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Do I still have a claim if the accident is partially my fault?

Personal Injury

Many people think they do not have a claim for personal injuries following an auto accident when the mishap is their fault, but this is not always the case. While an injured claimant can be denied coverage for personal injuries in some instances when the accident is an intentional act, states like New York have implemented pure comparative negligence law along with a “no fault” insurance law that allows most injured parties in an accident to receive some form of financial recovery based on the material facts of the case. Denial of any insurance claims usually stems from incidents that are the result of intentional acts. Insurance companies in New York are generally focused on determining if a claim is fraudulent when they issue a denial, as accident insurance fraud is a very serious problem in the state and especially in New York City. Even though the purpose of the Article 51 no-fault law is to begin coverage of medical bills and replacement of lost wages in an expedited manner, there can still be potential legal complications when the insurance company is suspicious of an auto accident injury claim. This potential alone is a significant reason that it is vital to retain an experienced Long Island accident attorney to represent your injury case.

Understanding No Fault Insurance

Fault and negligence are not considered following an accident in a “no fault” state in many cases. Medical bill and lost wage claims are submitted to the personal insurance company of the injured party first, with the case then being evaluated for further damages against negligent parties. In exchange for the quick beginning of coverage for injured parties, there are also restrictions on when a lawsuit can be filed following an accident. Injuries must be very severe, including fatalities, permanent disabling injury or dismemberment, and the court determines if the case qualifies for additional damage litigation. This can be a real problem for the novice injured party who is attempting to handle the claim personally. No fault insurance is not as simple as it sounds, and it is easy to be denied full compensation without an aggressive accident attorney who will investigate an accident for all potential avenues of compensation.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the legal doctrine that all accidents are not obvious in terms of fault, as many times accidents involving two or more vehicles are the fault of multiple drivers or external causes. Many accidents actually happen as a result of automotive equipment failure, such as an air bag engaging without impact or a faulty brake system. In addition, truck accidents are often caused by failing equipment, especially when the driver has been lax in safety inspection aor truck maintenance. Each driver in an accident is evaluated for comparative negligence, normally by the respondent insurance companies first. If an accident case goes to court for a full trial, the jury will then be charged with the duty of determining an official comparative fault percentage for each driver. The comparative fault percentage is then used to determine the amount of damages that insurance companies must pay each injured driver. This is by no means a scientific process, and insurance companies try to control this component of the settlement from the very beginning, including the injured party’s own insurance company. Just because the insurance agent acts friendly in the beginning does not mean the company claims adjuster will not intensely investigate the accident looking for a reason to limit a total payout. The percentage is used to discount the amount of damages they are required to pay, and overstating a claimant’s contribution to the crash can lessen the value of the claim. This is the area of a claim where personal injury attorneys work most diligently in protecting the client’s right to full compensation for injuries.

Never let your insurance company deny you full financial compensation using any one of the several negotiation tactics that trained professional insurance claims adjusters use to reduce the value of a settlement. Just because they know they will be required to pay benefits does not mean they will not try to discourage retaining an attorney while embellishing your personal contribution to the cause of the accident. Even apparently simple cases can get complicated, especially when the injured party carries significantly higher amounts of coverage on their personal auto policy. Always get an attorney who is familiar with the local court system and understands how to craft a strong case on your behalf that will result in a maximum settlement or potentially being made financially whole following an accident claim. If a claim goes to trial, the fact that the claimant is partially at fault for the wreck does not stop the financial damage recovery process and many times gross negligence can still be a factor for one or more of the other motorists.