Automobile Accidents

Leonick Law represents accident victims, whether they happen to you as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist. We handle cases involving all of these different types and have experience in managing the intricacies that affect how the cases are later evaluated before we commence litigation.

When it comes to automobile accidents, whether you are a driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, or bicyclist, you’re entitled to no-fault benefits. In the State of New York, no-fault benefits provide insurance coverage to pay medical bills and losses. The basic limit on all policies in the state of New York is $50,000. That’s a combined limit for both medical and wages. You can have additional coverage on your policy and many people do, which may add an additional $50,000, $100,000, or more to this limit.

It’s important in the first 30 days of an automobile accident to file a no-fault application with the correct insurance company. In most situations, the vehicle that you occupied will be responsible for no-fault payments, regardless of who caused that accident. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist, the vehicle that hit you will pay. Motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault and must rely upon other forms of insurance, such as their health insurance and disability policy.The insurer has an obligation to pay the your medical bills and some or all of your lost wages, depending upon the available coverage . There are various documents that are part of the application which involve establishing proof of injury and disability, confirming that you have uncompensated, lost time from work. We assist clients by helping them prepare these documents and file them in a timely manner.

If we determine that the accident involved a vehicle that was uninsured, there is a process through either your own insurance policy or the one that covered the vehicle you occupied or a state-run corporation called MVAIC, which stands for Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. All automobile insurance policies in New York State include coverage for UM/SUM claims (uninsured/underinsured). MVAIC, on the other hand, is a pooling of money and resources that all insurance companies and all of us as insured vehicle owners fund for the victims in uninsured accidents. This is sort of a stop gap. If a pedestrian were to get hit by a vehicle only to find out that the insurance has lapsed on that vehicle, and that pedestrian does not own an insured motor vehicle, it provides a mechanism for the pedestrian to still get basic no-fault benefits through MVAIC.

In addition to no-fault paperwork, we also assist clients with disability paperwork. They may have a short-term disability coverage through work or their own private disability policy. Information and applications have to be provided to access those benefits. If it appears that an injured party will be unable to work for upward of a year or more, we also assist them in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits for long term disability situations.

Once we get past the initial applications for benefits then we assist clients in filing their accident reports with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. We also review the case ourselves through the use of investigators to obtain photographs of vehicles, the accident location, and to get statements from witnesses. Cases generally take anywhere from six months to three or four years depending upon the:

  • Issues involved;
  • Injuries involved;
  • The number of parties involved;
  • Insurance companies involved; and
  • Availability of insurance coverages.

Venue

The court process itself is determined by the number of parties that are involved. The different venues where we work include Westchester, the five boroughs of New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. The court’s backlog of cases is different depending on which county or borough the case is in, which in turn has an effect on how quickly the case can be moved along. The court process itself is determined by the number of parties that are involved. The different venues where we work include Westchester, the five boroughs of New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. The court’s backlog of cases is different depending on which county or borough the case is in, which in turn has an effect on how quickly the case can be moved along.

Serious Injury

Bringing an automobile accident case involves dealing with the New York State no-fault threshold, the no-fault threshold provides more criteria that injured parties need to prove in order to show that they have a “serious injury.” If you cannot prove that you have a “serious injury,” as defined by New York State Insurance Law, then you are not entitled to a recovery.

Serious Injury Threshold Article 51 of the Insurance Law provides that a plaintiff in a personal injury action arising out of negligence in the use or operation of a motor vehicle must establish that he/she has incurred a basic economic loss exceeding $50,000 or must establish that he/she has suffered “serious injury”. Insurance Law § 5104(a), (b). Serious injury is defined as personal injury which results in one of the following:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
  • Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

The defendants and their insurance company will use this law to deny settlements to those who are not “seriously injured”. We review your medical records and discuss your injuries, lost time from work, and disabilities to analyze whether you meet the “serious injury” criteria and advocate zealously for your right to a recovery.

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