Personal Injury Law: Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury, you may have many of the following questions running through your mind. How will I pay my medical bills? Do I have to file my claim right away? Am I entitled to compensation? What steps should I take?
We at Edelman & Edelman, P.C., know this is a difficult situation, especially if you are having a hard time finding answers to your questions. With that in mind, we have provided answers to some of the common questions we are asked below.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?
- Personal injury: In New York, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is three years from the day you suffered your injury. If you fail to file your claim by then, the court may refuse to hear your case.
- Defective products: Similarly, most injury claims related to defective and/or dangerous products — also known as products liability claims — must be brought within three years.
- Medical malpractice: If you are injured at the hands of a negligent doctor or another medical professional, you must typically bring your claim within two years and six months (30 months total). One exception to this is when the injury claim involves a situation in which a foreign object was left in a patient’s body, in which case the claim must be filed within one year from when the object was, or should have been, discovered.
- Wrongful death: If a family member was killed due to the negligence of another, any subsequently wrongful death claim must typically be brought within two years of the death.
It is important to remember, however, that the time limits referenced above are just general guidelines and do not include every single type of personal injury claim. In fact, New York has some statutes of limitations that govern very specific situations.
In addition, depending on your claim, other time limitations may also apply. For instance, if your claim is against New York City or New York State, you may only have 90 days to file a notice of your claim, which means you really need to move quickly.
What steps should I take after a serious personal injury?
Whether you have suffered an injury due to a motor vehicle collision, a defective product, a construction accident or any other incident, you should consider these following four steps:
- Seek medical care: If you or anyone else has been injured, you should seek medical care right away. Even if you don’t think your injuries are serious, you should still see a doctor, particularly since there may be some internal injuries of which you are not aware.
- Call 911: Whether you need the police or an ambulance, it is crucial to call emergency services as soon as possible. Having the police involved is also helpful should you need a police report later to help bolster a personal injury claim.
- Collect evidence and information: Once everyone’s emergency medical needs are addressed, try to get the names and contact information of any possible witnesses. You may need statements from them later. Also, use your phone to take photos of the accident. If your injuries were caused in a motor vehicle accident, make sure to collect all necessary information from the at-fault driver, including their driver’s license number and insurance information.
- Contact an attorney: Having an experienced lawyer on your side is one of the best ways to ensure you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. The insurance companies will have attorneys looking out for their best interests, and so should you.
One important thing to remember, however, is that every situation is different, and while the steps outlined above may be helpful in many situations, they do not cover every possible scenario. This is why step four — contacting a lawyer — is so important. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your particular situation and help you determine the best steps moving forward.
What should I avoid doing after a serious personal injury?
For instance, here are four things you should avoid doing if you are ever injured in an accident:
- Fail to seek medical care: You may think your injuries are minor, but that isn’t necessarily true. It is crucial to seek medical care as soon as possible following your accident, especially since some injuries may be much more serious than you realize.
- Fail to call 911: Even if the other side is saying you don’t need to call the police, you should always call 911 and report the accident. After all, a police report may come in handy later should you need to prove your personal injury claim in court.
- Speak to the insurance company: Many insurance companies care more about their bottom line than your well-being, so they are going to try to pay you the least amount possible — or deny your claim altogether. Therefore, it is best not to speak, or give a recorded statement, to the other party’s insurance company or its attorney. If they can, they will use what you say against you. In these situations, it is best to simply tell them to contact your attorney.
- Accept a settlement without first speaking to a lawyer: Never take a check or sign anything from an insurance company without first talking to a lawyer. You don’t want to waive your rights to possible compensation, especially if the settlement offer from the insurance company doesn’t actually cover all of your damages.
As we often mention throughout our site, every situation is different. So, while the actions listed above are some of the things you should avoid doing following an accident, depending on your situation, there may be other actions you may also want to avoid. The best way to know what steps to take — and which to avoid — is to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Need More Answers? Contact Us Today.
When you need compassionate, knowledgeable legal guidance, Edelman & Edelman, P.C., can help. Our attorneys will listen to the facts of your case and carefully explain what legal options may be available. Call our New York office today to speak with one of our lawyers. We even offer free consultations. You can reach us online or call us at 212-235-1197.