Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions | Auto Crash FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to retain a lawyer for my case?
If you have been injured, your case may involve a number of complex – and frequently confusing – issues, beginning with the availability and amount of your insurance coverage. It’s also important to weigh the issues and determine your likelihood of success in pursuing a claim. If you have been injured, you should consult with an attorney to review the issues that are relevant to your case. After the consultation, you’ll be in a position to best determine if you need to retain an attorney. Contact Us Today at 1-800-842-8462

Do you handle cases for children?
A sizable amount of Greenstein & Milbauer’s caseload involves claims on behalf of clients under the age of 18 and special rules do govern the prosecution of children’s cases, which even face special statutes of limitations. So whether the case is one for medical negligence, product liability, vehicular negligence, injuries occurring in the birth process, etc., it is important to contact a professional as soon as possible to determine when a child’s statute of limitations expires.

How much will this case cost me to pursue?
For auto accidents, slip and falls and many other forms of personal injury cases, Greenstein & Milbauer’s offices provide free initial consultations to discuss the facts of the case with a savvy personal injury attorney.

If we take the case, we will even advance the costs necessary to investigate and prosecute the claim. In the event we undertake formal representation, any costs advanced are reimbursed to us at the conclusion of the case, assuming we are able to make a recovery on your behalf. We are available to represent clients’ personal injury claims throughout the State of New York. If you have a question concerning your injury, call us toll free at 1-800-842-8462

What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is a legal fee that depends on the successful outcome of a claim. Most attorneys who specialize in bodily injury claims offer contingency fee agreements to personal injury victims because frequently these clients can’t afford to pay an attorney on an hourly basis. If there is no recovery, Milbauer & Greenstein, LLP receives no fee.

How much will I recover from a settlement or judgment?
This is a challenging question for any legal authority, because there’s no standardized formula or method for evaluating the likely settlement value or jury verdict potential in a specific case. Factors include the nature of liability, nature and extent of injuries or the type and extend of a permanent disability.  Economic losses – including medical bills and lost wages – also come into consideration. While our professionals can provide estimations based upon settlements of similar cases, no precise method exists for predicting how much an injured individual will recover in any given case.

What can I do to be of assistance to my attorney?
Your top priority is to be honest in dealing with your lawyer. Never withhold information. Once he or she is aware of them, your attorney should be able to handle most problems. It’s also important that you make and keep all medical appointments, and always follow your attorney’s advice throughout the process.

How long will my case last?
There are no guidelines in determining how long it will take to conclude a case. However, the good news for many victims is that the majority of personal injury cases are settled without the necessity of litigation. Many variables impact the time this legal process takes, including the type of injury or injuries you’ve sustained, the medical treatment you require, and whether the case can be settled or requires a jury trial.

Will my case go to trial?
The majority of claims handled by our office settle before trial. However, if a reasonable and fair settlement cannot be reached, we are prepared to take the matter to trial if it’s in the best interest of our client.

If I am injured, how long do I have to make a claim?
The amount of time you have to file a claim usually depends on the circumstances of the accident. However, in New York, you generally have three years to file a lawsuit for negligence claims. These include – but are certainly not limited to – car and other types of vehicular accidents, as well as slip and fall cases. An important point: If the responsible party involves a municipality, you may be required to file notice of a claim within a shorter period of time following the date of the incident. So contact an attorney as soon as possible after you have been injured. The earlier you reach out, the easier the process for investigating the situation and the easier it is to protect your legal rights.

What happens if I wait too long to make a claim for my injuries?
If a lawsuit has not initiated within the time required, you will lose your rights to make a claim for compensation for your injuries.

If I suffer an injury, what’s the first thing I should do?
Your health is always the top priority. So seek medical attention first! At the accident scene, a police officer may ask you if you want an ambulance to take you to a local hospital. Once your condition has been stabilized, you should contact an attorney to investigate your claim.

Can I recover money for pain and suffering?
The short answer is “Yes,” in many instances you CAN recover money for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries in an accident, and, if the accident leaves you permanently injured, or disfigured, you may be able to obtain additional compensation.

Can I bring a case if I do not have Social Security number?
Yes. Do not be afraid to purse your case. You have the right to be compensated for your injuries, and to receive medical treatment, even if you do have a valid United States Social Security number. This is especially true for people hurt while performing construction work.

How does Greenstein & Milbauer handle accident cases?
A rock-solid team – headed by an experienced personal injury attorney – handles every case we take. Your team may include paralegals, legal secretaries, investigators, experts or even several attorneys. We are always available to assist clients, even scheduling consultations and appointments on nights and weekends.

Can you usually tell if I have a claim after my first visit?
Often we can. However, knowledge and preparation are the keys to evaluating any case and this almost always requires investigation of the facts and circumstances involved in your accident. That’s an ongoing process.

What information must I provide?
Our short answer is almost always: “The more information you can provide, the better for you and your case.”  Initially, you should provide us with a complete statement regarding the facts and circumstances of your accident. It should include a list of your injuries and details about your medical treatment. If known, we would like the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved, names/addresses/telephone numbers of drivers/owners/witnesses, name of responding police officers, health care providers and insurance companies. After receiving this information, one of Greenstein & Milbauer’s private investigators may gather additional information, including: statements, photographs, and documents. Only after we have sufficient information will we assess the merits of your case.

What is a disc bulge and what is disc degeneration?
A disc bulge is due to tears in the annulus allowing disc material to enlarge the disc in the form of a bulge, while degeneration refers to a decrease in space between the vertebrae. Which CAN BE part of the natural aging process.

What is a herniated disc?
Although we are certainly not doctors, we do see many of the same injuries. It then becomes necessary for us to be familiar with some basic terminology. Although the doctors will explain the results of an MRI with their patients, quite often the patients do not fully understand the nature of their injuries and we believe it is essential that our clients have a complete understanding of their injuries. A herniated disc is due to tears in the annulus (the outer layer of the disc) and is a condition that can only be detected on MRIs, not on X-rays. When herniation occurs, the inner nucleus can herniate out and may cause pressure on an adjacent nerve. If the herniation is found in the neck, it may cause pain that radiates into the shoulder and arm. If the herniation occurs in the back, the pain may radiate down into the hip, groin or leg.

I was rear ended in an accident but did not go to the hospital or doctor. Now my back and neck are killing me. What can I do?
At Greenstein & Milbauer, we hear this question a lot. Too often, someone leaves the scene following an accident believing the “slight” soreness they’re feeling with soon go away. Then, a few hours or a few days later, they realize that the soreness is not going away, it’s getting worse. That’s why we recommend that everyone involved in an accident seek immediate medical attention. However, if you don’t get treated immediately, seek help as quickly as possible after the pain starts to escalate. In either situation, it’s important that you have a physician properly diagnose and treat your injuries. Second, a medical record of your injuries and their relationship to the accident must be established.

What is a no-fault application?
This is simply the form that must be filed with the no-fault carrier within thirty (30) days of the date of your accident in order to be eligible for benefits.

Does New York require liability insurance?
Absolutely, and the minimum policy allowed is $25,000.00/$50,000.00. This means that no one person can collect more than $25,000.00, and there is $50,000.00 available if more than one person is hurt.

How do I find out the name of the other driver ’ s liability insurance carrier?
New York law requires all insurance carriers to divulge this information to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. At Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP we can usually obtain this information within minutes after we begin working on your case.

How do I get my vehicle repaired?
You can have your own insurance company repair your vehicle, subject to your deductible, if you have collision coverage. However, if you don’t have collision coverage or prefer to have the other insurance company pay for your repairs, then Greenstein & Milbauer can assist you in this regard.

I fell on the sidewalk and don’t have medical insurance. Who will pay for my medical bills caused by this accident?
Talk to one of our experienced attorneys. They can seek to recover your medical expenses from the individual, municipality or company at fault in your accident.

What if I was not in an automobile accident but slipped and fell at my grocery or hardware store? And who is responsible for my treatment?
With all slip and fall cases, it’s essential that you notify the store manager and file and incident report. You should obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses, along with the names of the store employees you come in contact with. And if you believe a substance on the floor caused the incident, be sure to properly identify the substance. And, as always, seek immediate medical treatment. In most instances, businesses have insurance for medical payments in their property insurance policy. At the time you report the accident to the manager, ask for information in this regard.

What if I was hurt at work?
Whenever a person is hurt at work they are automatically entitled to the benefits of worker’s compensation insurance. Greenstein & Milbauer DOES NOT handle worker’s compensation claims, but can usually provide the names of certified specialists in your community.

If I have a case, will I be guaranteed a recovery?
The American judicial system is the best in the world, but it’s not perfect. So there is always the risk that your case will result in no recovery Judges or juries can make mistakes, errors, incorrect decisions, or simply differ with your interpretation or opinion regarding the law, evidence, facts, circumstances, or other aspects of your case.

I hear the term frequently, but what exactly is Liability?
The term “Liability” means that someone is legally responsible for your injuries. A professional assessment of possible legal defenses such as comparative negligence and assumption of risk must be made of all available facts as it relates to applicable laws. Up until the point at which a case is resolved, and as an investigation continues, liability evaluation is a continuing process.

What are damages?
As a legal term, “Damages” refers to injuries to your person or your property (car, motorcycle, home, etc.), and may include actual and projected medical charges, loss earnings, psychological injury, permanent disability, economic loss, and pain and suffering.

Why shouldn’t I simply trust an insurance company to make a fair claim?
Simply put, insurance companies are businesses that depend on their bottom line, and settlements made to personal injury victims directly impact that bottom line. So the core interests of insurance companies are at odds with those of accident victims and in an accident case, the defendant’s insurance company will diligently work to minimize your claim.

What should I do about my injuries?
Give careful attention to your injuries because you may not initially appreciate their severity. You may fully recover, suffer ongoing impaired mobility or be permanently disabled. Do what is required to reach maximum medical improvement and follow your doctors’ instructions, while always keeping your physician appraised of your pain, discomfort, symptoms, and physical limitations.

What is the value of my case?
Throughout all stages of your case, we work to project what would be a fair settlement. Our team always works hard to get the best possible settlement for you. Our experienced staff knows that the optimum value of any case depends on sound preparation and information. Once we complete our investigation, we can better estimate the possible extent of the defendant’s liability.

What is a mediation?
Mediation is an alternative – and often a highly effective alternative – to litigation. During mediation, both sides argue their case to an independent mediator, usually a retired judge. After hearing all the testimony, the mediator renders a decision taking into account how the accident occurred, and the injuries sustained. This decision would determine the amount, if any, of compensation that you are entitled to. One important point: neither side is bound by the mediator’s decision.

What is an arbitration?
Another alternative to litigation is an arbitration, in which both sides would argue their case to an independent arbitrator, usually a retired judge. After hearing all the testimony, the arbitrator renders a decision taking into account how the accident occurred, and the injuries sustained. This decision would determine the amount, if any, of compensation that you are entitled to. The greatest difference between mediation and arbitration is that once the arbitrator makes his or her decision, both sides ARE bound by the decision.

What is the process of negotiating with the insurance company?
After you have completed your medical treatment and we know the extent of your injuries, Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP will attempt to reach a negotiated settlement. Usually, this involves discussions with insurance adjusters. We begin this by sending them your medical bills, lost wages and the reports from doctors. We will give them several weeks to review our submission and await their response. This process may or may not be productive. The success of this procedure varies with each case and the insurance company involved.

Typically, how long will it take to resolve my claim?
The duration of your case depends largely on the nature and course of your medical treatment. We will not settle your case until we are reasonably certain of the full nature and extent of your medical condition. Once this becomes apparent, we will attempt to negotiate your claim. If negotiations are unproductive, we will pursue litigation. In either case, our goal is to obtain the best results consistent with the merits of your case.

Should I keep any records?
You should always keep your medical records and we recommend developing a system for recording the expenses incurred with your claim. Medical expenses are a significant part of your lawsuit, so it is important that you keep good records.

Is there a statute of limitations on automobile accidents? New York law provides for various statutes of limitations in regard to automobile accidents. In most cases you must bring suit against the negligent party within three (3) years from the date of the accident. However, different statutes of limitation govern different types of cases. Under some circumstances, statutes of limitations for children are longer than those for adults.

What happens if I miss time from work as a result of a motor vehicle accident?
Your doctor, your employer and you must decide how long you stayed out of work because of your injuries. However, for you to be compensated for your lost earnings, we must obtain written evidence from your employer of how much time you lost from your work, what your job was, and how much you were earning at the time of the accident.

The other person’s insurance company has contacted me, should I give a statement?
The short answer is “no.” One should never give a statement to an insurance company without the advice of an attorney and you do not have an innate duty to cooperate with the other driver’s insurance company.

You should tell the insurance company to contact your attorney. Your attorney will decide if a statement is necessary, and make arrangements accordingly. Greenstein & Milbauer stresses that you should not, under any circumstance, provide the other insurance company with a statement.

If the insurance company tries to contact you after you’ve sought representation with Greenstein & Milbauer or other personal injury attorneys, you can inform the representative contacting you that you are represented and this will require that all further contact be through your attorney.

I have insurance. Do I have to talk to my own insurance company following an accident? Under most insurance policies issued in New York, there is a duty to provide notice of an accident to your insurance company “as soon as practicable” after the accident. If you do not provide your insurance company with notice, you risk having your insurance company deny coverage to you for the accident as a result of your failure to provide them with timely notice. However, your attorney can provide your insurance company with notice of the accident, and your attorney will make the necessary arrangements if your insurance company wants a statement.

What qualifies as a serious injury in the State of New York?
New York State Insurance Law defines a serious injury as: death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member, or significant limitation of use of a body function or system. This section of the statute is important to understand: A serious injury is defined as a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitutes such person’s usual and customary daily activities not less than ninety (90) days during the hundred and eighty (180) days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

A driver who had no insurance at the time of the accident hit me. Can I still obtain compensation for my injuries?
Yes you can! Surprisingly, although New York does have specific mandatory auto insurance requirements, many vehicles still do not carry the required liability insurance. Uninsured motorist protection covers victims of those drivers. This is insurance coverage that is provided to protect you in instances where another individual who has failed to purchase liability insurance injures you. Also, you may be able to recover under the insurance policy of the vehicle you occupied, whether you were the driver, owner or passenger. These statutes can get confusing. At Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP our attorneys are well versed with the special requirements of the uninsured motorist law.

I was recently injured in an automobile accident by an unidentified car that left the scene. Can I make a claim for my injuries?
Yes. Whether you were the driver, owner or passenger, under New York law you may be able to make a claim under the insurance policy of the vehicle you occupied. If this type claim is being made under your own policy it should not result in an increase in your premium, or a cancellation of your coverage.

A driver whose insurance coverage was not adequate to compensate me for my injuries hit me from behind. Will my own insurance company fill in the gaps?
Although New York has mandatory auto insurance requirements, many vehicles only have limited coverage. So in many cases the under-insured negligent party won’t have the liability coverage to compensate you for your injuries. However, you may be able to recover under the insurance policy of the vehicle you occupied, whether you were the driver, owner or passenger.

If my car was damaged, do I need to obtain a property damage estimate?
If your car was damaged in the accident, please bring (or mail) to the office a written, itemized estimate of the cost of repair to your car.

My car was totaled in the accident and probably will be destroyed. Should I take pictures of the damage before it is destroyed?
Yes, always take photos and be thorough, taking shots from every angle, including the interior and under the hood. Also, be sure your injuries are properly documented with photos. All of this visual documentation may be helpful or even necessary to resolve your property damage and bodily injury claims.

How can you maximize the insurance coverage available?
Greenstein & Milbauer conducts an extensive investigation to maximize your coverage. Some of the questions we investigate are: Was the car leased or rented? Does someone besides the driver OWN THE CAR? If yes, does the driver own a car? Was the driver working at the time of the accident and does he or she have any assets? Is there any supplemental insurance coverage available through a motor vehicle policy in the client’s household? These are just a few of the issues we investigate.

What is a 50-H hearing and when is it required?
A 50-H hearing is a statutory right granted to most municipalities to aid them in their investigation and is required in most cases against municipalities. The purpose of this hearing is not to dispute that your accident happened or how it happened, but to give the municipality the chance to learn from you the basic facts of your accident. The questions presented are very simple and the whole hearing usually takes less than an hour. Sample questions usually include: name, address; name of children; date of birth and Social Security number; date and location of accident; describe accident; whether police and ambulance came to scene; name of hospital who treated you; name of the private doctor/nurses who treated you; activities you cannot perform due to your injury; the amount of time you spent in bed or home, and whether your medical bills were paid and who paid them, as well as the amount of money you had to spend because of accident.

If my case goes to trial, how will it be scheduled?
After discovery is completed, a request will be made to set your case for trial, with the court and attorneys working to agree on a specific date. First, the court will decide which dates are available and then attorneys will check their calendars for conflicting dates. The process can seem interminable, but remember that courts are responsible for thousands of cases. The court generally schedules more than one case on a given date, assuming that SOME of the cases scheduled for that date will be settled before trial, opening up that date for other cases to be tried. Experience shows that this method creates the least amount of inconvenience.

Is there any way to get a quicker trial date?
A plaintiff can get a quicker trial date when certain circumstances are met, specifically when it’s shown that the interests of justice will be served by an early trial. For example, if the plaintiff has reached the age of 70 or is terminally ill as a result of the negligence of the defendant.

Once I begin working with Greenstein & Milbauer, how often should I stay in contact with you?
We encourage you to call us any time you have a question or need assistance – at minimum, once per month. Please keep us informed of your health status, and of any matter relating to your case.

What if I have a question that wasn’t covered in the FAQs? Our attorneys are available to answer questions over the phone or through email. However, the best way to find out about a particular case is to arrange for a free appointment. Please telephone us at  1-800-842-8462 (1-800-Victim2)