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Car Accident Victims: The Initial Consultation

The unfortunate reality is that most car and truck accident victims do everything they’re supposed to do; their seatbelts are fastened, they’re attentive to other drivers and their surroundings, and they’re following the posted speed limit, or even commonly stopped at a traffic light or signal. Excessive speeding, texting, poorly maintained brakes, inattentiveness or over-aggression on behalf of another motorist rather than any fault of your own could have disastrous consequences.

The vast majority of car accident victims and their families have many questions in the aftermath of their or their loved one’s accident. Who pays for the outstanding hospital bills? How do I get compensation from the responsible party? How is liability even determined? What can I recover? First and foremost, seek treatment for any injuries, no matter how minor. While the most important factor in the aftermath of any accident is someone’s health, this will also ensure that you have documentation of your injury at the time of the accident for your insurance company. As part of their own investigation, and as a factor in determining how they’re going to evaluate your injury, the responsible parties’ insurance company will examine any medical records related to your accident.

Next, it is important that you select an experienced personal injury attorney that you feel will best represent you and ensure your rights are protected. As most insurance companies require 24-hour notice of any accident, and will usually want a statement, it would be wise to have a discussion regarding your situation with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Additionally, while your focus should and will be on ensuring your health, there are deadlines such as a no-fault application deadline a mere thirty (30) days after your incident that you should be able to lean on your attorneys firm to handle while you’re on the mend.

Regarding any sort of cost incurred with initially contacting a personal injury attorney, most attorneys, including the attorneys at Palermo Law offer free consultations. This free and initial consultation is the best opportunity for you to make a determination as to who you will retain to represent your legal rights and interests, and it is very important you provide as much information regarding the facts and circumstances of your case as accurately as you can. Some information you’ll be asked to provide at the initial consultation include any medical records or police accident reports you may have associated with your injury, and you should also be asked to describe your accident in as detailed a fashion as possible. Some of the details you should be asked include the location of the accident, direction of travel of both you and the responsible party, whether or not there were any eyewitnesses, and whether or not you’ve been treating your injury or have sought medical attention to that point. This will help any attorney you’re discussing your case with provide you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Some things you’ll want to consider during your initial consultation;

  • Has the attorney explained the positive and negative aspects of my case in an open and honest fashion?
  • Has the attorney discussed liability in my case and how he has interpreted liability based upon the facts I’ve provided?
  • Does the attorney have support staff that is able to handle all aspects of my case, including receiving any no-fault benefits or recovery for property damage that I may be entitled to?
  • Did the attorney discuss the concept of threshold with me so that I have a more clear idea of what type of injury is compensable under New York law?
  • Has the attorney explained the limitations of insurance coverage and what my options are if my injuries exceed the responsible parties’ policy?

As the initial consultation will be likely set the tone of the relationship between yourself and the attorney you’re discussing your case with, don’t hesitate or be afraid to ask questions and seek clarification for any concern you have.

About the Author

Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.

His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.