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Car, Motorcycle & Bike FAQs

What Should I DO If I Was in a Car Accident?

  1. DO STOP YOUR CAR. If your car is involved in an accident and you don’t stop, you may be subject to criminal charges. Leave your car as close as possible to the place of impact without blocking traffic. To avoid additional collisions, raise the hood of your car and put your hazard warning lights on. If the accident occurs at night, place flares or reflectors on the road.
  2. DO AID THE INJURED. If someone is injured, give first aid if you are qualified and call for an ambulance. Remember to make note of the location of the accident before you call for an ambulance. Tell the ambulance dispatcher the name and number of the street as well as the direction in which the cars were traveling at the time of the accident.
  3. DO CALL THE POLICE. A police report of the accident will aid your insurance claim and any liability claims. Note the officer’s name and badge number, and ask the officer how to obtain a copy of the accident report. If you do receive a traffic ticket, it does not mean you are guilty of a traffic offense or that you are responsible for the accident. Pleading guilty though, could very well hurt your claim for damages from the other driver. Consult your lawyer and insurance agent before pleading guilty to any traffic offense.
  4. DO WRITE DOWN THE DETAILS OF YOUR ACCIDENT. Make notes about details like the time of day, weather conditions, road conditions, streetlights, and length of skid marks. Also make a diagram of the accident noting the location of the vehicles, cross walks, stop signs and traffic signals
  5. DO EXCHANGE INFORMATION WITH THE OTHER DRIVER. Exchange information with the driver of the other car. You should get the following information:
    1. Other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, name of insurance company and policy number.
    2. Passenger’s name, address and phone number.
    3. Witnesses’ name, address and phone number.
    4. Owner’s (if not the driver) name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number.
  6. DO TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES of all the damage to your vehicle before you have it repaired, as well as any visible physical injuries.
  7. DO GET MEDICAL ATTENTION RIGHT AWAY. Even if you feel O.K., the longer you delay seeing a doctor, the less documentation you have of your accident. It is best to go straight to the emergency room. It is likely that even if you don’t hurt at the scene, you will begin to “stiffen up” within an hour or two after the accident.
  8. DO GIVE THE DOCTOR A DETAILED HISTORY –tell the doctor exactly how the impact to your vehicle occurred. Tell the doctor about everything that’s hurting you, even if it doesn’t hurt much. It may hurt more later on.
  9. DO NOTIFY YOUR INSURANCE AGENT. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible after an accident. If you delay, your insurance company may have grounds to deny you coverage. Follow up the phone call with a written notice that should contain information about the date, time and place of the accident, with names and addresses of the other drivers, injured persons, passengers, and witnesses. If you were at fault, your liability insurance should pay for any injuries or property damages. If the other driver is at fault but does not have insurance, your insurance may pay for damages to your car (collision coverage), your medical expenses (medical payment coverage) and even for your pain and suffering (if you have uninsured motorist coverage).
  10. DO CALL YOUR LAWYER. Most lawyers offer a free consultation so you have nothing to lose by calling your lawyer first. Remember: the insurance companies have thousands of lawyers working to protect them so make sure you have an attorney working to protect YOU! If you don’t have a lawyer, you may call us at 1–800-ZIFFLAW or E-mail us at [email protected] and we will be happy to speak with you right away. Your lawyer can best advise you about your rights and responsibilities. Because witnesses may forget the details of the accident, the sooner you get the assistance of a lawyer, the better. Your lawyer can counsel you on how to respond to questions from insurance adjusters and help you recover compensation for your personal injuries and damages to your car.

What Should I NOT Do If I Was in a Car Accident?

  • DO NOT ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ACCIDENT EITHER WITH THE POLICE AT THE SCENE OR THE OTHERS INVOLVED. If there is litigation, things you say may be used against you. Although you may think the accident was your fault, you may find out later that the other driver was actually to blame, or you were both equally at fault. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be truthful with the police about the FACTS of your accident– you just should not offer your OPINION that the accident was your fault.
  • DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS NOR AGREE TO PAY ANY DAMAGES. You should leave the payment of any damages to your insurance company. That’s why you pay insurance premiums and that’s why you have insurance coverage. Your insurance company will determine what expenses are appropriate to pay.
  • DO NOT EVER DOWNPLAY YOUR INJURIES OR SAY YOU’RE “O.K.” AT THE SCENE. Soft tissue and disc injuries often take hours or days to begin to really hurt. People are often very shaken up and disoriented after an accident so very often they don’t realize they’ve been hurt until later when they start to calm down from the initial excitement of the crash. If you are asked if you were injured, always say, ” I am not sure about my injuries– I plan to see a doctor to look me over.” If you have any pain at all, and the officer offers an ambulance, you should consider letting him or her call one for you.
  • NEVER GIVE A STATEMENT TO THE OTHER DRIVER’S INSURANCE COMPANY. OFFER ONLY THE VERY BASICS. The insurance company is sure to be in contact with you soon after the accident regarding the property damage to your vehicle. That does not give them the right to ask you detailed questions about your injuries. It is best not to speak to them at all regarding your injuries until you seek the advice of an attorney who concentrates on personal injury.
  • DO NOT TAKE MONEY FOR YOUR INJURIES OR SETTLE UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED TREATMENT. Insurance companies may try to offer you money for your injuries right away. The full extent of your injuries may not be apparent for weeks or months. Once you settle for your injuries, you can’t get any more money, no matter what they say.
  • DO NOT HIRE A “FAMILY ATTORNEY” FOR AN INJURY CASE. Many people have a “family attorney” who assists the family with wills, real estate closings, or domestic matters; however, this is usually not the best attorney to handle your personal injury case. It is best to seek an attorney who concentrates exclusively on personal injury cases. If you don’t know an experienced personal injury lawyer, you may call us at 1–800-ZIFFLAW or E-mail us at [email protected] and we will be happy to speak with you right away.

How long after you send your medical records to the adjuster is it until you get a settlement offer?

This is a great question but a tough one to answer because the most accurate answer is: “It depends”. Unfortunately, there is no required time for an adjuster to make any sort of a settlement offer. In fact, it is very common for adjusters to tell people that they will get “right back to you as soon as we get your records” and then they keep stringing you along by saying “we need one more thing before we can make you an offer”. This process can go on for a LONG time before an adjuster finally tells you “now that we have looked at everything, we don’t intend to make ANY offer (or we will offer you 10% of your case is worth)”. This is a strategy that insurance companies regularly use for two reasons: 1. DELAY SO IMPORTANT EVIDENCE EVAPORATES — The insurance adjuster wants you to think they are going to treat you fairly without the need to hire a lawyer so that time will go by and important evidence in your case (like witnesses or photos) will be difficult or impossible to locate or preserve. 2. WEAR YOU DOWN– Adjusters want to wear you down so you just get so frustrated that you are willing to accept much less than your case is worth. Because this is a known “game” where the adjusters know how to “play the game” and you don’t, it is important that you have an experienced accident lawyer ON YOUR SIDE who knows how to beat the adjusters at their own game.…. Thanks for your great question, Jim

What is “No-Fault” Insurance?

Understanding No Fault in New York

In the 1970’s New York’s automobile No-Fault Law was enacted to ensure that insurance companies would pay for legitimate crash related medical expenses, lost earnings and incidental costs, regardless of who was at fault in a crash. The intent behind the law was to speed up compensation without the necessity of long drawn out litigation over fault and the amounts owed and to curb and control claims related to automobile crash expenses. New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law offers benefits (quick payments for expenses) and restrictions (on lawsuits for pain and suffering). New York is one of the 12 states that have a No-Fault coverage. If you are injured in a crash in New York, the No-Fault coverage you receive comes from the vehicle you drove, rode in, were hit by, or came into contact with. No-Fault is separate and distinct claim from a bodily injury claim. Many people get this confused. If injured in a crash, a cyclist, pedestrian, driver or passenger may have the right to sue for their injury as well as their pain and suffering. This is what we call a bodily injury or BI claim. When you are a cyclist, pedestrian or passenger, it will be this same insurance company that provides and pays your No-Fault claim that will also be defending and paying a judgment or settlement for your BI claim. Although payment is made by the same insurance company, these are completely separate claims. Each has their own laws and rules and is usually handled by different adjusters and departments at the insurance company. The two claims also have different standards of proof, available compensation, and coverage. No-Fault in New York was designed to ensure that regardless of fault; an insurance company will pay cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and passengers up to $50,000.00 for the legitimate economic losses. This includes ambulance and hospital expenses, doctor bills, prescription drugs and diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and MRI’s as well as therapeutic services such as physical therapy. It also includes your lost wages. It does not include compensation for pain and suffering. Any additional claims can be pursued (if you qualify) by a separate lawsuit against the driver(s) and vehicle owner, or any other party who is responsible for causing the crash and your injury.

Who gets No-Fault?

New York No-Fault Law applies to any cyclist, pedestrian, passengers, or driver injured by a motor vehicle in New York. The conditions that must be met to qualify for No-Fault coverage:
  • The accident occurred in New York.
  • The injured party was the driver or passenger of the insured vehicle or a cyclist or pedestrian struck by or in contact with the motor vehicle.
  • The vehicle must be a car, truck, bus, taxi (not a motorcycle) or other vehicle covered by New York No-Fault law.
  • The vehicle is registered in New York.
  • The vehicle has an insurance policy sold in New York or issued by a company licensed to do business in the State of New York.

Who doesn’t get No –Fault?

  • Motorcyclists
  • Vespa or Scooter Riders ( depending on the engine size of the scooter)
  • Someone injured as a result of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated
  • And under other certain circumstances, out –of– state policies, etc…

How to file for No-Fault?

There are important steps to follow in order to make a no-fault claim. Although the intent of the legislation was to ease the process, this is simply not the case. Under the false premises that they are combating insurance fraud, the insurance companies have turned this process into an adversarial proceeding taking advantage of any mistake a claimant may make to deny you coverage. Whether failing to miss a filing date, a medical appointment, or by an incorrect entry on a form, a carrier can deny you your medical benefits and lost wages. Even when everything is done properly, you still may face a denial after one of THEIR doctors says you don’t need treatment. In order to protect your coverage and your benefits these are the steps needed to properly file a claim. The No-Fault Application (form NF-2): The no-fault application is normally provided form the insurance carrier of the car that struck you, you came into contact with, that you were driving or in which you were a passenger. If you were a cyclists or a pedestrian AND own your own car, you should request or send the application to your insurance company as well. You may have benefits under your policy such as excess PIP (additional no-fault coverage above $50,000). The application can be requested by phone but it is recommended to also request it by mail, certified return receipt requested. Time Constraints- You have thirty (30) days from the date of the crash to file the application. Don’t put it off thinking that your injuries may get better or that your health insurance will cover injuries you suffered in the crash. Simply filing the application does not obligate you to commence a claim. Second, most health insurance do not cover a personal injury resulting from a car crash. Filing the form simply protects your rights. Additionally, make sure that you send the form to the correct insurance company. Even if you believe the crash was not the fault of the driver, the No-Fault Application still gets sent to the insurance carrier for the car that you were struck by or was a passenger in, or was driving. There are occasions where you may not be able to ascertain the insurance company of the car that struck you, especially if a driver of a car is particularly uncooperative and will not provide the information. Always call the police. The police will obtain the information for you and place it on the Police Report. The police report will have a three digit code that will indentify the insurance carrier. If you still cannot find the insurance company, the new regulations do allow you to provide written proof of a “clear or reasonable” reason for missing the 30 deadline. But, the insurance companies are largely responsible for determining what is “clear or reasonable” so don’t count on this provision to save you from the late filing. MVAIC — If you cannot determine the insurance company on time, you should, at a minimum, send a notice right away to the New York State Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). MVAIC is a state run agency which steps into the shoes of the insurance company where there is no insurance. If you find out the identity of the insurance company after you file with MVAIC, you can withdraw your claim. Hopefully you will not need it. MVAIC is a state agency and is full of bureaucratic paperwork and is difficult to navigate even for a seasoned attorney. Lost Wages- Under No-Fault you can claim lost earnings and out of pocket expenses. Lost earnings require your employer sends proof of your wages on a form provided by the insurance company called a No-Fault Wage Verification Report. You may need to be on top of your boss or H.R. department to get this filled out. Under No-Fault you are entitled to receive 80% of your crash related lost earnings up to $2000 a month. You will also require a note from your doctor that you are disabled from performing your normal job duties. Your doctor must specify the length of your disability and that it is related to the crash. Out-of-Pocket Expenses- Save all your receipts for taxis and transportation costs, pharmacy bills and other crash related expenses. No-fault will reimburse you for travel expenses to and from your doctors or medical treatment. They will also reimburse you for medications, brace and bandages as well as up to $25 dollars a day for other related incidentals for one year post accident.


After your claim is filed you should be provided with a no-fault claim number. This number, together with the name of the insurance company, the adjuster assigned, and contact information should be provided to your doctor and other health care providers for all treatment, both past and future. If you left the hospital without providing insurance information, call the hospital billing department right away and give them the information. You may have also been provided with a no-fault facility form to mail to the hospital. Fill this out with the no-fault information and your patient number and mail in right away. In the next several weeks you may receive a bill for the ambulance, x-rays, labs, or other treatment related to the crash. The no-fault information should be provided to these facilities as well. Once you provide the information you have fulfilled your obligation and it is incumbent upon the service providers to timely submit the claims and respond the insurance companies demand for additional information. Don’t expect No-Fault to last forever. The insurance company wants you off their coverage as soon as possible. In order to do so, they are allowed to have you examined by a physician or medical specialists to determine in his or her opinion whether you need additional treatment or your treatment and no-fault benefits should be terminated. This doctor hired by the insurance company will also decide whether you are still disabled or can return to work. If you fail to appear for an exam, they can use this as grounds to terminate your benefits. You may also be required to appear for an E.U.O. (examination under oath). This is a hearing ordered by the company where an attorney hired by the insurance company will ask you questions about the crash and your treatment. If you fail to appear they can use this as grounds to terminate your benefits.


If your claim is denied and you have private health insurance, you can submit the bills to your private carrier and also direct your doctors to bill them as well. Obtain a copy of the denial as most insurance companies want proof that you have been denied by No-Fault before they assume the bills. If you do not have any insurance and cannot afford to continue treatment, speak to your doctor concerning your continued treatment on a lien basis. These additional medical lien expenses would become part of the damages being claimed in your underlying case against the defendant. The No-Fault carrier’s denial includes instructions on how to fight or arbitrate the denial. DO NOT ARBITRATE THE NO-FAULT DENIAL OR ALLOW YOUR DOCTOR TO DO IT FOR YOU UNTIL YOUR LAWSUIT IS RESOLVED. An adverse finding at the arbitration can destroy your claims in the underlying lawsuit for damages.


No-Fault, although original designed to be non-adversarial has turned out to be just the opposite. The rules change regularly and the failure to comply with one element may destroy your rights to collect these benefits. Most lawyers (at least the ones you want to retain) do not charge for handling the no-fault aspect of the case while handling the underlying personal injury litigation. The right attorney also is familiar with all of the No-Fault regulations, knows all the individual nuances of the insurance companies and can easily navigate their attempts to deny your benefits. —————————————————————————————————————– This article was originally co-written by Attorney Jim Reed and NYC Attorney Daniel Flanzig for their monthly column “Wheels of Justice” on the NY Bicycling Coalition website at

I’m uninsured and hit by taxi while walking. My lawyer failed to submit paper works for No Fault Insurance within 30 days after the accident, and taxi company is refusing to pay my medical bills because of that. What do I do?

You should immediately talk to your lawyer about appealing the NF denial because there are certain circumstances under which a NF denial can be overturned on appeal. Good luck!

The back of my car was scratched at an intersection by a driver who wanted to squeeze behind my car to make a turn and didn’t want to wait until there was enough room for me to move forward so he could pass behind me with ease. I thought this scratch was worse than it was, so I reported it to my insurance company. I then called back and canceled the claim. However, they didn’t remove it from my record and it is listed as a collision with no money paid. Does anyone know if I can get this off my record and if not, what records will it show up on? Thanks.

The sad fact is that every insurance company has a different policy for what constitutes an “accident” and how it is reflected on your insurance coverage. Some companies in this scenario will promptly remove the “accident” from your record if there are no claims, the collision wasn’t your fault and the damage truly was trivial. Other companies, like yours apparently, insist an “accident” is an “accident” and will continue to carry it in your customer history even if there is no claim and even if the accident was not your fault. The key thing is to find out if your company is charging you an additional premium for this “accident”. If not, at least this listing in your history isn’t costing you money. On the other hand, if the “accident” is resulting in higher premiums I don’t blame you one bit for trying to get it removed from your history. Contact the carrier and see if there is any procedure for removing this from your record. If they will remove it, great. If not, you may be stuck with it so long as you remain with that company. Your best remedy in this scenario is to always remember that you can “Vote with Your Feet”. What I mean by this, is that it’s a free world and if your insurance company isn’t treating you properly, at renewal time seek competitive quotes from other insurance carriers. Remember: insurance carriers are dying to get your business so often times one carrier will offer promotions to attract new customers. With that said, when you go to get insurance be VERY CAREFUL to make sure that you are purchasing all of the particular types of coverage that are essential to have proper coverage (e.g. in my book that means a MINIMUM of Liability limits of $250,000/$500,000 and SUM (supplementary under/uninsured coverage of $250,000/$500,000). Good luck!

Hi my Name is Mauricio Garcia and i was in a accident. I was sitting passenger when an 18wheeler had hit us from behind yes i was wearing my seatbelt butt the airbags didnt deploy on the driver or my side we were hit from behind so bad that it was a four car collision the 18 wheeler hit our van then our van hit a van in front of us and then that van hit a suburban and no doubt that it was and is the truckers fault. what do i do?

Mauricio: The first thing I would recommend you do is talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer who can quickly guide you through the many steps necessary to protect your legal rights. A lawyer can explain what is required for an injury lawsuit in your state, who pays for your medical bills and lost wages, etc. If your accident was in NY or PA, feel free to call me at 800-ZiffLaw (943‑3529) and I will be happy to talk to you about your case. Let me know if I can help.

If i was in a car accident that resulted in bodily injury in the state of texas, and was compensated with a settlement out of court, is that amount taxable? if so, what percent does the govt tax?

Generally the proceeds of a personal injury action are NOT taxable. Of course, every situation is different so it is always a good idea to check with your own attorney or tax preparer to make sure there is not some reason why your particular settlement is taxable. I hope that helps answer your question.

I was in a car accident and my car was totaled. My insurance company offered to pay me the amount i paid for the car, less my $1000 deductible. I was told that the insurance company gets the value of the car through the fair market value. I didn’t own this car for more than 180 days and did not purchase it new. Therefore, i don’t believe im getting what my car is really worth(FMV). If the other driver’s insurance company, finds him 100% liable, should i make a claim through them for my car loss, instead of my insurance company? and if i do, will they give me the Fair Market Value?

In NY State, the fair market value (FMV) is calculated using a computer database of sales for similar vehicles in your area. In the old days, we used to negotiate FMV using Blue Book values, other local sales, etc. but these days, generally whatever the computer spits out as the FMV, is what the insurance company is required to pay. My general advice is that unless you truly believe there is a HUGE (ie 40–50%) discrepancy between the computerized valuation and what you calculate is the true FMV based upon your own FMV research, not just your “hunch” about the value, than it is not worth fighting the offer from the insurance company. In other words, take the money and run! And as to dealing with your insurance company versus the other driver’s insurance company, most of the time you are better off dealing with your own company. Hope this helps.

If I already hired an attorney to handle my accident and he sent me to a doctor of his choice, is it possible for him to send me to a different one that is more convenient and may or may not be of his choice? if i wanted to switch lawyers in the midst of things, would he charge me a fee being that nothing was settled as of yet? It hasn’t been a month yet since my car accident.

As I always advise people, if you have already hired a lawyer, you are best off taking advice from that lawyer, not some other lawyer, like me, who doesn’t know ALL the details of your case. With that said, I do not personally tell my client’s where they should get their medical treatment as I believe it is my job to give legal advice, not medical advice. That’s not to say that I won’t talk with my clients regarding who I have heard is good, but I just do not get involved with steering clients to a particular Dr. as I don’t think that is appropriate. As to changing lawyers and any fees that might be charged, that is something that would depend on a number of factors: what does the lawyer’s retainer agreement say about fees, has a lawsuit been filed, what work has been done on your case, what expenses have been incurred, etc. I would need to know all these things to be able to tell you what you might be charged if you chose to change lawyers. I hope this helps.

I made 2 foot long scratches on a car and he wanted to charge me way too much all he has is my name phone number and parents address which I don’t live with and the plates. He doesn’t have my insurance company information nor policy number nor there was an accident report this happened monday night it is now wednesday night can they still file a police report and make the claim?

Yes, a police report CAN be filed days, weeks or even months after an accident IF the police are willing to do so. In a situation like this where the parties avoided filing a police report because they were going to handle it themselves, where one party is now backing out on that agreement, I could easily see a police officer be willing to help out the other party and accordingly they might be inclined to file a report. In other situations, I have seen police refuse to file a report even days later. So, the bottom line is that you cannot be sure that it is too late to file an accident report. I also want to make one very important point: if you have insurance coverage that might cover this claim, your failure to timely report the possible claim to your insurance company may give your insurance company a valid basis for denying all coverage. Hope this info helps.

I forgot to mention that the insurance is not even under my name its my husbands name and the guy doesn’t have my husband’s information at all. So its been two days can they file and claim anyway?

It is very easy for someone to get your husband’s name and insurance information so I sure wouldn’t rely on that being a problem for someone who is interested in pursuing you. My advice is to take your medicine and make things right with this person because otherwise it is likely to come back to haunt you. Good luck!

My job requires me to drive clients around in my own car. I was in an auto accident while working. The accident was deemed my fault. My car was totaled. I am not physically injured. I only had regular liability insurance. Doesn’t my job have to help me pay for repairs that occurred on the job? My point is, I would if had not of have been working this accident wouldn’t of happened. Now I have no car and if I cant make it to work I can get fired. What are my rights?

Sorry to hear about your accident and the damage to your car. I am not aware of any legal requirement that would require your employer to assist you with the repair costs unless your employment contract has a specific provision requiring them to do so. An even bigger worry for me when I hear of people using their cars for work purposes is the fact that most auto policies expressly state that they do NOT provide coverage if the vehicle is being used for hire or work purposes. This means an insurance carrier can attempt to disclaim coverage saying your personal policy does not cover work-related activities. Accordingly, the best advice I can give people is that if you are going to use your car for work purposes, talk to your insurance agent and make sure to get something in writing saying your insurance coverage will apply if you get in an accident while working. I hate paying for insurance as much as anyone else but you want to make darn sure you have proper coverage when you need it! Better safe than sorry. Thanks for posting your question.

I was in a mva in April 2010, I was rearended by semi-truck while stopped in a construction zone,awaiting escort through blasting area. Trucker found at fault, out of Toronto Canada. had another law firm working on settlement, show no results. I have been out of work since the accident, and will not be going back to work injuries, physical and emmotinal total disabled. would you be able to get insurance company to pay? my nofault lost wages end in April 2012. SSD will not pay enough to live on for the 11 years of work life I would have had left if there had been no accident.

Sad to say but not all lawyers are willing to do the hard work necessary to aggressively pursue an injury lawsuit. Just because a lawyer has a flashy TV commercial or a big phone book ad, does not mean that they are willing to invest the huge amount of time and effort required. That’s why I think it is very important that injured people, really do their homework BEFORE hiring any lawyer– ask friends and neighbors, carefully review the attorney’s website, go and meet with the attorney and make sure you have a good feeling about the lawyer and their willingness to do the hard work necessary to do a good job for you. Ask tough questions of the lawyer– will you be personally handling my case or will my case be shuffled from lawyer to lawyer and paralegal to paralegal? What legal awards have you received? What results have you achieved? As to your particular case, if your lawyer is not properly representing you, you have a perfect legal right to fire that lawyer and take your case to another lawyer. Of course, that is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly and I would urge you to consult with the second attorney to make sure you are perfectly comfortable with them taking over your case. Changing horses in mid-stream may or may not be a good idea in your particular case and I would urge to you very carefully weigh all the pro’s and con’s of doing so BEFORE you make the change. I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, you can feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. Good luck!

With $26,000 in medical bills(paid by NY no fault inder my insurance) how much should the other insurance company offer to my lawyer for my settlement? The other driver is 100% at fault. He blew a stop sign and tboned me. I am a female, 24years old. $10,500 in auto damages paid by other driver insurance. I had rotator cuff surgery and did 6 months of physical therapy.

Unfortunately, there is no hard/fast rule or formula for the valuation of injury cases– every case is different and much of the value of the case is dependent on many different factors: – Are you represented by a lawyer and what is your lawyer’s reputation? A national study concluded that people represented by lawyers receive settlements 300% greater than unrepresented people. And yes, insurance companies know who the “good” lawyers are versus those lawyers who will take the first settlement offer. – The severity and permanency of any disabling injuries. Cases where someone is left with a significant, permanent impairment are worth more than cases where a person has fully recovered from their injuries. – Any liens. Many times there are liens (ie Medicare, health insurance, etc.) that need to be paid back out of a settlement. Sometimes those lien amounts can dramatically increase a settlement value because the client would have to pay them back. However, liens are very complicated and just because someone who has paid the bills say they have a right to be paid back, does NOT mean they are correct. For instance, in NY, a no-fault carries does NOT have a right to be paid back for the first $50,000 in benefits paid. Because liens are complicated, it is critical that you work with an experienced lawyer who knows the details of what liens are appropriate and what ones are wrong. So, for these reasons and many more, it is impossible to properly value a case unless you know every detail of that case because valuations can range very widely. Hope this helps and thanks for leaving your question which is a great one.

My 17 yr old son (only had his license 6 weeks) was in an accident while driving his friend’s car. He was in the car by himself — Making a left turn at a light. He was 2/3 of the way through the intersection when another driver hit him — on the front passenger corner of the car — just before the tire. Damage to the car he was driving includes headlight, quarter panel, bumper, radiator, etc. Damage to the other car is very similar — except to the drivers-side front. The police officer gave my son a ticket and said he failed to yield the right of way — since he was the one making the turn. But… if a driver is already 2/3 of the way through the turn/intersection (That’s where the car needed to be towed from so it is easy to see where he was when he was hit.) — (The other driver was able to continue driving and pulled over once she was through the intersection.) — then doesn’t the driver making the turn have the right away at that point??? I have many questions … Is there anything we can do to protest the police report? My son will plead “not guilty” to the ticket, but if the police report says he’s at fault.… isn’t that what the insurance companies will look at?? What will impact will this have on my son’s friend’s insurance? Will it have any impact on my insurance?

Generally, a left turning car has a legal obligation to NOT make the left turn unless it is safe to do so. In other words, the left turning car has the duty to yield the right of way to a car that is proceeding straight through the intersection. But as I said, this is the general rule and occasionally there are limited exceptions to the general rule. That’s why I would recommend that your son consult with an attorney who handles traffic tickets. Because our office normally limits our practice to representing the injured, we don’t normally handle traffic tickets unless a ticket was erroneously issued to one of our injured clients. As to your insurance questions, those would best be answered by your insurance agent as every insurance company has different rules and policies as to how they treat accidents. For instance, many companies do not increase insurance premiums for the first accident or the first ticket. So, the best bet is to check with your agent to see how your company treats these things. Good luck and I am glad your son wasn’t seriously injured.

I was in an accidient, I bumped ito the car in front of me. There was not much damage to my car but the other car had damage from a previous accidents that he might claim I did. The police were called and found out hat the other driver might not have a licence or insurance. He had no ID except a pay check stub and didn’t speek english. He did not know the insurance company, I believe he borrowed the car, another person came to the accident and translated to the police. Should I notify my insurance company or wait till they get notified from the other party? I do not know if they will claim the damage if he was not licenced or insured.

You should definitely report the accident to your carrier NOW. Most policies require a prompt notification of any accident so if you fail to promptly report the accident, your carrier might deny coverage. Clearly you don’t want that to happen so the best advice is to immediately report any accident. Good luck and I hope everything works out.

I bumped into someone at a light and gave him damage to his bumper. We agreed to take care of it myself. Saying its only 150 for the bumper. Now he claims there’s over 500 damage. His car is 20 yrs old and valued at only 1000. We never filed a police report or insurance claim. What can I do now I’m being harassed by him?

This is always a tough call. Your insurance policy requires you to promptly report all accidents and if you fail to do so, they can deny coverage. But many folks have high deductibles on their collision coverage (ie $500, $1,000) so they understandably don’t want to submit minor claims to their carrier as it may result in increased premiums. To complicate the decision, if it turns out that the other driver claims to be injured and they pursue an injury claim against you, your failure to promptly report the accident may serve as the basis for your carrier denying coverage on the injury claim. So, the safest thing to do– and the one I recommend– is to promptly report ALL accidents to your carrier. Better safe than sorry. But in your situation, since that was not already done, my advice is to just pay the $500 and be done with it. But make sure to have the other driver sign something saying that he is accepting the payment of the $500 in settlement of all claims he may have as a result of the collision. Like I said, better safe than sorry!

I was stopped behind a car making a left hand turn when I was rear ended. My wife was a passenger in my car. We pulled off and made a claim with Geico (we both have the same insurance carrier) and the other driver admitted fault. We did not call the police, however we did take pictures of the damage (The sides of the bumper were coming out and it was dented in the back, turns out the entire bumper and metal frame for the bumper needs to be replaced). My back has hurt alot since then, but it was diagnosed at the Urgent Care, and later at the ER as soft tissue damage. No X-Rays have been done with regards to my back. My wife has whip lash and was recently taken out of work for two days. She is in a probationary period at work and may lose her job, they are currently discussing it. I live in NY and the No-Fault laws here are confusing as to whether or not I can sue, but if my wife loses her job then we are facing a life changing event since I cannot afford all the bills on my own. Do I have a case?

Richard: The answer to your question “Do I have a case” is “Maybe”. I am not trying to be cute but in NY you can only bring a personal injury lawsuit due to a car crash if you have suffered what the law defines as a “serious injury”. I have actually written a small book explaining what constitutes a serious injury and I will ask my ace paralegal Karen to send you a copy ASAP. In the meantime, I would suggest you give Karen a call at 800–943-3529 and Karen can walk you through most of what you need to know. Another amazing lawyer is this one here. We would be happy to represent you or your wife if it turns out you have the necessary qualifying injury. Thanks, Jim

I signaled to turn left and there was a taxi which stopped for me to let me do my turn and while i was turning the traffic light turned yellow and the taxi driver didn’t want to stand for the red light so he speed up and hit me in the back of my car. I don’t know what will the police report would decide who is the mistaken in this situation ?

It is always tough to predict exactly who the police will ticket in this situation but the fact that the taxi hit the rear of your car should be very helpful to you as rear-ender collisions are almost always the fault of the rear-ending driver because the general rule is that a driver should have their car under control at all times. I would recommend that you politely speak with the investigating office to provide your version of how the collision occurred. If any witness can confirm your version that the taxi driver waived you through the turn, make sure that witness also talks to the police office. Hope this helps and good luck!

I was in a accident when a driver turned left in front of me when i had the right of way. She was issued a ticket for failute to yeild ad the police were right there when it happened, Her insurance is being slow to accept the claim and have said they dont base a claim on a police report, In this instance where there was a ticket issued. Is it more likely that the claim will be decided in my favor by her insurance company?

While it is logical that an insurance company would more readily accept responsibility for a crash where a ticket was issued to their insured driver, unfortunately insurance company’s often fail to act logically and contest even clear cases of liability. Frankly, these insurance companies are betting that most people won’t bother to make a stink so they can get away with denying otherwise legitimate claims. That’s why I tell anyone who is injured in an accident do NOT believe the insurance carrier when they say they will “take care of you without you having to get a lawyer” because 99% of the time they are just delaying the denial of your claim long enough that all of the evidence dries up. That’s why you need to hire a lawyer ASAP so they can gather the evidence and protect your rights. Most injury lawyers do not charge for the initial consultation so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by consulting with a lawyer ASAP. Good luck!

I was in a car accident Sunday that resulted in leaving the scene in ambulance and car was totaled. A man who “was believed to have been in diabetic shock” (per the police report) hit me from behind/driver rear at 70+ mi per hr. The impact sent the car through another lane and broke through a barrier and we slid about 30ft. There was no insurance information collected from him and it seems the driver wasn’t the registered owner of the car. I want to make sure our medical bills and replacement for another auto is taken care of. The ER didn’t do any exams when I arrived at the hospital even though I complained of my head hurting. What if I find out later that I will need additional tests on my head…I want to make sure it will be included in the payout as well.

Sorry to hear about your accident. I hope you have reported this accident to the insurance company for the car you were in. Under NY law, insurance coverage for your medical bills and lost wages is provided by the insurance carrier for the car you were in. You should also talk to an injury lawyer to determine if you might have an action for your injuries. Good luck and let us know if we can help.

Hello i was driving my company car going back to base at traffic i was rear ended by two cars , well a taxy-tlc. suv hit a minivan and the minivan hit the car i was driving . the suv and mini van didnt want to file a police report they said they will settled them selfs. and left the scene i took pictures of the plates numbers before they left . i call the police to make a police report and the officer that came to the scene didnt want to include the other cars in the police report . now i have lower back pain 2 bad disks . shoulder problems as of doc. i might need surgury . and stiff neck . what can i do and what should i do . company i work is aware of accident and injuries …

Sorry to hear about your crash. Long story short, I think it is a BAD idea not to report every collision to the police. I understand that people always say they “want to work it out on our own” to avoid insurance premium increases but more often than not this backfires when someone reneges on their promise to “do the right thing”. Accordingly, my strong advice is to ALWAYS report the collision to BOTH the police AND your insurance company. In your situation, things are going to get very complicated so I urge you to contact an experienced injury attorney ASAP as you are definitely going to need help straightening this out. Good luck and let me know if we can help.

I was in a mva and hit a police cruiser who turned in front of me. He was not going to a call and had no lights or sirens. He was found at fault and failure to yield the right of way. Insurance company for the town is taking 100% responsibility. I was hurt, but soft tissue, bruising, neck, back and burns as well as bad chest contusions. Taking me over a month to move without hurting terrible. $8000 in my vehicle damages, medical etc… They found him at fault but didn’t give him a ticket. How is this right? If i had been at fault i would have been ticketed. It really makes me angry that he was so negligent and gets away with it. Also, will i get offered a settlement for my pain and suffering above the costs of my vehicle to get repaired etc… Thanks

Frankly, it isn’t right that a ticket wasn’t issued to the officer if he was clearly at fault in causing a collision but welcome to the wonderful world of “it may not be right, but that’s the way it is”. My best advice is to promptly retain an experienced injury lawyer as I can tell you from personal experience, that your case against a police officer will not go smoothly. Heck, for three years I have been fighting a case where my client was REARENDED by a cop ON HIS CELL PHONE, and yet the insurance carrier is still jerking my chain. Luckily we are jerking back but hard but my point is that you need someone helping you that knows what they are doing. Good luck!

Yesterday I was in a vehicle that experienced an accident. Another driver had failed to obey the Yield sign at an intersection and as a result we hit her. The woman knew that it was entirely her fault, however I have heard that in NYS, if you are moving you automatically take 20% of the fault. Is that true? Or will she be entirely at fault?

Sorry to hear about your accident and hope no one was seriously hurt. As to your question about fault, there is NOT any automatic finding that you were 20% at fault just because you were moving at the time of the collision. Frankly, if any insurance adjuster tries to tell you that they are absolutely incorrect. I hope everything works out OK and the carrier rightfully accepts 100% liability.

I was involved in a 3 vehicle accident. All three cars were on the highway, vehicle 1 and my vehicle (2) stopped for traffic, vehicle 3 hit me from behind and pushed me forward causing my vehicle to hit vehicle 1 (also stated similarly on police report). The front of my car appeared a lot more damaged than the rear, and basically the car was considered totaled. I put in a claim through vehicle 3’s insurance, and after three weeks of going back and forth, even though it states on the police report that car 1+2 stopped and 3 caused the collision, they said they did not have enough evidence to accept full liability. Vehicle 3’s insurance will only cover 50% of damages. The insurance company said they couldn’t get in touch with vehicle 1 for a statement (vehicle 1 was an unmarked police vehicle), so there is nothing more they can do and explained according to NYS law, in 3 car accidents the middle and 3rd vehicles may be responsible for shared liability, and that is the case here. Is that true? Is there anything more I can do to claim full amount including tow and rental expenses?

This is a tough question to answer because there is a big difference between what an insurance company SHOULD do and what they will ACTUALLY do. The insurance carrier for car #3, the one that rearended you, SHOULD pay 100% and stop all this nonsense. However, the carrier is permitted to make ridiculous arguments while hoping that you will just give up and accept their lousy 50% offer. If I was you, I would do two things: First, I would file a complaint with the NY Dept of Insurance for this carrier’s unfair claims adjusting practice. Second, I would sue the driver & owner of car #3 for the full amount of my property damage. Depending upon the amount of your property damage, you may be able to sue in Small Claims Court (usually up to $5,000) or in County Court (over $5,000). A great resource for people who are not represented by lawyers is which is a website run by New York State. On this site you can find information regarding courts, the law, and free court forms. They have a great Frequently Asked Questions section at: . I am truly sorry to hear this insurance carrier is jerking you around and I hope you fight back. Good luck!

my 18 year son bumped into a car on 2/6/14. I tried (mother) settle the matter between the other person and my son, without the police getting involved, but she insisted she wanted a police report. I agreed to pay for the damage which wasn’t not even $100.She called the police and got her report. She said she just wanted the police report in case we didn’t pay for her damage, but should i trust this person? She filed a accident report with the police and I believe the police has to do the same with the DMV of NYC. My son is uninsured, he was driving his dad’s car which is also under my ex name, but my son had his dad permission to drive his car as a matter or fact my ex gave the car to my son. I didn’t put my son on my policy because it was way to much for me and i am going through financial hardship because of my divorce

Sorry to hear about your son’s collision and your own financial difficulties because of your divorce but I have to be honest that the other lady handled the situation as I would have instructed her because I think it is ALWAYS a good idea to report an accident to the police because failure to do so can cause huge problems with your own insurance carrier. If the car your son was driving was insured by your ex, then your son, as a driver with the permission of the owner, is covered under the insurance on the car. But be careful if your son is driving your car without being named as an additional driver as the insurance carrier could deny coverage if he wrecks your car. As a father of three kids, I hate paying insurance premiums but failing to have proper coverage for your kids could kill you financially if they cause a bad crash. Sorry to be the bearer of this tough news, but better warned than expose yourself to losing everything. Good luck.

My son and I were walking home one evening(daylight) July 5, 2013 I was pushing my dirt bike. My son was further off the road in our neighbors yard.We were 60 yards away from home.While on a curve that slows down to 25 mph no trees or anything to block signs to let you know curve and 25mph.I was hit by an small SUV (highlander). Which turned out to be my neighbor. I broke my ankle (4 months)cast and road rash down my back to top of butt and blackout for short period. I was told by neighbor the dirt bike landed on my son he had a burn on his back that my wife cared due to being a nurse.My neighbor gave me his insurance info to take care damages. I have a lawyer and court is suppose to be soon that’s all I have been told. I missed out of work. I’m capable of work now but still off. Due to job losing contract during. Hospital bills and other bills caught up with me. How much longer do you think?

Sorry but I can’t tell you how much longer because that is a question only your lawyer can answer. Have you asked them and what have you been told?

I was on a highway and signaled right to get on the exiting lane. The car behind me was far when i checked. I was struck by the car when i got into the lane. His front driverside bumper hit my back passenger side wheel, both doors on that same side and scrathes to thr bumber next to that wheel. Who is at fault? My car spun out of control. Whos as fault? Happened in NY

Unfortunately, it is tough to give a black and white answer to this question because this is a situation where both you and the other driver have what I expect are vastly different versions of what occurred. The other driver will claim that you abruptly pulled into his lane without warning and that you struck him. You say that the other driver essentially rear-ended you. When you have these “he said/she said” situations, our system uses a judge or a jury to hear both versions and make a decision about whose version seems more credible. Just curious, were you ticketed? Was the other driver ticketed? If so, who got what tickets?

I rear ended car last night. She signaled me to pull on a parking lot. We exchanged insurance info and she said she would be calling her insurance later. No police, she wasn’t the listed driver, minor damage to the bumper (cracked), and no damage to my van. I just received and email from All State after 24 hours the claim was made. I didn’t let State Farm know. Should I be contacting them? What will happen to me? My insurance will cover it even with no police reports? I live in NY.

Whether the collision was your fault or not, you should ALWAYS report the collision to your insurance carrier. Failing to promptly notify your carrier could result in the carrier denying coverage which would leave you uninsured and personally on the hook for any claimed expenses or damages. So play it safe and report the accident to your carrier ASAP. I also recommend to all motorists that they report all collisions to police because there are some carriers who will deny all coverage if there is not a police accident report confirming the collision. Good luck and hope this helps.

I was in a one car roll over accident I hit a patch of black ice while going 40 to 45 mph I live in upstate ny the officer that was there said ny state law requires him to issue a ticket for a one car auto accident I got a ticket for speed imprudent for the road conditions is this ny state law ? and what do I tell the D/A to get this foolish ticket dropped ?

These tickets are tough because technically you are required to have your vehicle under control at ALL TIMES. Accordingly, the explanation that you suddenly encountered black ice without warning isn’t a valid defense to this ticket. However, and thankfully, many prosecutors will take the circumstances of your situation into account and will consider things like you have a clean driving record to often cut you a deal. So my advice is to very kindly reach out to the ADA and see if you can nicely persuade him/her that you should be cut a break. Good luck.

I was involved in a collision with a police car on 29 Jan 14. The officer driving police car went thru the red light with no flashing light and siren on and damaged completely the front of my car which cannot be salvageable anymore. the police lied on their report, and we cannot locate with sate insurance deal with the NYS police collision cases. What can i do now?

Unfortunately, my experience in dealing with crashes involving police cars has always been difficult so my suggestion is to always retain an experienced car crash lawyer ASAP as these cases are complicated and not the type you can try to handle on your own. Sorry but that is my best advice.

I was in a minor accident about a year ago. I had bumped someone from behind and they bumped into their friend in front of them. The car I hit had no damage, she had stated the damage that was there had been from an accident that she was in a few days before, but the person in front of her had minor scratches on his car. So we all agreed that I would pay him and that he would sign a paper that he could not come after me anymore. My question is that middle car that I initially hit, can she come after me now? Even though she stated that nothing was wrong and that she had been in a major accident just days prior?

Yes, the driver of the middle car that you rear-ended could come after you so you. Sorry to be the bearer of that bad news. I hope you already notified your insurance company of the accident because if you have done so they will be able to provide you with a defense and settle this claim if appropriate. Good luck.

my daughter 26, was in an accident driving her boyfriends car totaling his SUV. he is 30yrs old..My daughter went to the ER for help and was taken care of .her back still hurts her but she is dealing with it.. At first the Boyfriend said his mom who had the policy wouldnt notify the of the accident. Then he said she did and everything was ok.we received a bill which my daughter gave to him to handle but now we are still getting bills and can get no information from the boyfriend relative to no fault in do I get the hospital to bill no fault?

If your daughter knows his insurance carrier, she should call and file her own NF claim as I wonder if the boyfriend’s mom actually filed a claim or not. Either way, it can’t hurt to file her own claim. She can get the claim forms and learn about NY NF here: Good luck!

my husband was rearended in 6/2012. we did not hire lawyer. the ins. company for man at fault wants us to sign off and asked us if we hired a lawyer? He is still seeing a chiropractor for injury from accident. Not sure what to do. Is it too late to hire a lawyer in NYS, and should we sign the papers.

I think it is ALWAYS a good idea to consult with an experienced injury lawyer BEFORE you sign off. Most injury lawyers offer free consultations and it’s a good idea to be informed about your legal rights before signing a document that will forever end your rights to recover. Better to be safe than sorry. Good luck!

I clipped a parked car’s mirror a couple days ago. I called the police who contacted the owner then observed myself and owner agree to handle it ourselves. No report was filed although, I imagine the officer had to fill out one of her won for having had to come out. Owner has contacted me post-estimate with her garage and requested a check for $280 which I’ve agreed is perfectly reasonable. How at this point do I protect myself against owner trying to come after me later for additional monies?

I am glad you were able to work things out. Before handing over your settlement check, you should have the other driver sign a Property Damage Release (I will email you a form privately) that essentially says that for the payment of $280 they are releasing any and all claims they may have for property damage. Good luck!

I was in a car accident back in 2003 in Brooklyn, NY. Just last year I was told by my lawyer that arbitration denied my case. How do I find out if this is true or the lawyer kept the money. Thank You!

You should ask the lawyer for written confirmation of the arbitration decision.

My van was totaled by a driver who was driving a “Bio Reference Lab” car. That driver was an employee of that company. She has run a stop sign and sped like crazy as well. I was clearly not at fault. However, their insurance company “Liberty Mutual” made me an offer which I could not accept. They said that I had to accept 25% liability if I want to settle. Should I sue the driver, Bio Reference Lab, Liberty Mutual, or all of them?

Normally we sue BOTH the owner and driver of the car as both have legal responsibility (lawyers call it “liability”) for the collision. Even though the insurance company is not directly sued in the usual scenario, they will come in to provide a defense to both the owner and driver. Good luck!

I made a mistake in my no-fault insurance claim. 30-days after accident just passed. Can I still make changes? How do I do it? I answered no for time lost from work when I did actually lost time for physical therapy treatments and also I answered no for question regarding additional expenses when I actually do have prescription receipt & wanted to claim medical mileage. What do I need to do? Please help.

As long as the original application was submitted within 30 days, you should be able to correct your application without a big problem. My advice is to send a letter (Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested) documenting the corrections. Make sure to keep a copy of your letter and the mailing receipt with your records for the collision. You should be fine. Good luck!

I was in a car accident and I don’t have insurance or license and it wasn’t my fault said the police cause the person ran the red light do I have a for sure chance of winning a lawsuit

When you drive without a license and without insurance it is NEVER a good thing but those facts do not prevent you from trying to prove that the actual reason for the collision was the fact that the other car ran a red light. Like proof of any fact, it is important that you secure all evidence that tends to prove that fact (witness statements, photos of the scene or skid marks, any local video surveillance that might show the intersection, etc.). Good luck.

I was in a mva and my question is if I sue the person who hit me and am awarded a settlement … Am I by law required to pay back the insuance who paid my medical bills from the accident ?

That is a GREAT question. Unfortunately, the answer can be very complicated depending upon who paid your medical bills. In NY, if your auto insurance carrier paid the medical bills then generally they do NOT get paid back unless the medical bills and lost wages they have paid for you are more than $50,000. $50,000 is the NY minimum for no-fault insurance coverage which covers your medical bills, lost wages, and some miscellaneous expenses. So that is good news IF your car insurance carrier paid the med bills and you live in NY or a state with similar laws. However, the answer becomes much more complicated if you live in another state that permits a carrier to request reimbursement (also called subrogation) or if some other entity (ie Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance) pays the bill because they MAY (or may NOT) be entitled to reimbursement. Because the laws are so complicated in trying to determine if a subrogation claim is legitimate or not, I strongly urge you to consult with an experienced car crash lawyer who can steer you right and make sure you don’t pay back an improper reimbursement claim. Thanks for the great question and good luck with your case!