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As someone who has represented car accident victims for 20 years, I have seen cases where people will unknowingly do things that can be fatal for a personal injury claim. These are the 5 biggest mistakes that either ruin or significantly reduce the deserved compensation when injured in a car accident.

Speaking to the Other Parties Insurance

After getting into a car accident, it is not unlikely that the other party’s insurance company will contact you after the accident for information. It’s important to be careful about what information you give them. You have three years to file a lawsuit against the company and you are not obligated to speak with them during that time at all. Insurance companies are only going to be looking out for themselves.

Anything you say to them they will try to use against you if possible. They want to justify handing out as little money as possible. This is especially true if you speak to them early on and your injury ends up being worse than it initially seemed. Therefore, the general rule of thumb is to not speak to the insurance company if there is any kind of injury involved. Additionally, if you have hired an attorney, let them speak on your behalf.

Failing to Get Medical Attention Right Away for Injuries

When an accident initially occurs, your body is going to naturally kick into “survival mode” because of the shock of the accident. Your body might initially use adrenaline to subdue any kind of pain or injury. You might initially think that you are ok and any pain you feel really isn’t bad. The problem is the injuries could be much worse than you realize but may take some time for you to notice. Therefore, if you feel any pain after a car accident, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Even though you have three years to sue the insurance company if you have a serious injury following a car accident, your case may be adversely affected if you waited to seek medical attention. The insurance company can make the claim that your injuries are not resulting from the car accident. They will try to say that something else after the accident caused your injury.

Failing to Complete the Proper Paperwork for Your Insurance

In the state of New York, you can get your medical bills and lost wages paid for if a car accident, whether or not it is your fault. What you may not know is that if you do not complete a no fault application within 30 days of the accident, the insurance companies do not need to pay for those bills.

The application, known as Form NF-2, can be downloaded from the New York State Department of Financial Services’ website. The first portion of the form asks for basic information, such as your name, address and phone number. You will also describe the events of the accident. Use the police report for reference when describing the accident.

You should provide a complete list of your injuries. You should even document minor injuries, like scrapes or bruises. Then you should record the health care providers that are treating you along with the claim number so that the insurance companies can pay the correct healthcare providers. Additionally, you should record your proof of employment and proof of disability. The time you missed from work will be incorporated as lost wages.

Using Social Media After the Accident

This is extremely important. Insurance companies will be keeping track of all of your social media trying to gather as much information as possible to use against you. Even if you are private or think you have the correct accounts blocked from your social media, there really is nothing stopping them from being able to see anything you post…even if you delete it. It is actually possible for the judge to allow all of your post history (including deleted posts) to be provided if the insurance company requests it.

The most obvious things you need to avoid is talking about the case at all or talking about the financial struggles the accident has caused you. Don’t post pictures of the scene or pictures of your injury. Don’t even talk about how you are feeling regarding your injury; it can be used against you. You even need to be very careful about posting your day to day activities as it will cause the insurance companies to question how the injury has affected you. A simple night out of dinner with your family could potentially encourage insurance companies to undermine your injury. If you post something like this, there could be little the lawyer can do to help you.

Waiting Too Long to Speak to an Attorney

The closer you speak to an attorney after a car accident, the better. And there are many reasons why. You can remember the events clearly. You can record pictures of your injuries and the scene of the accident. They will also make sure you will receive good medical treatment and ensure that you have the necessary documents. Right when an accident occurs, the insurance companies are already likely building there own investigation to protect themselves. You need an attorney to warn you of the things an insurance company will use against you.

As you can see, a lot can go wrong if you want to file a personal injury claim. A lot of these things you might not even think about as hurting your case. The initial steps are very important and an experienced lawyer will help you build your case. If you have been injured on Long Island, New York, let us help you secure your compensation.

The biggest concern a person will likely have to deal with after sustaining an injury in a motor vehicle accident are medical bills. Just a routine examination in a hospital emergency room following an accident can cost several thousand dollars. If you need to undergo any additional treatment the bills can be astronomical.

1. No Fault Benefits

New York is a no-fault state. Therefore, you will be qualified immediately following your accident for no-fault benefits. Further, since New York is a no-fault state your car insurance coverage will be your primary source of insurance coverage for your medical treatment. This means that all medical bills must be submitted to the no-fault carrier for payment. Any bills submitted to your private health insurance will be denied if no-fault insurance is available to you.

The only exception to this rule is if you are in a motor vehicle accident while at work. For example, if you are making a delivery for your job and are rear-ended. In a scenario where you are injured during the course of your employment, workers compensation insurance will become the primary insurance policy and no-fault will be secondary. However, if you are on your way to work or on your way home from work and off the clock, no-fault will still be your primary insurance.

No-fault insurance will cover all of your medical bills up to $50,000 or if you are terminated from coverage, as per an Independent Medical Exam. Therefore, sometimes, you may need medical treatment but no longer have no-fault benefits to pay for that treatment. In this situation, you will be left with a few options. First, you can submit your medical bills to your health insurance carrier. The carrier will likely want to see a denial from no-fault before agreeing to pay for medical treatment.

2. Medicaid & Medicare

If you are a Medicaid recipient you can submit your medical bills to that entity once no-fault is denied. There are two issues I see arise with this situation. First, not all doctors accept Medicaid. Therefore, you might need to switch healthcare providers. While this is inconvenient, it is better than the alternative of receiving no treatment. The second issue that arises is that unlike no-fault, Medicaid must be reimbursed for medical payments should you receive a settlement.

Medicare works similar to Medicaid in that it will cover medical expenses once your no-fault benefits are denied. Also, like Medicaid, if a settlement is reached, Medicare will be entitled to reimbursement for its expenditures.

3. Healthcare Provider

Another option to get medical bills paid is to approach the healthcare provider about accepting a lien on your personal injury settlement. I often can get a healthcare provider to continue treating a client while their case is proceeding and await settlement before receiving payment. Obviously, this will not be an option if you are not pursuing a bodily injury settlement. It is also likely a last resort as it is always better to get an insurance company to pay for the treatment up front because they are only entitled to repayment if you receive a settlement. On the other hand, a doctor’s lien will usually stipulate that you are responsible for the bill should there be no settlement.

4. Personal Injury Lawyer

The last option for getting medical bills paid is through a personal injury lawsuit. If another person causes your injuries, they are responsible for any economic damages associated with that injury, including medical bills not covered by no-fault. There is a caveat to this rule. It must be proven that you have suffered a “serious injury” from the motor vehicle accident before the responsible party is required to pay for your economic losses. “Serious injury” is defined by a law.

Finally, should you run into any problems with receiving medical payments, it is always a good idea to speak with an attorney. They can often solve the problem and get you reimbursed for your losses.

New York is one of twelve states that have enacted no-fault laws. Each state’s no-fault laws vary. So, if you are not familiar with New York’s no-fault laws, this blog may be helpful. The purpose of New York’s no-fault laws is to ensure that car accident victims receive compensation for accident-related medical bills, lost wages and other incidentals regardless of fault. The insurance carrier of the vehicle you are occupying will pay those costs regardless of fault. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist, those expenses will be borne by the insurance carrier of the vehicle that comes into contact with you.

How to receive no-fault benefits

To qualify for no-fault benefits, you must be a motor vehicle operator, passenger, pedestrian or bicyclist. Motorcyclists are not eligible for no-fault coverage. Also, to receive benefits, all qualified parties must complete a no-fault application with the proper insurance carrier within 30 days of the accident. Failure to do so may result in the denial of your no-fault benefits. I always advise people to complete the application and mail it certified return receipt requested. This ensures that the carrier cannot dispute it was filed promptly.

The insurance carrier will mail the application to you once the accident is reported to them. In some instances, you may not immediately know which insurance carrier is responsible for your no-fault benefits. For example, a pedestrian will likely not know the carrier of the vehicle that struck them. In such instances, insurance information can be obtained from the police accident report.

Also, if the insurance carrier responsible for your no-fault claim is not your own company and you have no-fault insurance on one of your household vehicles, I would advise completing an application with your own carrier within the 30-day deadline. This will give you an added layer of insurance should the vehicle that is responsible turn out to be uninsured.

What does no-fault insurance cover?

No fault insurance will generally cover all of your accident-related expenses.
However, certain limits will apply. First, New York requires at least $50,000 dollars’ worth of no-fault coverage. A person may purchase additional no-fault coverage and would be wise to do so considering the cost of medical treatments. Out of that pool of money, you will receive payments for medical expenses, lost wages, household help, and transportation to and from medical appointments.

Generally, all healthcare providers accept no-fault insurance. Further, there are no deductibles or copayments. Also, you don’t need referrals. But, since a few providers do not accept no-fault insurance, as a precaution you should always confirm before receiving treatment. I advise providing the doctor’s office with your no-fault claim number at the time that you schedule your appointment. This way there is no confusion with the healthcare provider about how they are being compensated. There is nothing worse than showing up at a doctor’s office only to be turned away because of an insurance issue.

If you were taken to a hospital on the date of your accident, it is likely that you did not have a no-fault claim started before receiving treatment. I recommend that you immediately contact the hospital once you file your claim so they can bill the proper insurance carrier. If you fail to do this, the hospital will bill you directly. Also, if any bill is not submitted to the no-fault carrier within a reasonable time, it can be denied. That could mean you could be left on the hook for that bill.

Should your no-fault benefits be exhausted before you complete treatment, you must use your own personal healthcare insurance to pay for medical treatments. Unfortunately, this will mean you will incur customary deductibles and may need to obtain referrals as per your private health insurance agreement.

No-fault insurance will also cover up to 80% of your accident-related lost wages up to two thousand dollars a month. To receive this benefit, you must provide a doctor’s note from a treating physician attesting to the fact that you cannot work. Your employer must also provide a wage verification form, as well. The carrier has up to 30 days to provide wage payments once the documentation is submitted. You must submit the wage verification form to your employer. Be sure to follow up with them to make sure it is returned to your insurance carrier. You can obtain the form from your insurance carrier. I always recommend that you continue to follow up with the adjuster to make sure that they have all the documents necessary to start your payments. The adjuster will also request updated doctor notes periodically.

For some people, the no-fault maximum lost wage benefit will not adequately reimburse them for their lost wages. For example, if you earn more than two thousand dollars a month, you will be receiving less than your full paycheck. It is best to keep track of your unreimbursed lost wages. If you file a claim against the at-fault driver, it’s possible to get reimbursed for those unreimbursed lost wages.

Finally, no-fault insurance will cover up to twenty-five dollars per day of accident-related expenses for such things as travel and household help. Again, you must submit proof to your no-fault carrier of such expenses prior to reimbursement.

Independent Medical Examinations

An Independent Medical Exam (IME) is a physical examination with a doctor
hired by a no-fault insurance provider. The exam determines whether you still need medical treatment. The term “Independent” is used to describe the exam, but as you can imagine there is an incentive for the medical doctor to find you no longer need treatment since it is the insurance carrier hiring the doctor.

The independent medical doctor only has the power to terminate or reduce treatment in that doctor’s specific area of expertise. For example, an orthopedist cannot terminate or reduce your treatment with your treating neurologist. Further, the insurance carrier must provide you a claim denial accompanied by the doctor’s written report before your benefits for any particular medical discipline can be terminated.

Further, terminating your medical benefits may also result in termination of your lost wage payments. For example, if your orthopedic doctor has provided the written proof of your inability to work and an orthopedic IME doctor finds you no longer need treatment, your lost wages will stop.

If you disagree with the independent doctor’s decision following your exam, there is an appeals process. You can request an arbitration with an independent arbitrator. However, the process is complicated, time-consuming and takes several months to schedule. This may be impractical for someone undergoing active treatment. I generally recommend that once no-fault benefits are terminated by the carrier that my clients use their private health insurance to pay for medical treatments. The private carrier may want to see the no-fault denial prior to paying for medical bills.

Generally speaking, no-fault insurance can be quite complicated. Most attorneys that handle personal injury cases will also handle all of your no-fault issues. However, be aware that there may be an additional charge for such services.

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.

Getting injured in a car accident can be physically, emotionally and financially debilitating. One main concern an injured person can have is the time off of work required to recover from their injury. Those weeks or months a person may need to take off from work are crucial to a person’s financial stability. However, whether you are a bicyclist, a pedestrian, a driver or a passenger in a vehicle; you are eligible to receive lost wages through No-Fault insurance coverage while you recover from your injury.

The No-Fault Law

The No-Fault Law was created to pay for medical costs and lost wages for someone who’s been injured in a car accident regardless of who is at fault for the accident. This quickens the process of a person getting the immediate financial coverage needed to prevent financially crippling a person after an accident. Rather than having a lawsuit every time there is a car accident, injured people in the state of New York can have a portion of their salary paid for regardless of whether or not they are at fault. New York is 1 of only 12 states that uses No-Fault laws.

>To receive these lost wages covered by No-Fault, you’ll have to send your insurance company proof of employment (wage verification) and proof from a doctor that you are unable to work due to the injury resulting from the accident. If you are self-employed, insurance companies generally ask for tax returns spanning back 2-3 years or bank statements to provide proof of employment.

No-Fault will cover up to $50,000 in medical expenses and lost wages until that amount of coverage is exhausted. For lost wages, No-Fault will pay 80% of your income, but only up to $2,000 a month. For many New Yorkers, that coverage is not enough. Many of us, especially on Long Island, need more than $2000 a month to keep up with our expenses.

Insurance Companies Have A Lot Of Red Tape

Sometimes it can be really difficult to receive that No-Fault coverage from your insurance companies. You only have 30 days from the time of the accident to make a claim for No-Fault coverage. Additionally, there is a lot of paperwork that they may send your way for you to receive the compensation. One incomplete form or one missed doctor’s appointment gives the insurance company grounds to deny your claim. This of course would ultimately save them money. That’s why it’s so important to consult with a lawyer who handles No-Fault insurance so they can stay on top of the paperwork needed to get that coverage.

Another Source Of Reimbursement

The No-Fault coverage of $50,000 can be far from enough to pay for all of your medical bills and lost wages, especially if you are seriously injured. Medical bills can take up a large portion of that money, so an injury with a long recovery will exhaust that $50,000 before a person can return to work.

Another solution could be if you meet New York State’s threshold for having a “Serious Injury”. If you are considered to have a serious injury, you become able to make a claim against the insurance company of the person who was at-fault for the accident to reimburse all of your losses from the injury with their Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage. This includes all of your lost wages, medical bills, home modifications and even emotional impacts such as pain and suffering.

Therefore, there are ways to be compensated for lost income that exceeds the No-Fault coverage limit of $2,000 per month. An experienced personal injury attorney can help make sure you’re compensated for the total amount of your losses.

Don’t Return To Work Until Doctor Approved

If you don’t have an employment contract, employers are not legally required to keep you employed while you are out on disability recovering from your injury. Therefore, you might think it would be best to return to work as soon as you think you are ready. Keep in mind, this can present several issues. If you truly believe you are ready to return to work, it is best to check with your doctor first. The reason being is that once you go back to work, you will stop being reimbursed for lost wages from No-Fault. So, if you return and are not able to perform, you will have to start over with the insurance company to restart your lost wages.

Summing It Up

Dealing with an injury can be particularly overwhelming, and it’s frustrating when it wasn’t even your fault. That’s why experienced personal injury law firms go out of their way to help others when they are faced with a serious injury. An experienced lawyer will help you regain your financial losses and help you with the potential obstacles that go along with it.

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.