For anyone who has been in a car accident, the thought of being stuck with the medical bills, collections, damaged credit, and ongoing physical pain can be unthinkable. Sadly, most people really do not know what goes into a personal injury or auto accident case. Many struggle to understand what separates a $50,000 case from a $500,000 case. What makes a difference, and how can you improve your chances of recovery? To answer these questions, consider seven things that can make or break your car accident case.
#1: Early Medical Treatment After a Car Accident
One of the best ways to preserve your rights and ensure that you are not stuck with expensive medical bills is to get medical after a car accident. It may seem counterintuitive to say that the key to getting your medical bills paid is to incur medical bills, but the fact is, insurance companies will almost always look for a way to argue that you were not actually hurt. Even if your injuries are very clear, a delay of as little as two or three days after the crash, and you can bet the insurance company will use this to argue that something else caused your injuries. In short, go straight to the hospital on the same day. Get checked out.
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#2: Disputed Liability
Some cases are exceedingly clear. Say a drunk driver veers into your lane, striking you head-on. This is pretty straightforward and should usually be a fairly uncontested case when it comes to liability. Unfortunately, most cases are far more complicated than that. Perhaps it is an intersection collision in which both parties claim to have a green light. Maybe it is a rear-end collision, but the driver in the rear claims the front driver stopped short. When liability is in dispute, it can reduce the overall likelihood of success, thus reducing the case value.
#3: Comparative Fault
In New York, you can still recover for your injuries, even if you shared some of the liability. However, the court will reduce your award by the amount of the fault that you share. This rule is known as “pure comparative negligence.”
#4: Medical Records and Evidence
The better your physicians document your injuries, the better a jury (and an insurance company) will be able to clearly understand your injuries and their likely impact on your life.
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#5: Your Credibility
Sadly, although your criminal history, drug use, or other negative factors may be entirely irrelevant to what happened on the day of the crash, they are not irrelevant in the court of public opinion. Some things cannot be admitted into evidence, while other things can. Insurance companies are very good at finding clever ways to make you look bad in hopes of diminishing your value. The more believable and credible you are as a witness to your own injuries, the better.
#6: Your Personal Injury
Remember that the severity of your injuries is the most important factor. A broken arm is painful and warrants full compensation. But it is not an amputation or a fatality. Ultimately, if the case does not settle, a jury will be forced to grapple with the severity of your injuries and what they are worth. Although most cases settle long before trial, insurance companies are aware of juries and what they typically award. Therefore, this is heavily considered when determining the value of your case.
#7: Hiring an Experienced Long Island Accident Attorney
As strange as it may sound, this is actually a huge factor in getting a fair settlement. If you hire an experienced and well-known personal injury law firm to represent you, then the insurance company and its lawyers will know you mean business. They know that this means they will have to pay thousands to defend the case, and they face a high chance of losing at trial. This type of leverage can help when negotiating a settlement offer.
If you have been injured in an car crash, call the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP today. We will not charge a thing unless we recover on your behalf, and the consultation is always free.