Do I Have to Go to Court After a Car Accident?
In most cases, you will not have to go to court after a car accident. It is important to note, however, that every case is different, and the circumstances of your accident will determine whether you might need to file a lawsuit. Before we discuss whether your accident case will go to court, it is helpful to know a bit more about how a car accident settlement works.
How Do Car Crash Settlements Work?
Most accident cases settle instead of going to court. This means that the other party offers you a certain amount of money to drop any pending legal action or forgo filing any future legal action.
Because New York is a no-fault state, you first need to turn to your own insurer to get the compensation you need. You have a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury protection benefits to cover your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. This applies whether you were at-fault or not.
Chances are, if your damages are below this $50,000 limit and your insurer cooperates, you will not need to go to court. However, even though your insurer should be working for you, its primary goal is saving money. This means it might deny or devalue your claim. If your insurer refuses to grant you a fair settlement, you might need to take it to court.
If your damages exceed this $50,000 limit, you suffered a serious injury, and the other driver was negligent, you can file a claim against the other driver. You are more likely to find yourself in court when filing against the other driver.
What Factors Might Require Me to Take My Accident Case to Court?
We will do what we can to keep your case out of court as it costs more money and can often take longer to get you the compensation you need; however, there are certain factors that might require us to take your case to court:
- How much your claim is worth
- Whether the other party disputes fault
- An inability to reach a settlement agreement
- New York’s statute of limitations
Your Claim’s Worth
The lower your claim’s worth, the more likely the insurer is to offer a settlement you deserve. If your claim is for $2,000, the insurer might just write you a check immediately. However, if your accident caused you to suffer permanent disfigurement and retire, you could be looking at a six-figure settlement. The insurance company will likely fight tooth and nail to avoid paying you the full value of your settlement.
If this occurs, we might need to take the insurer to court to force it to pay you what you deserve.
If either side disputes fault and will not budge, the case might need to go to court where a judge or jury decides who is liable for the accident and any related injuries.
You and the Other Party Cannot Reach a Settlement Agreement
Cases sometimes go to court if both sides refuse to agree on a settlement offer. While this is a last resort for us, our team is not afraid to take your case to court if it means getting you what you need to cover your accident-related losses.
Statute of Limitations
Under New York’s statute of limitations law, you have three years to file and settle an injury claim. This means you must reach maximum medical improvement or receive a prognosis, and we must investigate the accident, gather evidence, file your claim, and negotiate a fair settlement all within that time.
In some cases, that just is not possible. If time is running out in your case, we might file a lawsuit to extend the time we have to get you the compensation you deserve.
Discuss Your Car Accident Case with Our Team Today for FREE
Going to court is our last resort for our car accident clients. We will do everything in our power to keep your case out of court to save you money and get you your settlement more quickly; however, if necessary, we will use our 25 years of experience to fight for you and get you the verdict you deserve. We have successfully handled over 20,000 cases and won hundreds of millions of dollars since we opened our doors; we will use that knowledge to build a successful suit against the other party.
Call 800-550-0000 and set a time to talk to the team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. We can evaluate your case and explain what legal choices you have. It will cost you nothing up front.
Do I Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Even Though I Have Medical Insurance?
Although you can use your personal medical insurance to get treatment after an accident, filing a personal injury lawsuit is usually the best course of action if you sustained injuries due to someone’s negligence. However, since your health insurer likely includes a subrogation clause in the terms of your policy, the company may come after your settlement when it arrives.
The personal injury attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can help with your case. Call us at 631-600-0000 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney in New York.
Will My Health Insurance Cover My Injuries After an Accident?
Your health insurance will pay for your medical treatment for injuries you sustain in a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or any other accident that occurs because of someone else’s negligence. In fact, for many victims, this is the only way they can get their medical care needs handled in the hours, days, and weeks after an accident.
You will still have to pay your co-pay or co-insurance, just as you do whenever you see a doctor or go to the hospital, however.
Why Do I Still Need to File a Lawsuit?
While you may not have to file a lawsuit, you definitely need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. If your injuries resulted from someone’s negligence, they are responsible for your damages.
Although your health insurance will get you the most important medical treatment you need in the short term, it will not pay for your lost wages to date or in the future. Your medical insurance may not, in fact, pay for all of the rehabilitation, physical therapy, mental health treatments, or other needs you may have in the future.
A personal injury claim settlement will include all of your current and future treatment needs, your current and future lost wages, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, long-term disability, and compensation for your loss of life enjoyment.
However, if you used your personal medical insurance to cover your injuries, it could endanger your settlement due to a legal process known as subrogation.
What Is Subrogation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Subrogation is a legal process that allows your medical insurance company to go after any funds you receive for the bills they paid. This process exists because of the theory that you should not be able to collect twice—once from your insurance company and again from your settlement.
For example, if you sustained a concussion in a car crash, you might go to the emergency department for treatment and use your medical insurance to pay the bills. We would include those hospital bills in your personal injury lawsuit as a part of your accident-related losses. Your eventual settlement will compensate you for those bills, even though you did not pay them originally.
Consequently, your medical insurance company can subrogate to claim those funds, since they paid them out originally.
If you had any balance left at the hospital, they can also attempt to recover a portion of the settlement. In some cases, hospitals even try to claim you owe extra funds, representing the difference between their negotiated services rate with your medical insurance company and their published rates. This is a practice called “balance billing.”
To collect these funds, your insurance company and medical services provider can file a lien against your eventual settlement.
How Can I Protect My Settlement?
The best way to ensure that your medical insurance company does not take more of your settlement is to let us handle the communication and coordination of your payout.
We can protect your settlement using a legal strategy called the “made-whole doctrine.” The made-whole doctrine limits the amount your insurance company can claim if your settlement did not cover your total loss—or make you whole. If your settlement was less than the amount of your total claim, it did not legally make you whole.
In addition, New York law bars medical service providers from balance billing. We will also ensure that any hospitals or doctors you saw do not try to claim any portion of your settlement they have no legal right to.
We can negotiate with the insurance company, doctors, and hospitals to get them equitably repaid. More importantly, we can work to ensure they do not try to claim any additional funds from your settlement.
It is imperative that we review a copy of your medical insurance policy as well as all of your medical bills. Do not sign agreements with your insurance company or any medical provider without talking to us first.
We can also refer you to doctors and other treatment providers in the medical community who regularly work with personal injury accident victims. Many of these medical professionals will agree to await payment until you receive a settlement.
We Can Help You Recover Compensation After a Personal Injury in New York.
If you sustained injuries in an accident in New York, contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., at 631-600-0000. Our personal injury lawyers can help you pursue fair financial compensation for your injuries.
Does Joining a Class Action Lawsuit Cost Me Anything?
Joining a class action lawsuit should not cost you anything in most cases. The only plaintiff who may have out-of-pocket expenses in class action litigation is the class representative, and even this is rare.
Who Is the Class Representative? Why Would He Need to Pay Anything in a Class Action?
The class representative is the victim who hires the legal team and files the lawsuit. His legal team then asks the court to certify the case, and builds a class of plaintiffs who also suffered damages in the same way.
The class representative stands for the other class members in court and settlement negotiations, and may occasionally have to pay some fees related to the case. However, the class representative will receive reimbursement for these fees once the case settles. Often, the attorneys will cover these costs, and no plaintiff (class representative or not) will pay a dime until the court awards a payout. In this case, the attorneys will include these costs in their fees they deduct at the end of the case.
If you believe you have a case and others may share the same type of injury, give us a call right away. We can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of serving as a class representative and whether you might be best served simply opting in to the class action.
If you saw a commercial, poster, or other information about a class action case, a class representative may already be in place. We can help you join the class action lawsuit free of charge, or offer a complimentary consultation to determine if this is the best option for getting the compensation you deserve.
How Do Plaintiffs Pay Attorneys’ Fees in A Class Action Lawsuit?
In most class action cases, the court determines how to pay the court costs and attorneys’ fees. Usually, the attorneys receive a percentage of the total compensation awarded to members of the class. They also take any expenses they incurred from this fund before dividing it among the class members. In this way, all plaintiffs pay for legal fees in the case, but they share the costs.
Occasionally, the judge will rule that the defendant must pay the legal fees for the class. This is common when the damages are relatively small, and there may not be enough in the fund to cover all court costs and attorneys’ fees. If the plaintiffs do not win a class action lawsuit, their attorneys walk away without compensation in most cases. This is known as working on a contingency basis.
What Can I Expect to Recover from a Class Action?
What you can expect to recover depends on the injuries you suffered, the number of people in the class, and the company’s worth. If 5,000 plaintiffs sue a relatively small company, you might only receive a few dollars each. By discussing your case and your expectations with a lawyer before opting in to a class action, you will know what to expect when it comes to potential fees and settlement awards.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Joining a Class Action?
Yes. While joining a class action lawsuit will not cost you a dime upfront, you give up your right to recover compensation individually. If your injuries are substantially worse than other plaintiffs in your class, joining a class action could end up costing you thousands or millions down the road.
For this reason, you should always discuss whether you should join a class action or mass tort with a qualified attorney.
How Can I Talk About My Claim with a Class Action Lawyer?
If you are considering joining a class action lawsuit but have questions or concerns about the process or any potential fees, call a skilled class action attorney from Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. today at 631-600-0000. We offer complimentary consultations to help you understand whether joining a class action is right for you. And remember, we work on a contingency basis which means we receive no payment until you do.