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As a Long Island car accident lawyer, I have represented hundreds of car accident victims and seen a wide array of injuries, but there are certain injuries that I see over and over again. Some of these injuries entitle you to financial compensation while other less severe injuries will not. Here is a list of the most common types of injuries and an explanation of which will and won’t entitle you to receive financial compensation.

Types of Injuries

Back and Neck Sprains and Strains: This type of injury refers to injury to the muscles surrounding your back and neck. Even a low impact car accident can cause sprains and strains. However, these types of injuries rarely entitle you to financial compensation in New York due to our Threshold Law. However, it is possible this injury will meet the serious injury threshold, thus entitling you to financial compensation if you are unable to carry out a substantial percentage of your normal activities for any 90-day period within the first 180 days of your car accident.

The courts will generally look at your work history first. If you have not missed 90 straight days it is extremely unlikely you will qualify for financial compensation. If you have missed 90 straight days, the court will next look at your other activities to make sure you were unable to substantially and effectively perform all of them. Ultimately, this is a judgment call that will be made by a judge.

Herniated Discs: A herniated disc is another type of injury that is very common following a car accident. A disc refers to the rubbery cushions between each vertebra in your back and neck. A disc is a little bit like a jelly doughnut with a soft center surrounded by a harder exterior shell. A herniation of the disc refers to the tearing of that harder exterior shell, which in turn causes the softer jelly-like substance to escape, often causing pain.

If it can be related to your accident, a disc herniation can entitle you to compensation if you have long-lasting loss of range of motion or nerve damage. Only a doctor can substantiate this type of injury.

Fractured Bones: A fracture is a medical term for a broken bone. There are many types of fractures ranging from a hairline fracture to a comminuted fracture. A fracture meets the threshold for serious injury in New York and does entitle you to compensation. The amount of compensation you will receive will depend on the severity of the injury.

Torn Cartilage, Tendons and Ligaments: Soft tissue tears are common in car accidents, especially tears of the shoulder and knee. If this type of injury can be related to your car accident, it will often meet the threshold for serious injury.

The best way to determine if your specific injury meets the threshold for serious injury is to have an experienced car accident attorney review your case. The consultation is usually free.

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.

It’s a fact of life that if you live in Suffolk County, New York you are going to need to drive a car. Mass transit is nearly impossible to use, so our roads are always crowded, especially at rush hour. On top of that, we have many eighteen-wheelers and box trucks traveling through our county every day. Therefore, safely sharing the roads with big rigs is a must.

As a Long Island truck accident lawyer, I have seen my share of injured people, many of whom have been in accidents with larger, heavier trucks. As a result of seeing so many truck accidents, I’ve been able to develop some tips for drivers sharing the road with trucks.

Safety Tips When Driving With Trucks

  1. Always drive defensively, especially when you are near trucks. Defensive driving is always a good idea but never more important than when you’re near a truck. Always pay attention to your surroundings. Scan the roads and take note of any large trucks. It’s always best to avoid these dangerous vehicles. Truck drivers have a difficult time reacting quickly to emergency situations due to their size and weight. As a rule of thumb, use the four-second rule, this means you should leave a four-second gap between you and any truck.
  2. If it is necessary to pass a truck, you should do so with extreme caution. Remember, trucks have many blind spots, so always try to pass a truck quickly and move far away again. Do not linger in blind spots as this greatly increases the risk of an accident.
  3. Never cut in front of a truck. This is important because trucks have large breaking distances. It takes an 18-wheel truck over two hundred yards to stop from a speed of 65 miles per hour, therefore, don’t take a chance, make sure that you have tons of room before you turn in front of a truck.
  4. Always dim your bright lights at night when driving past trucks. Temporarily blinding a truck driver as you pass can have disastrous consequences. A good rule is to dim your bright lights at least one block in advance of passing the truck.
  5. Always signal your intentions around a truck. Whether you’re passing, merging, or turning, it’s always important that you let the truck driver know what your intentions are, so they can know how to react in advance.

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.

If you’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence and are pursuing a personal injury claim, you may eventually find yourself in a court of law for a trial. For many, this will be a new experience, therefore, it’s important to understand that there are certain formalities that you are expected to follow when you’re in a courtroom. Additionally, there are some things that you can do to help you shine throughout your day in court. Following these five tips will help to ensure that your time in a courtroom goes smoothly.

1. Attire

First, your attire sets an important tone. If you underdress you are sending a message that you do not respect the court process. If you overdress you run the risk of appearing to be trying too hard to impress the judge or jury. My recommendation is that you think of the court as a business casual environment. Dressing appropriately will give the impression that you respect the court but yet are not trying too hard to impress.

2. Respect

Next, there is the expectation that parties will show respect to the judge and the jury. I recommend always standing when a judge or jury enters a room, as well as when they exit. It’s also important to not speak at that time. Once the judge and jury are seated, it’s okay to sit as well.

3. Demeanor

During a trial, you will hear testimonies from witnesses, some may annoy or upset you. Conversely, some of the testimonies may make you feel happy. The jury is watching everything you do. Your reaction can either help or hurt your case, the best practice is to try and limit your reactions. Imagine if you had a volume button, you’d want it to be on low while listening to testimonies. Of course, you’re expected to react to negative testimonies, but overdoing it will turn off the jury. A slight frown is much more appealing to a jury than profusely shaking your head in anger. The same goes for positive emotions, a slight smile is much more appealing than acting as though your favorite football team just scored a touchdown.

4. Do Not Interrupt

At some point, you may have to testify in court. To do this you will be asked questions by an attorney. In direct testimony, your attorney will ask you questions, this process is usually friendly, and in cross-examination, your opposition’s attorney will ask you some questions. In both instances, you should always wait until the attorney finishes speaking before answering the question. It is never received well by a jury if you talk over an attorney. Also, it’s a good idea to try and relax and take your time answering the questions.

5. Eye Contact

Finally, it’s always a good idea to speak directly to the jury when answering a question. So, you should look at the attorney while he/she is speaking and once he/she is finished and you are ready to answer, turn and speak directly to the jury. Jurors will react positively to direct eye contact, it shows a level of confidence in what you are saying and will improve your credibility with jurors.

If you get injured in a car accident, you may find yourself in the unenviable position of needing compensation from a billion-dollar insurance company. While it’s nice to know that the party responsible for paying for your losses has the resources to do so, getting them to do it is a much different story. Most insurance companies employ numerous strategies to make recovering compensation nearly impossible.

Understanding Goliath

How do you find success in this David vs. Goliath situation? First, it’s important to understand how an insurance company thinks. Unlike people, insurance companies have no feelings, they don’t feel sympathy, frustration, or anger, they can’t be intimidated, and they never get scared. The only thing that an insurance company cares about is its bottom line. To an insurance company, your injury is nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet to be dealt with in the most cost-effective way.

Understanding this mentality holds the key to successfully pursuing a claim against an insurance company. An insurance company’s weakness comes from its obsession with its bottom line. In an attempt to keep expenses low, an insurance company will always try to cut corners. They hire inexperienced adjusters to deal with claims, they also hire inexpensive lawyers to defend lawsuits. Insurance company adjusters and lawyers are always overworked and underpaid, they almost never have a strong affinity to their employer.

Seeking Help

An experienced lawyer will understand this dynamic and use it to their advantage. I understand an insurance company adjuster may have 150 to 200 files to deal with. Often, they won’t know the name of most of the people whose claims they are handling. It’s my job to make my client’s file stand out in such a way that the adjuster wants to resolve the claim. The way to do this is through hard work. I make sure that I’m constantly calling to discuss the case and sending letters with my client’s claim information such as witness statements and medical records.

Often, an overworked adjuster will ask for extra time to evaluate a claim, I rarely agree to such a request. If an adjuster doesn’t evaluate a claim within a specific time period that I’ve set, I will start a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit has been started it will often be assigned to an overworked and underpaid insurance company lawyer. The same rules that apply to litigating a case also applies to pursuing an insurance claim, I always try and outwork the defense lawyer.

Eventually, this strategy yields results. An adjuster or defense attorney will always seek to resolve a claim against an attorney that is making them work as opposed to an attorney that is barely bothering them.

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident and filed a claim with an insurance carrier, you have probably already spoken with an insurance adjuster. For those of you unfamiliar, an insurance adjuster is a representative of an insurance carrier assigned to your claim. The adjuster gathers information about your claim to determine if the carrier is responsible for payments pursuant to your policy and if so, the adjuster calculates the payment and then issues said payment. This process is known as “adjusting a claim.” There are several types of adjusters you will likely have to deal with during the pendency of your motor vehicle accident claim.

Property Damage Adjuster

A property damage adjuster adjusts your property damage claim. Property damage refers to your vehicle and any property that was damaged in the vehicle at the time of the accident. The property adjuster can be employed by either your insurance carrier or the offending vehicle’s insurance carrier depending on which carrier you are making a claim against. Once a property damage claim is started the carrier will assign a claim number along with a property damage adjuster. You should always have your claim number handy when communicating with your adjuster for them to easily access your claim.

Once the property damage adjuster is assigned you must coordinate an inspection of your vehicle and all damaged property. You should not discard the vehicle or any damaged property prior to having the insurance carrier inspect the property. Also, gather any receipts for items that were damaged or receipts for any prior vehicle upgrades that may have increased the value of your vehicle, such as new tires. The inspection is usually done by a qualified expert for the insurance carrier. Once an inspection has been completed the expert will make a list of all damaged items and calculate the price of repairs. This report will be forwarded to your adjuster. You are entitled to the property damage report and I recommend that you obtain a copy. Discuss the report with your auto body shop prior to accepting payment as they may have a different opinion on the damage to the car. If so, you will need to ask for a re-inspection to address those items.

If the damage is too excessive, the adjuster will deem the vehicle a total loss and offer to pay for the current fair market value of the car. This is often called the “book” value as it is usually determined from publications such as Kelley’s Blue Book. The insurance carrier is only responsible to pay for the current fair market value of the car. If you have a car loan and that loan exceeds the value of the car, you will be responsible for the difference. Often, people purchase gap insurance. If you have that type of insurance coverage in your insurance policy, it will cover the difference between the book value of your vehicle and the loan amount.
If there is a disagreement about what the insurance carrier values your vehicle as opposed to you, you do not have to accept the offer. The way this dispute is resolved depends upon which carrier you made a claim with. If the claim was put through your own collision coverage, you can request arbitration. If the claim was put through the offending vehicle’s insurance policy, you can pursue recovery through the court system.

No-Fault Adjuster

A no-fault adjuster is assigned to handle your no-fault claim issues such as medical bills, lost wages and other out of pocket expenses. To recover no-fault medical payments, your healthcare provider must bill the no-fault carrier. You should make sure your health care providers are made aware that your treatment is because of a motor vehicle accident and are provided with the no-fault claim information. Failing to do so may cause your healthcare provider to miss important deadlines to submit medical bills to your carrier, which could cause them to seek payment from you. Also, don’t just assume your carrier will make payments just because you provided your doctors with the proper claim information. If you receive medical bills, contact your adjuster and submit those bills for payment.

No-fault does not preapprove medical treatment. If you seek treatment and that doctor accepts no-fault coverage and your adjuster denies payment stating that the treatment was not medically necessary, your healthcare provider is not allowed to pursue payment from you directly except in very limited situations. It is incumbent on the doctor to resolve that issue with the carrier and not you. Therefore, should you receive collection letters from your doctor’s office for medical bills from your car accident, refer them directly to your carrier to seek payment. Should your doctor refuse and continue pursuing you for payment, hire an attorney to protect your interests.

If your treatment lasts for several months, your no-fault adjuster may request you attend an independent medical exam (IME) to determine if treatment is still necessary. There are generally three outcomes of an IME.

  1. Your treatment may continue as normal.
  2. Your treatment may be terminated.
  3. Your treatment may be reduced.

If treatment is terminated you can use your private health insurance to pay for future treatments.

Your no-fault adjuster will also issue no-fault lost wages up to 80% of your salary up to $2,000 a month provided that you can supply a lost wage verification form from your employer, and a medical note stating you cannot work from a qualified healthcare provider. Once these documents are received by your adjuster, the carrier has 30 days to issue payment. Again, this is something that you must continually follow up on with your doctor, employer, and adjuster to make sure the paperwork is being completed and processed. Don’t assume because you’ve done your part that everyone else will do the same. I’ve seen many employers and doctor’s offices fail to return the forms and many carriers loose paperwork. Further, your adjuster will require updated medical notes every thirty days.

Finally, try to develop a good relationship with your adjuster. The better your relationship, the more likely your payments will be processed quickly.

Bodily Injury Adjuster

Your bodily injury adjuster may be the most important adjuster you will deal with. This adjuster is employed by the offending vehicle’s insurance carrier to adjust your bodily injury claim. Not all motor vehicle accidents will have a bodily injury claim. But if you do, this will be the person that evaluates the claim and decides how much money to offer to settle the case. I advise people that if you have suffered bodily injuries, it is usually best to hire a personal injury attorney to handle the claim. There are rare instances where you may be better off handling this claim on your own.

The bodily injury adjuster will gather the police accident report, witness statements, medical records, lost wages and out of pocket expenses. Once the adjuster has compiled all that information they will evaluate the case. I always advise asking the adjuster to not evaluate a case until all treatment is complete. Once a case has been evaluated an adjuster will decide whether the carrier wants to settle. If so, the adjuster will make an offer to settle. If not, the adjuster will decline to make a settlement offer.

If the adjuster makes a settlement offer, you have a few options. First, you can accept the offer. Second, you can negotiate for more money. Finally, you can skip negotiations and pursue your claim in court by starting a lawsuit. Obviously, I would suggest to never accept an adjuster’s first settlement offer. It’s been my experience in the vast majority of cases I have handled that an adjuster always leaves room to negotiate a claim. There are limits to their ability to offer money to settle a case. The adjuster is usually given a range of money in which to try and settle a case by a supervisor. Once that limit is reached the adjuster will offer no more money.

If an offer was conveyed to you that you feel is insultingly low, it may be best to not even negotiate and just proceed to court. Negotiating an unfair offer never results in reaching an amicable resolution and just delays the inevitable need to go to court.
As a practicing personal injury attorney, I’ve been consulted by prospective clients at all stages of the claim process. Often, when a person receives a low offer they will come to me seeking help. It’s rarely too late to consult with an attorney except in cases where a person has executed a release. Then it’s likely too late.

I’m never surprised at the difference between what an adjuster will offer to settle a case with an inexperienced layperson as opposed to an attorney. I was once consulted by a client that was offered $15,000. After several months of litigation, we were able to obtain 20 times that amount of money. Consulting with an attorney is never a bad idea. Even if you decide to pursue that matter on your own, at least you will receive some valuable pointers.

Finally, no matter what type of adjuster you are dealing with, remember that person is employed by an insurance carrier. No matter how nice they are, ultimately it is their job to minimize the money that you receive for your claim. So, always be wary and do your research before executing any releases.