Auto / Motorcycle Accidents in New York State

The volume of automobile and motorcycle traffic on our roads continues to grow each year. With that growth in volume comes a higher likelihood that you may be involved in an accident.

You will need to understand many complicated issues and you’ll want to have a trusted partner supporting you through this difficult time. The personal injury lawyers at LaMarche Safranko Law  can help. We are experienced personal injury attorneys that know how to represent you. We’ll bring our nationally recognized reputation, legal knowledge and experience, and client compassion to your case as we guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.

Commonly asked auto/motorcycle-related questions and answers

Please note that while the information below may address some scenarios, New York state laws are complex and each case has its own unique circumstances. Your specific facts should be thoroughly reviewed in detail with a qualified personal injury attorney.

I’ve been in an accident, what do I do now?

If it’s a relatively minor accident, remain calm and move your vehicle out of the way of traffic if possible. Assess any injuries you or a passenger may have and contact 911 if necessary. You should contact the police so that an officer can investigate what happened and prepare a police accident report. You should identify any other vehicles involved, including the make, model, and license plate number. Use your phone to take photos and video of the scene, capturing any damage, the positions of the vehicles if possible, and street signs to identify the location. These items will be important in determining what happened.

If the accident is major, and you are capable, you should turn your engine off, move the vehicle out of the way if possible, and call 911. If you smell smoke or see flames, leave the vehicle immediately.

Regarding information you should provide at the scene, you may wish to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s), but if you prefer, you may also wait for the police to arrive and conduct the investigation. Everyone’s emotions are running high, and the scene of the crash is not the place to litigate the case and assign blame. The police will fill out a report and take statements from all drivers. Keep in mind that talking to the police at the scene could incriminate you if you are at fault, so you have the right to remain silent and wait to speak with an attorney before providing a statement about what happened.

How do I know if I need an attorney?

If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, especially if injuries have occurred, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. There are many complexities involved in auto/motorcycle accidents and you’ll want to ensure your rights are protected. Other complicated details involve pursuing legal action if you are the victim of negligence. Depending on the type of accident, and who the accident is with, there are time limits and deadlines on your potential legal action. If you miss these legal deadlines, you may miss out on recovery.

Dealing with insurance companies is another difficult aspect of the case for which you’ll want guidance. Keep in mind that the insurance company for the other motorist is interested in limiting their exposure, and the result may not be to your advantage. An attorney can advocate on your behalf.

Your attorney should serve as a trusted source of support and counsel for you during this difficult time. At LaMarche Safranko Law, we want our clients to focus on healing—physically and emotionally—while we focus on the case. We immediately begin collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, determining fault and liability, filing the necessary documents to initiate a lawsuit, negotiating settlements and ultimately protecting your rights.

We will guide you through the no-fault system and, if you qualify, help you obtain immediate benefits.

Do I need to report the accident to DMV?

If there is damage caused to the vehicle in excess of $1,000, or a fatality, a DMV accident report is required to be filed within 10 days of the accident. It is important that you speak with an attorney before completing and submitting the form.

If a driver rear-ends my motorcycle, who is at fault?

The driver who collides with you from behind is almost always at fault, as it is a basic rule of the road that drivers must keep enough distance from vehicles in front of them to stop safely if traffic stops. The driver’s insurance company might argue that your negligence contributed to the crash if you changed lanes suddenly, merged unsafely into traffic, had no brake lights, or failed to move your vehicle off the road after a mechanical failure.

If I am at fault, will I lose my driver’s license?

While tickets can be issued at the scene, licenses would not be taken at the scene. If the accident turns out to be very serious, such as a DWI, tickets would be issued, a court appearance would be scheduled, and any license revocation or suspension would be addressed at that time. In the case of a fatal accident, DMV can conduct its own administrative hearing into the crash to determine if the motorist should lose their license. That hearing could take months from the time of the accident, so if the court did not initially suspend or revoke the license, the motorist could retain their license until the DMV hearing.

What is the No-Fault Law?

The purpose of New York state’s No-Fault Law is to speed compensation without lengthy and expensive legal battles over who was at fault and what money is owed. The law allows for compensation to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians for basic economic loss up to $50,000. Legitimate expenses could include medical costs, lost wages, and all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, up to $25 dollars per day.

How do I claim No-Fault benefits?

To claim No-Fault benefits, you must contact the insurance carrier of the car you were in when the accident occurred as soon as possible after the accident. Many people mistakenly think the insurance for the car that caused the accident is supposed to pay. You must send an Application for Motor Vehicle No-Fault Benefits form to the insurer of the car you were in when the accident occurred within 30 calendar days after the accident.

A person may be excluded from coverage if they:

  • were driving while intoxicated
  • intentionally caused the accident
  • are injured while committing a felony
  • drove a stolen vehicle
  • drove an ATV or motorcycle
  • drove an uninsured vehicle

Does No-Fault pay for damage to my vehicle?

No-Fault does not pay for damage to your motor vehicle or personal property damaged in the accident. A separate provision of an available insurance policy may pay for the damage caused to your vehicle.

Does “No-Fault” apply to accidents involving motorcycles?

No-Fault is excluded from accidents involving motorcycles. As such, a serious injury is not required prior to commencing a lawsuit involving a motorcycle accident.

Does No-Fault apply to pedestrians?

Yes. All pedestrians struck by any motor vehicle are protected by No-Fault coverage. The protection comes from the vehicle that struck the pedestrian.

Am I responsible if I lend someone my vehicle and they cause an accident?

Yes. If you allow someone to use your vehicle, you are consenting to a permissive use of your vehicle and are responsible for damages incurred because of an accident.

Can I sue my spouse for injuries sustained in a car accident?

No, unless a specific spousal endorsement in the insurance policy is in place.

What is Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

In simple terms, Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM/UM)coverage applies if another driver causes an accident and has little or no auto insurance coverage. SUM/UM coverage provides coverage for an individual, a family member who lives with that individual or anyone in a car that the individual is operating if a negligent motorist (1) has no insurance or (2) has a low policy limit. An injured party may use their own SUM/UM coverage to obtain compensation for the injuries suffered.

We encourage everyone to evaluate their own SUM/UM policy to ensure they have sufficient coverage to protect themselves if they are the victim of a negligent motorist.

If I am in an accident caused by another driver can I automatically bring a lawsuit?

New York is a “No-Fault” injury state, therefore in order to sue, you must sustain a serious injury in the accident, which could include the following:

  • death, dismemberment or significant disfigurement
  • a fracture
  • loss of fetus
  • permanent loss or 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
  • medically determined injury which prevents the injured party from performing substantially all the material acts which constitute the usual and customary activities for 90 of the first 180 days following the accident

Is there a deadline for filing an accident lawsuit?

Yes. Generally, the statute of limitations for a car accident is three years from the date of the accident. However, if a death occurs the statute of limitations is two years. In addition, shorter times may be applicable if the vehicle that caused the accident is owned by a municipality or public authority.

The insurance company for the driver who hit me offers to settle right away and send me a check. Should I accept?

The insurance company for the driver who hit me offers to settle right away and send me a check. Should I accept?
No. It is often not in a person’s best interest to accept a quick settlement with the insurance company. If you have suffered injuries, it is advisable to first consult with a lawyer, who can assess the full extent of your injuries. Usually, determining the full extent of your injuries takes time, and an early offer may be an attempt to persuade you to settle your case for less than it’s worth.

The bottom line is that you need a qualified personal injury attorney on your side to guide you through your case, making sure your rights are protected and any compensation owed to you is obtained. Contact LaMarche Safranko today for a no-obligation consultation.

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LaMarche Safranko Law PLLC

LaMarche Safranko Law PLLC