How to Calculate Car Accident Compensation in New York
Don’t underestimate the value of your injury claim
Every car accident is different, and the value of your claim is affected by numerous factors. Some crashes are only worth a few hundred dollars. Others can be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. It all depends on the circumstances.
While you may see various online car accident settlement calculators that can estimate what your claim is worth, it’s important to remember that there is no set formula for car accident compensation. Ultimately, only a car accident attorney can advise you of the value of your individual claim.
Below, we’ve broken down the key factors that can affect the value of a car accident lawsuit in New York. Again, this is general information meant to give you an idea of the value of your claim, not legal advice on your specific situation. The best way to find out what your car accident is worth is to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
What type of accident were you in?
The type of accident affects the available insurance and thus the practical value of your claim. If your accident involved a commercial vehicle (such as a tractor-trailer), then the value of your claim may be higher, both because of the severity of the injuries and because commercial vehicles usually have more available insurance than private vehicles. Conversely, if you were in a motorcycle accident, your claim will proceed differently because bikers generally cannot get no-fault benefits in New York.
Was the other driver at fault?
New York is a “no-fault” state for car accidents, but that doesn’t mean fault doesn’t matter. If your injuries are severe enough to step outside the no-fault system, then you can file a third-party claim or car accident lawsuit against the other driver and recover benefits from their liability insurance. You can step outside the no-fault system if your injuries fit any of the following criteria:
- Significant disfigurement
- Any broken bone
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of an organ, member, function, or system of the body
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Non-permanent injury that stops you from performing your usual daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident
What is your injury, and how long will it last?
In general, more severe injuries have a higher value, and long-term or permanent injuries have a higher value than injuries that will heal quickly. It’s all about the extent of your injuries and the effects that they have on your life.
What are your medical expenses?
Your claim should include the full cost of any reasonable and necessary medical care for your injuries sustained in the car accident. That includes the full cost of:
- Ambulance fees
- Hospital bills
- Diagnostic tests such as X-rays and blood work
- Surgery and other medical procedures
- Medication and medical devices
- Follow-up visits
- Physical therapy
It’s important to remember that your claim should include future medical expenses as well as those you’ve already incurred. For instance, if the accident increased the likelihood that you will need a future hip replacement, then the cost of that future procedure should be accounted for.
What is your lost income?
If the accident rendered you unable to work for a time, then you should be reimbursed for the income you lost while recovering from your injuries. If the accident will permanently affect your ability to work in the future – for instance, if you need to work reduced hours or take on lighter duties going forward, or if you are completely disabled – then that lost future income should be accounted for as well.
Keep in mind that even if you used vacation time, sick time, or other paid time off (PTO) through your employer while recovering from your injuries, you can and should still get compensation for that time in your car accident case. Your PTO has value, and you shouldn’t have had to use it because of someone else’s negligence.
How much are your replacement services?
Being injured doesn’t just affect your ability to do your job; it can also affect your ability to take care of tasks at home. If you need to hire someone to clean your house or take care of your children while you are recovering from your injuries, then the reasonable cost of those replacement services should be included in your claim.
How much is your property damage?
Is your vehicle repairable or a total loss? Keep in mind that if your vehicle is repaired, your claim should include not only the cost of repairs but also the diminished resale value of your car (that is, if your car is worth less money now because it was in an accident, you should get reimbursed for the difference). Your claim should also include any other damaged property that was in the car, such as electronics, valuables, or child car seats.
What are your non-economic damages?
Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are compensation for the more subjectively determined effects of an accident. While your economic damages (like medical bills or lost wages) may serve as a benchmark, there is no set formula for non-economic damages. Only an attorney can determine how much the non-economic portion of your case may be worth.
Did the accident happen at work?
If you were at work when the accident happened (that is, actually on the job, not just commuting to or from your job), then calculating the value of the claim can be significantly more complicated. You should have a workers’ compensation claim for your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages, but you generally cannot sue your employer if their negligence caused your injury. However, if a third party (such as another motorist not employed by your company) caused or contributed to your injuries, then you can still file an injury claim against that party. An attorney can help you unpack and navigate this situation.
When did the accident happen?
In New York, the statute of limitations (legal time limit) for car accidents is three years from the date of the accident. If your accident was more than three years ago, you are likely time-barred from recovering compensation. However, time can affect the value of your case in other ways, too. If evidence has been lost or witnesses are difficult to track down, it can be difficult to prove your claim. That’s why it’s in your interest to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
An experienced car accident lawyer can calculate the value of your claim
Again, this information is an overview of the factors that could affect your claim. Only an attorney can tell you how much your case is worth – and fight for full value in negotiations and, if necessary, at trial. If you’ve been hurt in a car crash in New York, don’t underestimate the value of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Bronx car accident attorney.