Car Accident Attorney Bronx

Being involved in a car accident – especially if you or a loved one was seriously injured – can be a frightening and confusing experience.  If the crash was not your fault, feelings of anger and frustration can be compounded by the fact that you are suffering because the negligent actions of another driver.

If you are among the many car accident victims in the Bronx, you know firsthand about this pain, suffering, and expense that results from a serious car accident injury. The Bronx injury attorneys at Domina Law understand what you may be going through and and how to help.

Bronx Car Accident Statistics

New York City, like any major urban environment, has heavy traffic. Driving in the city requires both skill and vigilance to avoid harming other drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists. In 2013, 70,000 car crashes occurred in New York City, resulting in 294 deaths. While that number fell to 66,554 in 2014, it is still a staggering amount of car accidents.

Bronx accidents mapped from 2013-2015

A large portion of these accidents occurred in the Bronx and car accident totals are on the rise. Between the years 2013 and 2015 there was 60,685 reported motor vehicle collisions in the Bronx alone, with 2015 showing a 9.2 percent increase over 2014. If current trends hold throughout the end of the year, the Bronx will be even more dangerous in 2016.

Bronx Car Accidents 2013-2106

*2016 data is through 9/30/2016

 

How Can An Accident Attorney Help?

It is important to understand that insurance companies are in the business of making profits, and that means paying out as little as possible on personal injury and wrongful death claims. They will employ a variety of tactics to deny or reduce the value of your claim. By choosing an experienced Bronx car accident attorney who handles only personal injury cases and has a documentable record of success, you will receive the level of expertise that your case deserves and that will produce the best possible outcome given your circumstances. A dedicated auto accident lawyer understands the tactics that insurance companies employ to avoid paying claims and know how to combat them aggressively, to protect your legal right to compensation.

New York Negligence Law

New York is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that if you are deemed to be 25 percent at fault in an accident, you’ll only receive 75 percent of your determined compensation. The process for determining how liable you or the other person involved in the accident are depends on the evidence gathered from the scene. These don’t necessarily have to be pictures or even witness statements, but an understanding of the traffic laws and documentation of the surroundings can go a long way in determining the percentage of your fault, if there was any.

There are five things that you must be able to prove in order to show that the other driver was negligent:

  1. That there was a duty by the defendant owed to you, the plaintiff. As drivers, we generally all owe a duty to other drivers on the road to operate our vehicle in a safe manner.
  2. Show a breach of that duty. The other driver’s actions which caused the accident, be it turning left when you had the right of way, not stopping at a stop sign, or not signaling when changing lanes, would suffice to prove this.
  3. Cause in fact; did what the other driver did, which constituted a breach of duty, actually cause your injuries?
  4. Proximate cause, which means that you have to show that the defendant knew his actions might cause harm to others.
  5. You have to show that what the defendant did caused actual damages, whether to you or to your property.

Proving all five of these things may be somewhat difficult, but if the other driver was found to be at fault or even mostly at fault, and you were injured in the accident, you should be able to show that they were indeed negligent.

Types of Auto Accidents:

Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States each year.  There are a number of different collisions and vehicle types, ranging from truck accidents to bike accidents.  Here are some of the more common types of auto accident types:

Bronx Motor Vehicle Collisions

The toll in human suffering from car accident injuries is great. In 2014, those 66,554 New York City accidents involved over 113,500 drivers. Many of these were caused by the driver of a car who was engaged in a behavior that can be characterized as negligent, such as speeding, driving aggressively, driving under the influence, driving while distracted, or simply not taking reasonable care to avoid harming others.

Distracted Driving

The increased emphasis on texting and driving means that if you are using your cell phone in any capacity while driving, you will be issued a citation. According to the most recently available data, more than 12,000 crashes were caused by distracted drivers in New York City during 2014. Of the 20,000+ accidents in June of 2016 alone, approximately 30 percent of them were caused by a distracted driver.

A citation, which can be as low as $50 or as high as $500, isn’t the only thing you could get. Five points will be subtracted from your driver’s license. If you receive 11 points against your license within an 18 month span, your license may be suspended.

A New York state bill, which is currently in committee, would allow police to check the driver’s phone at the scene of an accident. The idea behind this is that they could see whether the driver was distracted in the moments leading up to the crash.

Taxi Accidents

Rides in a taxi in New York are equal parts entertaining and terrifying, and accidents involving them do happen. Because so many city dwellers rely on taxis to get around, the odds of being involved in a taxi crash are greater than in many other areas.

 Although the overall injury rate is lower for cabs than for other cars, the injuries tend to be more severe, in part because of the partition between the passengers and driver, and the fact that most passengers in taxis do not use seat belts, which may be lacking in some vehicles. If you are a passenger in a taxi (or an Uber, really any car) when the driver gets in an accident, it can be difficult knowing what to do. If you are injured, you can file a claim against both driver’s liability coverage. You can do this because you don’t actually have to prove liability; at least one of the drivers is going to be negligent in an accident. Also, one of the driver’s may not have enough coverage to pay for all of the damages, and in this case, the other driver would pay the rest.

All taxi companies are required to carry $100,000/$300,000 insurance for each of their drivers; as in, $100,000 if one passenger is injured, $300,000 if multiple passengers are injured. However, private companies, such as Uber, are only required to carry $25,000/$50,000 worth of insurance, which may very well not be enough to cover all damages. This is when you would deal with your own insurance company in or to receive compensation.

Settling a claim and being compensated for damages as a passenger in a taxi may very well end up being a long process. The insurer’s could get into a battle over who was more at fault, or they could argue over the settlement amount itself. But in addition to a claim with insurance, one should also be filed with the taxi company.

Bike and Pedestrian Accidents

With a growing number of cyclists sharing the city’s streets, bicycle accidents are a major cause of injuries and fatalities. Taxi drivers are responsible for more than their share of accidents with bicycles. Accidents often occur when vehicles turn in front of or directly into cyclists or make other improper turns, when they change lanes without checking for cyclists sharing the street, when vehicles illegally drive in bike lanes or stop in them, or when cyclists slam into car doors as passengers exit a vehicle without checking to make sure it is safe to open them.

Unless you are under 12 years of age, you are not allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalks in New York. Riding in the roads can be dangerous, and if you as a cyclist are involved in an accident with a motorist, there is great risk of bodily harm considering how vulnerable you are. And even though the City has greatly expanded its use of bike lanes, there were still more than 4,400 crashes involving cyclists, the majority of which happened in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Even if you follow all safety regulations, accidents involving a cyclist can and do happen. Bicyclists have no protection when involved in accidents with cars, and the injuries are often severe. A cyclist may be thrown into the path of another vehicle and then hit a second time. Even if the bike rider survives, the injuries are often catastrophic and life-changing.

If you are involved in an accident, and you are injured, you can obtain No Fault insurance, which will help cover medical expenses, lost wages and related expenses to others who may have been injured in the accident. You must obtain this insurance no more than 30 days after the accident. You can also file a personal injury suit in order to obtain compensation.

Pedestrian accidents are on the rise in New York. The only thing more crowded than New York City roads are its sidewalks, and perhaps the most dangerous place to be a pedestrian is the Bronx. The borough had the intersection with the most pedestrian fatalities in 2010 (E. 170th & Grand Concourse) and had two intersections in the top five in 2013 (E. Tremont Ave. & Crotona Ave. and Boston Rd. & Thwaites Pl.).

As with bicycle crashes, unprotected pedestrians often suffer extremely severe injuries that all too often result in wrongful death or debilitating impairments that prevent the victim from working or functioning in the simplest of daily activities. Distracted driving and failure to yield are among the most common causes of pedestrian accidents in the city. Pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than a motor vehicle occupant in the event of a crash, according to the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Report and Action Plan.

In the Bronx, pedestrians are killed at nearly double the rate of motorists, with 79.09 fatalities per 100,000 total accidents*, while motorists are killed at a rate of 41.19 per 100,000.  However, if you only take into count accidents which resulted in an injured or killed pedestrian, that fatality rate skyrockets to 1,035.82 per 100,000, compared to just 188.86 for motorists.

*The NYPD accident data does not distinguish which accidents involve pedestrians if there are no reported injuries or deaths. 

Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Collisions

 

While the big picture shows that pedestrian deaths have fallen in the past couple of decades, they have increased in the last few years. In 2007, they accounted for 51 percent of traffic fatalities; in 2013, they accounted for 58 percent. So if you are in an accident involving a vehicle as a pedestrian, it’s important to know what to do.

First, there are a plethora of laws pertaining to pedestrians, and most of them concern right-of-way situations.

  • The driver would not be at fault if you weren’t crossing at a designated crosswalk
  • You are not allowed to stand in the street when hailing a cab. Hit-and-run accidents are far too common when pedestrians are involved, and if this happens to you, you must report it to the police within 24 hours in order to be compensated by your health insurance company.
  • If traffic control signals aren’t present, the pedestrian has the right of way, provided he is at a designated crosswalk. However, you cannot jump or run out in front of a moving car which is too close for the driver to practically avoid you.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way when walking along the sidewalk and a car is entering or exiting a garage, alleyway or private road.
  • Every driver approaching an intersection or crosswalk should yield the right of way to a visually-impaired person using a guide dog or a cane.

If you are injured, no matter the severity, seek medical attention. Should the incident lead to a lawsuit, it can be used against you in court if you delay treatment. If you’re able, document the scene as much as possible and obtain witness contact information. Basically, the same process for proving liability in a normal car-on-car accident applies here.

The city has identified the most problem intersections in the Bronx, particularly those designated as “vision zero priority,” and administered a plan to make them safer last year. But no amount of signs and stoplights can top personal vigilance, especially with the way some people drive in the City.

Uninsured Or Underinsured Drivers

New York law requires that a motorist have at least $25,000 of liability coverage for one person, $50,000 for multiple people. However, statewide, more than five percent of drivers are uninsured. Even though this is one of the lowest percentages of all states in the country, it still leaves a chance that you might be involved in a crash with an uninsured driver.

Getting an accident with an uninsured driver, which can lead to a hit-and-run scenario, is a troubling possibility for other drivers, especially when it comes to how one would pay for any damage to the vehicle. Supplementary Uninsured Motorists coverage can be purchased in New York, and it protects against this very scenario. It applies to you or even a relative who is driving a vehicle in your policy. There are, however, some limits to the uninsured motorists (UM) coverage:

  • Although the coverage includes some accidents with hit-and-run drivers, that driver would have to actually cause damage to your car. It wouldn’t apply if you were run off the road without contact. And sometimes you would have to be able to identify the other driver. If it was a hit-and-run scenario, you would need to report it within 24 hours.
  • If you’re in an accident while on a job, the UM payments would be reduced by any worker’s compensation that you may receive.
  • If you’re injured while riding in another person’s car, that person’s UM coverage would be primary and yours would be secondary, and you would collect from your own only if the other person’s UM insurance won’t cover all of the damages.

New York is one of 12 states that is considered a no-fault state, which means that if you’re injured in an accident, you would turn to your own insurance company for payment, regardless of who was at fault.

Are Insurance Settlements Taxable in New York?

For the most part, insurance settlements are not taxable in New York. However, there are a few provisos that could arise in which a settlement would become taxable. Usually, there are three types of compensations: personal injury, property and punitive, or emotional damages. Personal injury and property generally aren’t taxable, but punitive damages could very well be. And since it’s not uncommon for a car accident compensation claim to seek damages from all three of these categories, figuring out what will and won’t be taxed can be confusing.

Things like lost wages, medical bills and property damaged are easily calculated for the most part; we can determine lost wages by days of work missed, and medical bills and property damaged are determined by those who are going to make you or your car well again. If you were a pedestrian in an accident, there’s a chance that you’re only filing an injury claim; this is not taxable. If you were a driver, there’s a chance that you’re only filing a property damage claim. When all three of these become involved in a settlement, however, that is when some of it may be taxed.

Punitive damages as the result of an accident are generally considered to be subjective, although it is possible to calculate them accurately. When someone receives a settlement for personal injury or property damage, that money is to be put toward those specific things, which is why they are not taxed. Pain is one side of the coin, suffering is the opposite, and it is taxable income. This is because punitive damages are usually assessed as punishment for the behavior of the defendant.

How Are Punitive Damages Calculated?

Although much arguing can occur between us and your insurance company in terms of figuring out a proper settlement to cover punitive damages, there are systems in place that allow us to place an accurate figure on suffering. One system that contributes to determining compensation is known as a “multiplier.” They generally fall in the range of one-and-a-half to four times the “specials,” which is based on the amount you’re awarded to cover medical bills and lost wages (e.g., if you had $5,000 of medical bills and $1,000 of lost wages, your specials would amount to $6,000). There are a few of these and one or all of them could be a factor when it comes to figuring out how much you are owed.

  • Aggravating circumstances such as whether the other driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs, or if the action was deemed intentional. If this was the case, a higher multiplier should be used.
  • How serious your injuries were.
  • How long your recovery took.
  • Whether you recovered completely. Nerve damage, badly broken bones, paralyzation, whether permanent or temporary, likely means that you will never fully recover from the accident, and so you can seek higher compensation.

When it comes to medical bills, the amount of punitive damages awarded is based on the severity of the injury, not how high the medical bill is. If they suspected a concussion and a broken arm, the amount of tests and the ambulance are going to bring a hefty price tag. But if it turns out all you had was a hair fracture in your wrist that will only take a month to heal, then the punitive damages will likely be significantly lower.

Determining proper punitive damages is when it’s very important to have an experienced lawyer on hand during the settlement process. These are never awarded on their own, but are an accompaniment to injury and property damages. That’s why the dollar figure can fluctuate, and having a lawyer can help ensure that you are awarded every dime owed.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident?

When you’ve been injured in a car crash, the steps you take immediately following the accident can make an enormous difference in the success of your claim for compensation.

If you are able:

  • Get the names of drivers, owners, and insurance companies or all vehicles.
  • Take photos of the vehicles involved in the crash.
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Call the police and report the accident.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible. If necessary, have someone call an ambulance.
  • Do not discuss the cause of the accident or your injuries with anyone.
  • Contact experienced Bronx car accident attorneys; Dino Domina to learn about your rights.
  • Do not engage in any detailed conversation with an insurance adjuster. Do not sign anything or allow the adjuster to record a statement. Refer the adjuster to your attorney.

The extent to which you are able to document the car accident will of course depend to some degree on the seriousness of your injuries. Clearly, if you are unconscious or unable to move about, you will have to depend on someone else to provide the information about the other vehicles.

Call our Bronx Accident Attorney For a Free Consultation

Following a New York City car accident, contact the car accident attorneys located in the Bronx at Domina Law firm for experienced representation that will give you the best outcome in your car accident case. We have a 20-year record of resolving car accident claims for our clients. We have been honored as Super Lawyers every year since 2011, and have a sterling reputation in the legal community for client service and excellent representation.

Discuss your case with a highly skilled Bronx car accident lawyer at no charge. We accept cases on contingency, so you will have no out-of-pocket expenses and will only pay if we win money for you. Contact us at 718.962.0600 today to protect your right to compensation.