I was injured in a car accident. How long do I have to bring a claim?
After a car accident, there is a lot to worry about. Whether you were out for a joy ride, on the job, or driving home after a long day of work, your ordinary routine is suddenly disrupted. The fender is bent, your neck hurts, and you don’t know what to do. The small, trivial concerns that once occupied your mind are now replaced with a big question mark: How will this car accident affect me?
If you sustained personal injuries in the crash, there is no question that the car accident will affect your life. The only question is the extent to which it will be affected.
Even though you may be reeling from the physical and emotional trauma associated with being a victim in a car crash, there is not a whole lot of time for reflection. You will likely need to take prompt action to ensure that you receive critical medical treatment and can pay your bills if you miss time from work. Time deadlines loom, and a car accident lawyer can help you identify and meet those deadlines.
New York is a no-fault car insurance state, which means that at least some of your medical bills and lost wages will be paid by the no-fault car insurance company, whose identity will depend on the particular facts of your case. If you were a pedestrian at the time of the car accident, the primary no-fault car insurance company will be the carrier insuring the vehicle that struck you. If you were a driver or passenger, the primary carrier will be the insurer for the vehicle you were in. Just because one no-fault car insurance company is primary does not mean that other carriers cannot be secondary, meaning they may help pay for things the primary carrier did not.
Generally speaking, the no-fault car insurance companies must receive written notice of claim on a prescribed notice within 30 days of the car accident. This is a very important time deadline because if it is missed, the no-fault car insurance companies can refuse to pay for medical treatment and lost wages that they are contractually obligated to pay.
An experienced car accident attorney can identify the applicable no-fault car insurance companies and ensure they are put on notice, as required by law.
Uninsured Motorist/Supplementary Underinsured Motorist
Because some drivers do not have car insurance, all of our car insurance policies contain a coverage known as uninsured motorist (UM) or supplementary underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage. The purpose of this coverage is to act as a safety net, providing innocent victims a source of recovery in the event that the person who caused the injuries does not have sufficient coverage or assets to cover the damages. SUM coverage can provide a benefit where the at-fault motorist has car insurance, but it is not enough to cover the damages. Basically, the victim asks his or her own car insurance company to pay for what the at-fault motorist could not through the UM or SUM coverage.
UM and SUM coverage can make the difference between the injured victim receiving a financial recovery and receiving nothing. The car insurance company offering the coverage only has an obligation to pay if certain requirements are met, and these requirements include a notice requirement. If the car insurance company does not receive notice of certain things, such as the occurrence of the car accident or the filing of a lawsuit, it may have a reason to deny coverage.
An experienced car accident lawyer can identify any and all potential UM/SUM coverage and ensure the insurance companies are put on notice.
Notice of claim
If the at-fault motorist is an employee of a municipality such as a town, city, or county, or any other government agency, you will likely have to serve a notice of claim on the municipality or government agency in a timely manner. This rule includes, but is not limited to, any claim of personal injuries directed toward a public corporation or government agency. Failure to serve a notice of claim within a strict time deadline can result in your claim being extinguished before you even file a lawsuit. The Court of Claims Act has a requirement for claims against the State of New York and its authorities.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you identify whether your claim requires service of a notice of claim and if so, ensure it is timely served in accordance with the law.
Statute of limitations
You have a limited time period to file a lawsuit as a result of your personal injuries. If you wait too long, you will forfeit your right to seek damages in a court of law. Statutes of limitations provide a definite time frame within which your lawsuit must be filed, identifying all responsible parties and asserting all available claims for relief.
The applicable statute of limitations period will depend on the parties at fault and the nature of the claims against those parties. For example, claims against municipalities and government agencies typically have shorter statutes of limitations than claims against private individuals. Likewise, claims based on intentional conduct typically have shorter statutes of limitations versus claims based on negligent conduct.
Hurt in a Car? Call William Mattar.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you identify the applicable statutes of limitation and meet them. The car accident attorneys at William Mattar law offices have experience doing this on behalf of seriously injured people. If you were seriously injured in a car crash, do not hesitate to contact our office at (844) 444-4444. We will make sure to identify and meet the imposing time deadlines you now face.