On average, 12,093 hospitalizations occur each year due to motor vehicle traffic-related injuries in New York. This is a scary number, and one that is even more terrifying if you happen to be one of the many victims who suffered an injury in a rear-end collision in Syracuse.
Fortunately, there is room for optimism, as the number of New York roadway accidents does seem to decrease with regularity each year. Syracuse is an area with breathtaking views, great schools, and a vibrant sports community. While these are positives, they also mean our population of around 150,000 people can seem like four or five times that number during peak tourist seasons.
The challenge in Syracuse is the number of massive roadways. We are blessed, and in some ways cursed, to be a hub of interstates, US Highways, and Expressways. Some of these include Interstate 81, 90, and 690, US Highway 11, and 20, and State Routes 481 and 695.
Unfortunately, the number of roadways, intersections, and shopping centers also increases the likelihood of a rear-end collision when traveling on Syracuse roadways. When you are the victim of a rear-end collision, in nearly all cases, the person who struck you caused the accident. However, this does not mean the process of securing compensation for your injuries is going to be an easy one.
New York’s No-Fault Insurance Policies
No-fault coverage in New York complicates your ability to recover financially following a rear-end collision. New York insurance requirements mean you have to have a certain level of coverage before you can legally operate a motor vehicle on our roadways.
Here is what you need to know about these policies:
- Time limits – you have 30 days following the accident to file a claim with your own carrier. This is accomplished by filing Form NF2. Before you do this, contact a car accident attorney in Syracuse to determine if this is your best option.
- Medical expenses – your own carrier will reimburse you for as much as $50,000 if that is your limit. You can carry an additional personal injury protection (PIP) policy with a higher amount of coverage.
- Lost income – assuming you are disabled medically, you may be eligible to be reimbursed for up to three years of wages lost because of your injuries. PIP caps this amount at $2,000 monthly.
- Additional compensation – you may recover up to $25 daily for as long as a year after an accident in which you sustained an injury if you cannot drive yourself back and forth for medical care or handle other household chores while you recover.
The No-Fault Auto Insurance Exceptions in New York
Keep in mind, although you may use your no-fault coverage, this may not always recover the maximum compensation you deserve.
You may file a personal injury lawsuit if any of the following describes the level of injury you suffered:
- Broken bones
- Significant disfigurement
- The loss or impairment of a bodily organ as a result of the injury you suffered
- When your injuries are going to result in a disability that lasts 90 days or more
As you can see, these are a bit broad as well as vague, but a Syracuse personal injury attorney who understands the no-fault statutes can help you make sense of them and determine if you have the basis to pursue additional compensation outside the no-fault system.
Rear-End Accidents Can Result in Serious Injury
You may think a rear-end accident is not that big a deal. After all, they mostly occur at traffic signals right? Not so fast.
Victims of rear-end collisions often have to deal with:
- Crushed Limbs, Amputation, and Paralysis – not all rear-end accidents occur when one vehicle stops. A high-speed rear-end collision could place a victim in the center of a pileup, which results in injuries that impact the rest of their lives.
- Skull and Brain Injuries – concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and whiplash can all occur when you are a victim of a Syracuse rear-end collision. These injuries can cause life-long trauma and result in emotional problems, issues with range of motion, and more. Never assume these injuries will heal themselves over time, victims may never recover from the long-term impact of these types of injuries.
- Facial Injuries and Disfigurement – scrapes, broken noses, and dental issues resulting from broken teeth or jaws can mean multiple surgical procedures and scars that never go away. The force of rear-end impact at high speeds can cause devastating facial injuries to drivers and passengers.
- Emotional Effects of a Rear-End Collision – when a car strikes you from the rear, the shock of the sudden impact is the first thing you may be aware of. After an accident, you may be afraid to drive. Unfortunately, the trauma does not always end there. Being out of work, unable to properly provide for your family, and battling pain and medical issues all contribute to your emotional state following an accident.
Unfortunately, it only takes two seconds of distraction to cause a rear-end accident on Syracuse roadways. Those two seconds can have an irreparable impact on your life.
Your Rights and Understanding of the Law
Are accidents inevitable? No.
In nearly all cases, drivers can avoid rear-end collisions. Drivers who are going too fast, those who are distracted by a cell phone, a trucker who is in a hurry to reach their destination, a driver who got behind the wheel while under the influence—these are not harmless accidents, they are collisions caused by another person’s bad decision-making, and you should not be the one paying the price for their negligent behavior.
Keep in mind, most of those who are not in the legal field have no reason to know what rights they may have under the laws of New York when it comes to personal injury. The reason for contacting an attorney who has experience handling roadway collisions is to protect your rights, and that you understand those rights and your options for moving forward.
Key Factors Following a Rear-End Collision
Immediately following a rear-end collision, you are understandably rattled, and you may feel a great deal of uncertainty as to what steps you need to take to protect yourself.
Try to take these immediate actions following a collision, however:
- Safety first – always get as far out of the traffic flow as possible to avoid sustaining any additional injuries.
- Notifications – any time an injury or damage takes place, notify law enforcement.
- Information gathering – you may need the names and contact information for any driver involved, passengers in any vehicle involved, and witnesses.
- Documenting the scene – if you can physically do so, document the scene. Photographs of the vehicles involved, the location of the accident, and traffic signals or signs can be helpful later on if you are pursuing compensation.
- Seeking medical attention – rear-end collision victims often think they do not need medical attention because they do not appear to be injured. Do not avoid seeking medical attention because you may have internal injuries caused by seat belts, airbags, or even your steering wheel. It is a bad idea to assume you are fine.
- Keep discussions vague – when talking to others at the scene, including drivers, passengers, and law enforcement officers, never give the impression you may have been fully or partially at fault for the crash. Doing so will come back to haunt you later.
- Contact an attorney – once you have sought medical attention and are back at home recovering, consider reaching out to a qualified personal injury attorney for advice. Since you can request a free consultation, you have nothing to lose—and you might be surprised how much you have to gain.
Remember, establishing liability in a collision is not always a straightforward proposition. While in some cases, establishing fault can be easy, in other cases, it can be downright frustrating and confusing. This is why having a lawyer who can explain the law to you is so important following a collision.
Your Physical Recovery and Mental Health
It is not uncommon to feel anxious or worried following a car collision. After all, your future health is a constant worry until you know how your injuries will affect the rest of your life, and the lives of the members of your family. Your mental health plays a role in your physical recovery—the more stressed you are, the longer your recovery may take.
Once you report an accident to any insurance company, nearly everyone involved in the accident will receive phone calls from an insurance adjuster. In fact, in many cases, multiple adjusters will be handling collision claims—one adjuster will handle medical bills while another is likely to be handling medical claims.
The problem here is two-fold:
- Focus on Physical Recovery – when you have been involved in a collision and have suffered an injury your primary focus should be on restoring your physical health. Your age, your health before the collision, and the extent of your injuries will be a factor in how quickly you recover physically.
- Adjusters Are Not Your Friend – despite their friendly demeanor when you speak with them, an adjuster is not there to protect your interests! That friendly banter will probably start with something like, “How are you doing today?” That is their way to determine whether they can reduce the potential settlement by showing that your injuries may not be having as serious an impact on you as your medical records might indicate.
Insurance Company Offers and Documents
After an accident that you report to your insurer, you may see a flood of paper in your mailbox. The insurer may ask you to fill out these forms and submit them back to them at your earliest convenience. Do not sign or mail back a single document until an attorney who represents your interests reviews them.
Do not be fooled into thinking your insurer is working in your best interests—they are not. This is why many collision victims contact an attorney in the first place because their insurer has either denied a claim outright, or they have made a painfully inadequate settlement offer.
Never accept the first offer an insurance company makes! There is a good chance they will tell you immediately. It probably is not the best offer and in fact, it is probably the least they are anticipating paying for your damages, which is why they are making the offer in the first place.
Those seemingly innocent documents you get could contain traps—forcing you to disclose your prior medical history, convincing you that the maximum amount you can get for a settlement is the amount which is contained in their offer—these are some fairly common insurance industry tactics.
Free Consultations and Legal Fees for Collision Claims
You may think you cannot afford to hire an attorney when you are involved in a Syracuse rear-end collision. After all, you are injured, you are out of work and have no firm return date, and your bills are piling up. You want to preserve your savings to make sure your family does not feel the crunch from your reduced income.
Here is the good news—you can talk to a rear-end collision lawyer free of charge to find out more about your rights and legal options. Should you decide to hire a Syracuse car accident lawyer to help you with negotiations, most work on a contingency fee basis. This means you typically will not pay anything in attorney fees unless and until the firm can secure a settlement on your behalf. This is a win-win for you.
If you suffered an injury in a rear-end collision in or around Syracuse, or you lost a loved one in a rear-end collision on our roadways, a Syracuse car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and legal options.