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Auto Injury Lawyer Bronx

7 Secrets to Maximizing Your New York Auto Accident Award

By Bryan J. Hutchinson

Car Accident Attorney | What's My Case Worth?

What's My Auto Injury Case Worth?

Factors that Determine Auto Injury Case Value

Have an experienced auto injury lawyer Bronx, NY at the Law Office of Bryan J. Hutchinson give you a free case evaluation. Insurance companies have attorneys working on their side, so you need someone that knows the law on yours. The Law Office of Bryan J. Hutchinson works on your side as a car accident attorney and personal injury attorney.

As an auto injury lawyer in the Bronx, I am often asked by clients at the intake stage of their case, "how much money am I going to receive for my injuries?" I am forced to say,"it depends on the facts and circumstances of your case." Then I get the look of disappointment because they did not receive a definitive answer. There are numerous factors that determine the value of a car or truck accident case. They include but are not limited to:

  • the liability of the other driver;
  • the seriousness of the injury;
  • the existence of prior injuries;
  • the amount of insurance coverage available;
  • the claimant's criminal history;
  • the existence of prior lawsuits;
  • the claimant's future medical needs;
  • the role of claimant as passenger, driver or pedestrian;
  • the claimant's loss of income or wages; and
  • the credibility of the claimant if called as a witness.

Liability of the Other Driver in the Car Accident
In order to recover for your personal injury you must prove that another party owed you a duty, the other party breached the duty, the breach of the duty was a proximate cause of your injuries and you have suffered damages. If liability is clear cut then you are one step closer to recovering for your injuries.

Seriousness of the Car Accident Injury
New York does not allow you to sue and recover for all auto accident injuries. New York has established a No-Fault auto accident system to provide medical care and compensation for lost wages during a period of disability. In order to sue and recover for your injuries you must have a serious injury. Insurance Law ยง 5102(d) defines a "serious injury" as:

  • "a personal injury which results in death;
  • dismemberment;
  • significant disfigurement;
  • a fracture;
  • loss of a fetus;
  • permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
  • permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
  • significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
  • a 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 ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment."

Injuries Prior to the Car Accident
The existence of prior injuries may limit the amount that is recovered for your current injuries. Your current car or truck accident may have only aggravated a prior existing injury.

Amount of Car Accident Insurance Coverage Available
The amount of insurance coverage that the negligent driver carriers may limit the amount of money that is available for you to recover for your injuries. This does not mean that your damages are capped at the policy limits. For example, you may have an injury that is worth $100,000; however, if all the applicable insurance policy available is $50,000, then your money award from the driver's policy is limited to the policy amount of $50,000. There may be other policies available that can recover for your injuries. You may also have to look towards your policy's bodily injury coverage if it is higher than the negligent driver's own policy. You are also free to pursue the negligent driver or owner personally for the difference if you obtain a judgment for $100,000.

Criminal History and Your Car Accident Injury
You may be thinking what does my criminal history have to do with getting hurt in a car accident? If you have a criminal history that relates to your character for truth and veracity, this is a legitimate area for cross examination by the defense counsel. Consequently, this is a consideration that you and I would discuss and weigh the cost and benefit of going to trial. It is always best if there is bad news that you and I bring it out on your direct examination. This way we can share with the jurors that you made a mistake in your life. A mistake that you regret having made and you are sorry for having committed the crime against society. As an auto injury lawyer, we will demonstrate to the jurors that you are a good person who has paid his debt to society. More importantly, we will demonstrate that you are a rehabilitated person who has made a better life for yourself and your family.

However, if you fail to tell me of your criminal past and the defense lawyer brings it out on cross examination then you and I will look like we were trying to fool the jurors. In addition, we would not have been prepared to lessen the blow that the defense attorney will try to inflict upon your reputation. Jurors do not trust people who try to hide things from them. They may think that you are trying to get over on the system and will punish you with their verdict.

Prior Lawsuits and Your Auto Injury
If you sued for the same type of auto injury in the same body part or body function then your recovery may be limited. If you have multiple lawsuits against multiple defendants for various bodily injuries then it can reasonably be inferred that you may be a litigious person. That is why it is especially important that you disclose all your prior injuries and lawsuits. If you fail to disclose your prior lawsuits and it is disclosed for the first time at trial then both you and I will be taken by surprise and placed in a disadvantaged situation. More importantly, the jurors may think that you are faking your injuries and should not be trusted by the legal system. You should always disclose your prior lawsuits so that we are prepared for any argument that the defense lawyer can bring up in court.

Future Medical Needs
You can recover for your future medical expenses if you can demonstrate that there will be continuing medical care as a result of your car accident injuries. Based on the advice and opinion of your medical and economic experts we will be able to determine your future medical expenses.

Your Role as Passenger, Driver or Pedestrian
A passenger is generally not responsible for the negligence of the driver. A passenger is entitled to assume that the driver will follow the rules of the road. However, if the passenger has knowledge that the driver does not have the knowledge, skills or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating the vehicle, this will be a factor that the jurors will consider in determining whether the passenger was also negligent. For example, if you are a passenger in a car and know or have reason to know that the driver who is driving at an excessive speed is impaired then you are under a duty to take action to protect yourself from injury. Therefore, you must demand that the driver let you out of the car without unnerving or panicking the driver. You cannot just sit there and let an impaired person cause an accident. If you were a passenger and you were not wearing your seat belt this will be a factor in determining the amount of damages. The failure to wear a seat belt is not considered in determining liability.

Pedestrians are also required to follow the rules of the road. They must obey traffic signals and take care crossing the streets and look out for automobiles.

Loss of Income or Wages
The No-Fault insurance company is required to pay 80% of your lost earnings up to a maximum of $2,000 per month. You are eligible to receive No-Fault insurance benefits for lost earnings for up to three years from the date of the accident. However, this is subject to the $50,000 limitation of benefits for medical, remedial and healthcare expenses. Therefore, the length of time for your lost wages is being reduced by the amount of medicals that you consume. If you have suffered a serious injury you can sue to recovery for future lost earning not covered by the No-Fault insurance company.

Witness Credibility
Your credibility and the credibility of your lay witnesses and experts are essential to your car or truck accident case. At the initial phase of your case you should not worry too much about the value. No two personal injury cases are alike and each case must be valued based on its own merit. If you approach the case with some preconceived notion that you should receive a particular amount of money without a full medical history and report, and the defendant's coverage you may be disappointed in the ultimate outcome of your case.

The best thing to do at the early stage of the case is to keep all your appointments with your treating physician, keep a medical diary and meticulously detail your rehabilitation and work on recovering from your injuries. Remember to keep copies of all receipts, prescriptions, prescription bottles or containers. Do not discuss your case with your friends, co-workers or neighbors.

The insurance company is free to talk to your friends, neighbors and co-workers and use your statements against you at trial. Remember, if your case goes to trial it's all about you and whether or not you are an honest and trustworthy person. The worst thing you want is to have someone you trust and confided in come to court and testify that you were bragging about how much money you are going to receive and what you are going to buy.

Do not exaggerate your auto injuries. If you claim that you are experiencing pain in a particular part of your body when you are not experiencing any pain, it reduces your credibility about the part of your body that really hurts. It is unfortunate to say, but most people believe that there are a lot of accident victims who exaggerate or completely fake their injuries. Do not give the jurors or judge any reason to distrust or dislike you and undermine your case. You want to work on your recovery and let your family, friends and co-workers know that you are not a whiner but a go getter who is determined to work hard to recover from a tragedy.

Personal Injury Experts
In addition to the above factors, there are expert reports and testimony that must be factored into the case. Generally, a personal injury case will involve experts such as medical expert, vocational expert, and economist.

Medical Experts
Depending on the nature of your truck accident or car accident you may need a medical expert including but not limited to a chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon, and neurologist to testify on your behalf as to the nature of your injury.

Vocational Expert
A vocational expert is generally a vocational rehabilitation specialist who will testify as to the skills, training and experience necessary for you to re-enter the job market. They may testify as to how the injury has limited or prevented you from continuing your current profession or from obtaining future employment. They will also testify on cost and time associated with your retraining. Retraining will be determined by different assessment tools used to gather information on your strengths and weaknesses.

Economic Expert
An economist or certified public account is generally needed to explain to the court and jury how the injury will affect future income and medical expenses.

When you have been injured in a car accident, you need experiencedcar accident attorney Bronx at the Law Office of Bryan J. Hutchinson (718) 671-0900.

Call Top Car Accident Attorney Bronx (718) 671-0900