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How you deal with a car accident from the start can have an impact on your ability to recover maximum compensation for your injuries and other losses.

The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, has assisted people involved in thousands of car accidents on Long Island and across New York City. Below are some of the frequently asked questions about car accidents and general answers to them.

Car Accidents

I was hurt in a car accident and I think the other driver was at fault. What should I do?

One of the first things to do after a car accident is to report it to the police and then to your insurance company. Because New York is a no-fault insurance state, your insurance carrier is required to pay you for your losses no matter who caused the accident. In some cases you may also seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer, particularly if the accident has resulted in permanent injuries, scarring and disfigurement, or the death of a loved one.

An experienced New York car accident lawyer can help you file such a legal claim. Even obtaining an appropriate settlement from your insurance company will be more likely if a car accident attorney represents you.

How can a lawyer help me after a car accident?

A lawyer experienced with traffic accidents and personal injury lawsuits in New York can help you identify and obtain all of the compensation you deserve for the injuries and other losses caused by the accident.

After suffering serious injuries in a car accident, you will likely face expensive medical bills and have a car to repair or replace. If you are away from work to recover, you will lose income. You will likely find that the insurance company wants to pay you less than you deserve.

An attorney can determine and document all of your losses and demonstrate to the insurance company the amount of money you deserve in a settlement. This includes direct losses identifiable from bills, and projections of future costs for ongoing medical needs and lost income from a reduced capacity to work for a living in cases of partial or complete disability. A lawyer can also seek out all sources of insurance and determine whether other parties may be liable for the accident, such as a bar that served an underage patron.

After a thorough investigation of your accident, a lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit and negotiate with insurance companies for the settlement you deserve, or present a strong case on your behalf in court if that is necessary.

It seems like the insurance company is making a good offer, and I have bills now. Why shouldn’t I just take it?

In most cases, an insurance claim for a serious car accident is worth much more that an insurance company offers the accident victim. This is especially true of an initial offer from a car insurance company. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They have an incentive to pay out as little as possible.

Our advice is to at least meet with an experienced car accident attorney before you agree to anything an insurance company offers after a car crash.

One of our attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe can review the circumstances of your accident and any offers you have received, and discuss the options available to you. This is a free meeting for free legal advice with no strings attached.

In the meantime, don’t sign anything from any insurance company. Once you sign those papers, you may be giving up your rights.

What if the other driver in my car crash left the scene of the accident or does not have insurance?

After a car accident that involves an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver, you may be able to seek compensation through your own car insurance. Even when dealing with “your” insurance company, the insurer is first looking out for its own bottom line. You may find it difficult to obtain a settlement for the full amount you deserve.

Instead of going it alone, a car accident lawyer from Cohen & Jaffe can negotiate with the insurer on your behalf to ensure you get a proper settlement.

The driver who hit my car was charged with drunk driving. Can I sue the bar where he was drinking before the accident?

Possibly. If the driver was under the legal drinking age of 21, New York law says anyone who sold the driver alcoholic beverages or helped the driver buy alcohol may be held liable for harm the driver causes that is linked to drinking. This is also true for drivers who are of legal age but were visibly impaired when served alcohol.

This is what’s known as a “dram shop” law.

What can kind of compensation could I obtain through a lawsuit in my car accident case?

People who have been injured by others’ negligence may be eligible for compensatory damages, which include money for:

  • Medical bills (past, current and future).
  • Property damage (to a vehicle, typically).
  • Lost wages.
  • Lost earning capacity and future lost income.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Other losses.

A lawsuit may also seek “punitive damages” if the at-fault driver’s actions equate to gross negligence or reckless disregard for human life. Punitive damages are usually a multiple of the amount awarded as compensatory damages.

Will I have to go to court as part of a car accident lawsuit?

Most car accident claims are settled out of court through negotiations and don’t require the plaintiff to appear in any formal setting. It’s only when an insurance company refuses to provide an acceptable settlement that a case must go to court. Even then, the plaintiff may not need to testify.

The car accident attorneys of the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe work to negotiate fair settlements for our clients so that they can obtain the compensation they need as quickly and with as little burden on them as possible. When an insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, we take all measures to prepare our clients to win in court, standing up for them each step of the way.

How can I afford a lawyer to handle my car accident lawsuit?

You can afford a Cohen & Jaffe lawyer because you pay no legal fees up front for our services. We handle car accidents on a contingency fee basis, which means our fees depend on our – and your – success. You don’t pay us until we obtain money for you. Then our legal fee will be a previously agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or court award you have won.

All of our work for you begins with a legal consultation about your case that we provide at no charge whatsoever and with no obligation. We’re ready to get started as soon as you are.

Call us now or fill out our online contact form for a free claim review.

My car accident was some time ago, but I have only recently come to the point that I cannot pay my medical bills. Is it too late for you to help me?

New York has a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, which means there is a time limit within which you may bring a lawsuit. There are different deadlines for various types of lawsuits.

In most car accident cases, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The statute of limitations is another reason why it is wise to contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as you can after a car crash in New York. Personal injury lawsuits are complicated and can take a long time to develop. It is best to start as soon as possible.

The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, has helped families from Nassau County and elsewhere in the New York City area obtain compensation for birth injuries that have been caused by medical malpractice. Below are some general answers to frequently asked questions about birth injuries.

Birth Injuries

What are some common birth injuries?

Common birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability among children.
  • Brachial plexus injury (Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy), which is caused by trauma to a group of nerves in the shoulder. It may result in loss of function in the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
  • Profound brain injury.
  • Compromised function of the lungs, vision or other organs and systems.
  • Stillbirth or neonatal death.

Who can be held responsible for my child’s birth injury?

If a birth injury has been caused by an error on the part of a medical professional, the parents may be entitled to compensation on behalf of their child. Financial compensation can help the family with expensive, potentially continual medical care that the injured child may require.

Attending obstetricians, obstetric nurses, technicians or other medical personnel may be liable for the losses your child and you face due to your child’s medical problems, physical and cognitive disabilities or other lasting harm. In some cases, the hospital or medical center where your child was born may be held liable.

A medical malpractice lawsuit can seek money to assist you with the costs associated with your child’s injury. You may also be entitled to damages for your mental anguish as parents. Your child may be entitled to future damages based on the life he or she should have had but will not.

We just recently received a cerebral palsy diagnosis for our toddler. Is it too late to file a birth injury lawsuit?

It is probably not too late for you to pursue a legal claim. New York has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits, which means there is a deadline for filing a lawsuit over a birth injury.

Most medical malpractice claims must be filed within 30 months of the date of the act resulting in the injury. However, the discovery rule permits some malpractice suits to be filed within a certain period of time after the injury is discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered.

Cerebral palsy is commonly diagnosed sometime after a child’s birth, such as when the child experiences delays in reaching motor skills milestones such as pushing up on arms, sitting up alone or crawling.

Birth injury lawsuits are complicated and can take a long time to develop. This and the statute of limitations are good reasons to contact a medical malpractice attorney experienced in New York as soon as you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury.

What can kind of compensation can we expect through a birth injury lawsuit?

Victims of birth injuries caused by medical malpractice may be eligible for compensatory damages. This could include money to help pay for:

  • Medical bills (past, current and future), such as those required for surgery, physical therapy, medical equipment and medications.
  • Nursing care or specialized day care.
  • Private tutoring.
  • Other accommodations.

Your child may also be eligible for the eventual cost of lost wages, lost earning capacity and future lost income, as well as for pain and suffering.

You may also be compensated for the lost parent-child relationship if your child’s injury has caused a significant mental disability. A malpractice lawsuit could also seek punitive damages if actions by the liable parties equate to gross negligence or reckless disregard for human life.

How can we afford a lawyer to pursue a birth injury lawsuit?

Your family can afford a Cohen & Jaffe medical malpractice attorney because you will not pay us for our legal services unless and until we obtain compensation for you. We provide legal services on a contingency fee basis, which means our success in your case determines our fees.

The legal fees you pay will be based on an agreed-upon percentage of any settlement or court award we obtain for you.

Our legal services begin with a free consultation about your case. If we determine that we can help, you still will have no obligation to retain us for any further work and you owe us nothing.

We’re ready to have one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys look at your case as soon as you are.

For a free claim evaluation and consultation, call us now or fill out our online contact form. We will respond promptly. We can arrange evening and weekend appointments, and we can come to you.

Will we have to go to court as part of a birth injury lawsuit?

Most medical malpractice claims are settled out of court through negotiations. It’s only when insurers refuse to provide an appropriate settlement that a case must go to court.

The medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe thoroughly prepare cases before we enter into negotiations with the liable parties. Each case is different, so we cannot guarantee how your case will progress, but if we cannot negotiate a settlement, we will fully prepare you and your case if we have to go to court.

How do birth injuries typically happen?

Many birth injuries are caused by obstetrical trauma during vaginal delivery conducted with instruments. In plain language, this occurs when a baby assumes an unnatural position prior to birth and the doctor (obstetrician) uses forceps, suction or other medical instruments with excessive force during delivery of the infant. This can cause trauma such as a broken collarbone, head injury, shoulder injury (brachial plexus injury), bruising or lacerations.

Oxygen deprivation is another major cause of birth injuries. This can result in brain damage, including mental retardation or cerebral palsy. Some common causes of oxygen deprivation include:

  • Compression or twisting that blocks the umbilical cord.
  • The umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck.
  • Leaving the baby in the birth canal too long,
  • Failure to recognize that the baby is in distress and perform a Caesarean section.

The baby’s oxygen level is one of many factors that should be constantly monitored during labor and birth. Failure to recognize a low oxygen level and take appropriate action could amount to medical malpractice if the baby suffers harm.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.