Passenger Injured in Auto Accident...
I was involved in an auto accident on July 8, 2011 around 11 PM. The driver hit a puddle coming home from dinner. They lost control of the car, about 100 feet from a sidewalk, and the car was stopped by a tree. I was the passenger and suffered trauma to right side of my body: shattered right elbow, suffering from back pain and right hip pain.
What should I be doing? Thanks
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ANSWER for "Passenger Injured in Auto Accident...":
Lisette (Inwood, NY):
The first thing you should be doing is taking care of yourself. That means seeking the medical care you need. At about the same time you should also ask the driver for her insurance information. It isn’t necessary to rush. The laws related to Personal Injuries in the State of New York permit a 2 year time period, referred to as the “Statute of Limitations” for a person to either settle a claim or file a lawsuit.
Once you have the insurance information call the 800 number and file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. This occurs when you first make contact with the insurance company. They will assign a representative, or “Claims Adjuster” who will handle your claim.
There is no need to file a lawsuit while you are attempting to negotiate with the insurance company. Hopefully the claim can be settled without the need for a lawsuit.
When the Claims Adjuster contacts you she will ask you to explain the collision from your point of view. You should tell her exactly what happened without any embellishments. The Adjuster will ask you for your consent to record the conversation. Doing so is standard procedure, so there shouldn't be need to withhold your consent.
You cannot presume the driver’s insurance company is automatically accepting liability just because the Adjuster is reviewing the facts with you. You can presume the Claims Adjuster has already spoken with her insured before she decided to contact you.
After speaking with both of you she will review any additional evidence related to liability, including speaking with any witnesses who may have seen the collision. You should continue to treat your injuries, while keeping in contact with the Adjuster every few days. Hopefully she will soon accept liability and begin paying your medical bills.
Once you complete your treatment and recovery you will be in a position to begin negotiating a final settlement with the insurance company. You should have been keeping track of not only your medical bills, but also any out of pocket expenses such as medicines, bandages, and even an adjusted amount of money for the gasoline you used while driving to doctors' offices, therapy and other related needs.
Make sure you give copies of all of the expenses to the Adjuster. Once you are recovered sufficiently to return to work you will be in a position to attempt a final negotiated settlement which will include, medical bills, therapy, out of pocket expenses, and even an amount for your pain and suffering.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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