, you should see a doctor. Your doctor may take x-rays or CT scans to rule out other concerns, but it is important to have your injuries documented in case you need to file a personal injury claim. Depending on the severity of your whiplash, the doctor may recommend over-the-counter painkillers or stronger prescription medication. Your doctor may also recommend stretching and strengthening exercises.
There are other types of injuries involved in a rear end automobile accident, including internal bleeding or bruising, fractured bones, concussions and brain injuries. These injuries can result in hospital and medical bills, unexpected time off from work, emotional distress and more.
Neurological Damage – Neurological damage can take many forms from immediate concussions and short term memory loss, to long term inability to focus or problems with sensory or motor function. If you suspect any neurological damage, such as Traumatic Brain Injury, it is advised you immediately seek out medical help as this may be a sign of long term damage. If you have been cleared by a doctor and are still experiencing long term mental effects from the experience, you can look into mental therapy, and while working around your disabilities and increase your quality of life.
Nerve Damage – This can take the form of minor ongoing pain (extremely common) to full or partial disability. In the case of minor nerve damage, a physical therapist can teach you techniques to work through the pain. It may also become necessary to find a career or boss who lets you work around your disability. Many modern bosses are extremely accommodating and are happy to have a motivated employee even with limitations. Paralysis and disability are more severe and may require changes in how you live. In this case, physical therapy will be used to increase use in disabled parts. You need to also evaluate how your house and living situation is set up and work with friends, coworkers, and your therapist to set up a living style more amenable to your disability. While returning to work may be a possibility, it might not be possible. In this case the government has disability set up, whereby they will provide you with money and insurance to cover your living expenses. Note, this process is heavily policed, and commission of fraud is a federal offense, so only use it in the case of real disability.
Physical Injury Analysis – These can be short term, from broken or dislocated limbs, to medium term, from torn ligaments to damage joins, to permanent from torn tendons to extremely damaged bones. These injuries will often involve the long slow process of physical therapy. While this might seem like a slow process that is not leading anywhere, the changes are often subtle and slow and it is usually worth it. These injuries might require stepping back your activities in the short term while you recover, to living a little more slower life, and performing exercises to keep yourself healthy in the long term. It is important to remember, physical activity is always a good thing and keeping your weight under control and walking regularly, unless your doctor specifically forbids it, will always help you recover. Car accidents can be scary but much of the damage can be fixed with time and people live with many disabilities. Reach out to your friends, family, and the social safety nets to help you recover in this vulnerable time.
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If you or a family member have suffered a traffic accident or injury, whether as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you and/or your family member may be entitled to money damages.
We take your calls and meet with your family personally to answer all your questions. We will press your insurance company for the coverage you are entitled to and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Personal injury cases require a wealth of experience, and a network of proven experts, including doctors and medical experts, accident recreation experts, insurance investigators, private investigators, and the resources necessary to fight large insurance companies.
All of our personal injury cases are contingency cases, which means you pay nothing out of pocket and we do not get paid unless you get paid.