Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q:How Is My Lawyer Paid? I Cannot Afford a Lawyer.

    A: Personal injury attorneys customarily get paid a percentage of the money recovered, called a contingency fee. This means that your personal injury lawyer gets paid at the end of your case, whether you recover money through settlement or jury verdict and judgment. In most cases, the lawyer's fee is one-third of the total settlement or judgment. The fee for medical malpractice cases is based on a sliding scale, required by the state of New York. A personal injury attorney advances expenses on the case and will recover those at the case conclusion. The client is responsible for these, whether they win or lose. The client, however, pays no attorney fee unless money is recovered. An attorney can typically tell at the beginning of your case if he or she believes that you can win.

  • Q:How Long Do I Have to Bring a Case?

    A: You must file your case within the statute of limitations, which is a fixed period of time dictated by the law. This can be as short as ninety days or as long as three years. In automobile accidents, certain steps sometimes must be taken within thirty days. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, your claims can be dismissed. Consequently, it is important to talk with an experienced Queens personal injury lawyer as soon as you receive or discover an injury.

  • Q:Can I Still Sue If I Was Partially at Fault?

    A: Yes. Under New York's comparative negligence rules, you may still have a case even though you were partly at fault in the accident. The possibility of recovery varies from case to case and requires careful analysis of the facts and law by an experienced personal injury lawyer.

  • Q:How Much Is My Case Worth?

    A: This is probably the most frequently asked question. Every case is different and there are no rules for valuing a case. Many factors influence case value, including: the severity of the injury and whether it impacts on your ability to earn a living, the question of liability or fault, the amount of available insurance coverage, the permanence of your injuries and other items too numerous to list here. Your attorney may be able to give you a very general idea of the value of your case based on prior similar injuries, but usually cannot predict a specific recovery. Reputable attorneys will not speculate on the value of a case or promise a specific result.

  • Q:How Long Will My Case Take?

    A: Every case is different. Some cases can be settled promptly while others take years to resolve. A number of factors influence how long a case will take. Generally, the more severe your injury, the longer the case will take. Because a more severe injury may take longer to stabilize, it takes more time to judge the full extent of the effects of the injury and its residual effects. What if you need surgery in the future? It can take longer to build up and present a larger case to the insurance company for the other side. While fast results are desirable, remember that you do not want to hurry or rush your case as your financial recovery will be better if the case is handled carefully and thoughtfully.

  • Q:Do I Need an Attorney for My Personal Injury Claim in Queens?

    A: Remember who the adjuster works for: an insurance company. They have one goal, to settle your case for the least amount of money possible. What may seem like a fair offer to you could fall far short of the amount of money received in a personal injury settlement through a lawyer. A national study showed that injured persons represented by an attorney received 300% more than persons who settled without a lawyer. Even after you deduct the usual attorney's fee of one-third, people represented by personal injury attorneys recover far more than those who take a check on the spot. Remember, the insurance adjuster becomes a hero to the insurance company every time he or she forces a small, quick settlement on an unrepresented injured person. Do not count on an insurance company to look out for your best interests. Hire an experienced personal injury attorney.

  • Q:If I Get Hurt on the Job, Can I Sue My Employer?

    A: If you are accidentally injured on the job you cannot sue your employer or co-worker. The tradeoff is that your employer's workers' compensation insurance will pay your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages while you are unable to work. However, often someone else is partially or totally responsible for your accident, and in such cases you can pursue a claim against that person or company. If you are traveling while on your job and are in an automobile accident, you can bring a claim against the other vehicle and driver that caused the accident. If you are injured while working on a construction site, you may be able to sue the owner or general contractor for safety violations. If you are injured due to defective machinery, you may be able to sue the manufacturer, or seller of the equipment. The best advice is if you suffer any serious injury, whether on the job or not, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Our attorneys have affiliations with lawyers in other states, or with attorneys that specialize in the handling of workers' compensation or social security disability claims.

  • Q:What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

    A: Underinsured motorist coverage is optional automobile insurance coverage for which you pay an extra instance premium. This coverage applies if you are injured by a vehicle with insurance policy coverage limits that are less than the limits of your own underinsured motorist coverage. After the other vehicle's insurance company pays you its policy limits, you can recover additional money from your own automobile insurance policy. An example of underinsured motorist coverage- would be where the other vehicle has the minimum insurance coverage required in New York, $25,000, and you have $100,000 in underinsured motorist insurance coverage. If the other vehicle's insurance carrier pays its $25,000 coverage limits you could potentially recover up to $75,000 from your own automobile insurance company, for a total of $100,000. Not all automobile insurance policies contain underinsured motorist coverage, but everyone should have it. You should read your insurance policy carefully and, if in doubt, discuss it with your broker or insurance carrier. There are several technical requirements and short deadlines that apply to claims for uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage. If you are injured in a car, truck, motorcycle or automobile accident, you should quickly contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

  • Q:What Is "No-Fault" Insurance?

    A: "No-fault" insurance, or personal injury protection (PIP) as it may called out side of New York State, pays your medical bills and part of your lost wages for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident, no matter who caused the accident. In certain circumstances no-fault insurance covers medical and hospital expenses, prescriptions, housekeeping services (if a doctor confirms the necessity), taxi cabs to medical appointments and pays a portion of your lost wages, no matter who caused the accident. Your injury must relate to a motor vehicle accident although you may be a pedestrian or bicycle rider when hurt. Most people involved in an automobile accident in New York State, even pedestrians, can get no-fault benefits from somewhere, possibly even the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). It is important to note that motorcycle drivers are not usually covered. If you are hurt in an automobile accident, you should get the benefits, which do not compensate you for pain and suffering, just for economic loss. (However, if you were working at the time of the accident, you may be eligible for workers' compensation.) No-fault benefits do not last indefinitely and there are procedures for your insurance company to cancel the benefits. Additionally, there are certain forms that must be filed with the no-fault insurance carrier immediately as short time deadlines apply which could jeopardize your claim for no-fault benefits. These deadlines can be as short as thirty days from the date of your accident. We can only repeat the advice previously given: If you are injured in a car accident, truck accident, or automobile accident, then you should quickly contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Queens or New York.

  • Q:What If Someone Approaches Me to Hire Their Lawyer?

    A: First: It is fine to be referred to a lawyer by a trusted friend or family member. Unfortunately, in many cases, and particularly in the five boroughs of the City of New York, you do not have to do a thing to find an accident attorney. If you are in an accident, business cards for paralegals/legal assistants, intermediaries, legal or medical coordinators, self-styled insurance managers, and representatives of doctors' offices and medical facilities will fly into your hands. Second: you should know that hospitals do not give anyone an accident or injury lawyer. As a patient, your hospital record, address, and telephone number are supposed to be kept confidential and should never be given out without your permission. Third: you need to ask, is this proper? is this allowed, or are these the people I want to trust with my case? What about my family's financial well-being if I cannot work again? Fourth: there are more things that you must know. The people running around with business cards or calling you or trying to drive you to the doctor or lawyer are not doing so out of the goodness of their hearts. Remember, you want a team of professionals who do not pay for cases, which is unethical and probably illegal.

  • Q:Is It Alright If My Union Gave me a Lawyer?

    A: Be careful. Think! Should I trust my family's financial future to a lawyer who may have paid a union official for my case unethically and, possibly, illegally?

  • Q:Are There Any Special Legal Protections for Construction Workers?

    A: First: you can sue the party whose carelessness caused or even just contributed to your construction worksite accident and injury, just as you can in other types of accidents where there is no construction work, such as a car accident or sidewalk trip-and-fall case. If you are injured as a result of defective or faulty equipment or machinery, you may also have legal recourse against the companies that designed, manufactured, repaired, maintained, supplied, delivered, or operated that equipment or machinery. Second: The New York State Labor Law Section 240 provides powerful extra-strong protection for workers at companies engaged in, "Erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure." This applies even if you work for a contractor who is a part of such a project, but not actually performing any of these tasks. And you can sue the owner and the general contractor, even if they were not directly responsible for your accident.

  • Q:Why Is My Accident Case Like a Three-Legged Stool?

    A: First: these three parts of an accident cases are: 1) fault or "liability" 2) insurance coverage 3) severity of injury or "damages." Second: liability asks, "Whose fault is the accident?" In some cases, the construction worker may bear some fault for their own injury. However, in some cases brought under New York's Labor Law, the construction worker's fault might legally not even be considered, so that fault is considered 100% against the defendant(s). Every case is different and presents different and possibly complicated legal issues for your accident attorney to consider. Third: insurance coverage is simple to analyze. Does the defendant have insurance to cover the worker's injury and loss? Insurance is purchased in dollar amounts, so there may be coverage of $1 million or any other amount. Fourth: presenting the injured worker's damages to a jury is the art of what an experienced accident attorney does. You may hurt, but how do you show hurt or pain and suffering? Are there any test results? Custom charts or graphs or even video animations may be prepared - possibly to show how the accident occurred or to lay out economic damages or bodily injury in a way that makes it easier for a jury to understand.

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