Should I Hire a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer?
With approximately 5.5. Million car accidents per year, 3 million of which result in injuries, it is no surprise that motor vehicle accidents are, by far, the most common personal injury cases in the United States, making up a staggering 52% of all claims.
If you or a loved one have experienced injuries or damages as the result of a motor vehicle accident, it is important to have a trusted and experienced attorney at your side who understands your situation and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Common Motor Vehicle Accident Cases
Car accidents may be the most common type of motor vehicle accident cases, but they are far from the only kind. Other “Motor Vehicle Accidents” include, but are not limited to:
- Bike accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
What to Do if You Have Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident
First and foremost, seek professional medical treatment as soon as possible.
Not only will a medical professional detect and treat any injuries from the accident, they will also properly document them (and what caused them), which can be key for any ensuing litigation.
Documenting the Scene of the Accident
It is important to document as many details as you can about the accident, such as the site it took place, your injuries, the damage to your car and more:
- Photograph/Record Site of Accident – Take as many photos or videos as you can of the location where the accident occurred, and the surrounding areas.
- Photograph/Record Injuries – It’s also imperative to document any cuts, bruises, scratches, stitches, bandages, surgeries or more that were caused by the accident.
- Photograph/Record Damage to Vehicle – any damage done to your vehicle should be carefully captured in photos and/or video.
- Gather and Preserve Evidence – Everything from clothes worn during the event to the items you had with you should be preserved and kept in as pristine of a condition as possible, as they may be needed for the case.
- Gather Witness Information – If there were any witnesses to the event, try to obtain their contact information (name, phone number, address, etc.), as they may be able to provide important testimony.
- Keep Track of Expenses – Medical bills, lost wages and any additional expenses stemming from the incident should be held on to and thoroughly documented, as they show how much financial damage you have suffered as a result of the injury.
Maintaining a well-organized and easily-accessible case file for all of this information is also an integral step to take, as losing or accidentally damaging important documents and evidence can quickly weaken a case.
To avoid this scenario, keep your case file (including any physical evidence) in a safe and secure place until it is needed.
Additionally, the window for asserting a claim is relatively short, with the statute of limitations for personal injury cases typically lasting only two years in New Jersey, and three in New York. If your claim is against a public entity (such as the state), the timeline is even more strict, as both NJ and NY require that you provide Tort Claims within 90 days of the incident.
These tight timelines mean that you’ll need to move quickly or lose your chance to bring your case to court and reach an appropriate settlement.
Keep an Organized Case File
With so many things to keep track of, maintaining a well-organized and easily-accessible case file is integral to success, as losing important documents or accidentally damaging evidence can quickly weaken a case or even scuttle any chances of winning.
To avoid this scenario, keep as many of the following items together in a safe and secure place:
- Photographs of site
- Photographs of injuries
- Associated bills (including medical)
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medical documentation
- Lost earnings
- Witness information
- Incident reports
- Other/additional evidence (clothing from the incident, etc.)
Should I Give a Statement to the Insurance Company?
You will most likely be contacted by your insurance agency about the details of your accident. However, it is in your best interest to avoid giving recorded statements or signing any documents without first speaking to your attorney.
Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim?
Both New York and New Jersey have variations of a “no-fault” car insurance system. What this means is that there is an emphasis on using personal insurance, and the only way to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver is if the accident resulted in what is considered a “serious injury.”
Serious injuries include:
- Loss of body part
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant scarring
- A displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent limited use of a body part, organ or member
- Significant limitation of a body function or system
Should your injuries meet this threshold, you may be able to pursue personal injury compensation for everything not covered in a no-fault claim, such as pain and suffering and other damages.
What If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
The lack of a seatbelt does not automatically negate your chances to receive compensation, nor does it necessarily scuttle the potential strength of your case.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, skilled lawyers can argue that even if you had been wearing a seatbelt, the injuries you sustained would still have occurred. In other words, the argument would be made that you are still eligible for compensation, regardless of whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not.
What if I am Only in a Minor Accident With No Damage?
If you are in an accident where there seems to be no damage to any of the vehicles involved, it’s still in your best interest to call the police, along with performing any kind of evidence or information gathering, such as exchanging contact info with the other drivers and taking pictures of the scene.
Contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer at Larkin Farrell, LLC
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a motor vehicle accident, contact Larkin Farrell, LLC, today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys, and get the settlement you deserve. All consultations are free of charge. We proudly serve clients in New Jersey and the NYC Metropolitan area.