Not all motor vehicle accidents are harmless fender-benders. Many are major collisions that result in serious injury and even death, forever changing the lives of the victims and their loved ones. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 1,039 New Yorkers were killed in car crashes in 2014, and injury totals were even higher.
Leading causes of motor vehicle accidents
There are multiple factors that can result in a car accident. Common causes include:
- Improper lane changes
- Dangerous driving conditions due to poor visibility or slippery roads
- Distracted driving (e.g. texting while driving)
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Failure to obey traffic signs and signals
- Failure of brakes, tires, engines, and other vehicle components
Figuring out what caused the collision will help determine who the at-fault parties are when it comes time to seek compensation and damages for injuries and/or death.
Types of injuries sustained
The types of injuries received in a car accident will vary depending on factors like the following:
- Travel speed of the car the victim was riding in
- Position and location of the victim at the time of impact
- Impact force and area (e.g. head-on collision, rear-ended, etc)
- Whether or not seat belts and/or airbags were used
The most common injuries in motor vehicle accidents involve the spine: herniated discs, nerve damage, and other injuries that result in constant pain and limited motion. Medical treatment and rehabilitation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so anyone hurt in a collision should retain an experienced New York motor vehicle accident attorney to help them obtain compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses: Includes past, present, and future costs for emergency and rehabilitative treatment, hospital stays, medications, assistive devices, and more.
- Pain and suffering: The amount awarded is determined by the nature of the victimâ€™s injuries and how long it will likely take for them to recover.
- Lost income: All income lost between the time of the accident and the conclusion of the lawsuit. Even if the injured party was not working at the time, they can still claim lost wages if they can demonstrate that they had the potential to earn.
- Diminished earning capacity: If the injuries impacted a personâ€™s ability to work, they may receive additional damages.
- Loss of consortium: A spouse can claim damages caused by loss of companionship, support, sexual intimacy, and other personal connection due to their loved oneâ€™s injuries.
In New York, motor vehicle accident injury claims tend to be processed under the No-Fault Insurance system, which will pay up to $50,000 to cover financial losses for lost wages and medical expenses. (Victims are eligible to have only 80% of their lost earnings reimbursed, or a maximum of $2,000 a month.) This capped coverage does not take pain, suffering or mental anguish into account and can be completely inadequate for victims of serious and/or permanent injuries.
A New York motor vehicle accident attorney will advocate for their client by retaining forensic experts to support the case as well as medical personnel and rehabilitation professionals who can explain the severity and extent of the victimâ€™s injuries to the court. The ideal outcome will be an award that gives the client and their family the compensation they need to maximize recovery and improve the future.