How Do I Know If My Car Accident Case Is Worth Anything?
If you have been injured in a car accident, one of the questions you are most likely to ask is whether a lawsuit would be worth anything. There are a lot of variables, including how serious an injury you have suffered, how strong the evidence of the other driver’s liability is, and how likely you are to be able to collect a judgment.
There is never a quick and guaranteed estimate as to the value of a car accident case. The best way to get a grasp on your options is to speak with a personal injury lawyer for a personalized analysis of your situation.
Bringing a car accident claim in New York or New Jersey
Before knowing what your accident case is worth, you need to know whether you have the right to bring a lawsuit. Since New York and New Jersey are no-fault insurance states, not every car accident victim has the right to sue the at-fault party.
If you have no-fault insurance, you may be limited to recovering only economic damages under your personal injury protection policy unless you meet the state’s legal threshold for filing a lawsuit. If you suffer a severe injury or sustain high enough medical bills, you may be permitted to step outside the no-fault system to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party. When you do this, you are also eligible to recover non-economic damages for intangible losses like pain and suffering.
If you have suffered only minor injuries without long-term impact expected, your only option may be to file a no-fault claim with your own insurer (but be sure to consult a lawyer, especially before finalizing anything). But if you were injured severely enough to meet the threshold for filing a lawsuit, your damages will be much higher and you may seek compensation for your pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.
Some of the factors that go into calculating damages include:
- Amount of medical bills, prescriptions, and other related costs
- Lost wages
- Permanence of injury
- Whether the injury has caused temporary or permanent disability
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Impact on the enjoyment of life and usual activities
- Effect on marital relationship
Determining liability for an accident
Someone may be at fault in an auto accident if their carelessness or intentional bad action caused it. The at-fault party may be liable for the reasonable and necessary costs incurred, as well as for the non-economic losses sustained.
If you were solely to blame for your crash, then you will not have grounds to sue someone else. However, if you may still bring a lawsuit if the other party was at least partly to blame. In New York, you can still file a claim if you were mostly at fault while in New Jersey, you can recover compensation as long as you were not more than 50% at fault. In either case, though, your compensation will be reduced by your proportion of the blame.
Even if you have the right to bring a lawsuit, in some cases it will not make financial sense. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in medical bills in a NY accident but bore 90% of the fault, a lawsuit may not make a lot of sense. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney so you can take an informed approach based on your realistic options.
Likelihood of collecting a judgment
Ideally – and according to the law – all drivers on the road should have adequate auto insurance. But some drivers do not have insurance at all and others only have minimum coverage. If you suffered a serious injury and the other driver was to blame, they may not have adequate coverage.
Your attorney will look at other options available, including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, umbrella policies, the other driver’s personal financial capabilities, and even other potential defendants, to determine whether a winning case would result in compensation.
Received a personalized case review
No two cases are the same. To find out whether you have a strong car accident case and learn about your legal options, schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Our attorneys provide tailored attention to clients throughout Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, NJ. Whether your case is big or small, we strive for the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.