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Phone: 631-424-6850 | Fax: 631-424-0636

Call us at (631) 424-6850 for more information.

Personal injuryQ: Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?

A: If you are the victim of another person's negligence or carelessness, you may be eligible to receive money damages. You may be able to collect for medical bills, lost wages, permanent injuries, disabilities, punitive damages, or the death of a loved one.

In a personal injury case, our attorneys must first prove that an injury (not necessarily physical) has occurred. In addition, it must be proven that the defendant is responsible for those injuries, through an act of carelessness, negligence, or maliciousness. In the event of a death within the family, surviving family members can file a wrongful death suit.

Q: Why Shouldn't I Deal with Insurance Companies on My Own?

A: Accident victims should not go it alone. It is important to seek an accomplished personal injury attorney. Insurance companies are usually publicly held businesses and, answerable to stockholders, and, as such, do not have your best interests at heart. The insurance company, as a business, collects as many premiums as possible and pays out as few claims as possible. Insurance companies have teams of experts, lawyers, paralegals, claim adjustors, etc. that are trained to minimize or outright deny your claim. At Silverstein & Kahn, our experienced personal injury attorneys know how to work with - and against - insurance companies and have successfully settled many personal injury lawsuits. We have 40 years of combined experience, successfully dealing with Insurance Companies.

Q: I was injured but may have been partly at fault. Can I still sue?

A: Yes. Under New York's comparative negligence rules, you may still have a case even though you were partly at fault in the accident. The possibility of recovery varies from case to case, and requires careful analysis of the facts and law by an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Q: How much do you charge?

A: For personal injury claims, there is no legal fee unless we collect money damages for you. Personal injury attorneys customarily get paid a percentage of the money recovered, called a contingent fee. This means that your personal injury lawyer gets paid at the end of your case, whether you recover money through early settlement or jury verdict. In most cases, the lawyers fee is one-third of the total settlement or jury verdict.

A personal injury attorney advances expenses on the case and will recover those at the case conclusion, and the client is responsible for these, win or lose. But the client pays no attorney fee unless money is recovered. And a good attorney will usually be able to tell at the beginning of your case if he or she believes that you can win.

Q: What are typical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit and who is responsible to pay these expenses?

A: In New York personal injury lawsuits, filing fees usually total less than $500. Other expenses include process servers, investigations, and obtaining your medical records. We do our best to limit expenses, by fighting for quick settlements, whenever possible. There is no requirement that a law suit be filed in order to recover money damages as a result of an accident. Many times, we are successful in negotiating a quick resolution to a claim, with associated expenses of less then $50. A personal injury attorney advances expenses on the case and will recover those at the case conclusion, and the client is responsible for these, win or lose. But the client pays no attorney fee unless money is recovered. An experienced attorney will usually be able to tell at the beginning of your case if he or she believes that you can win.

Q: What is the process?

A: After initial consultation, we will send out a claim letter on your behalf advising the insurance company of our representation of you. Upon receiving this "letter of representation", the insurance company can no longer contact you directly. All communication must be through our office, thereby freeing you to concentrate on your rehabilitation. Next we will obtain all your medical records. Once your treatment is complete, we will forward your complete package of medical records and other supporting documentation to the Insurance Company. The negotiation process then begins. If the Insurance Company refuses to make voluntary payment, or tries to negotiate in bad faith, we then file a lawsuit. For the next few months we then exchange paperwork with the insurance company attorneys. Next come depositions, where all parties can tell their side of the story, under oath, prior to the trial. Soon after depositions are completed the insurance company might request that you be examined by a doctor of their choosing (an IME). Last is trial. Throughout the process, Silverstein & Kahn will fight for a fair settlement. Your case can settle, with your consent, at any time prior to trial.

Q: How much is my case worth?

A: Every case is different. We have to consider various factors to assess the value of your case. There are two major factors in determining the value of your case. First is liability (who is at fault). Second is damages, or what is the value of your injuries.

Furthermore, in personal injury lawsuits, a settlement will be reached if you can agree with the insurance company about the value of a case. The insurance companies, in evaluating your claim, will look at your medical bills, length of treatment, frequency of treatment, whether or not there is any permanent disability, whether or not you will need any future treatment, and whether or not you will have any future medical bills.

Insurance companies will also carefully evaluate your loss of earnings claim. Were you employed at the time of the accident? Did you lose significant time from work? Are you able to return to work at all? Were you unable to return to school, or attend school as a result of your injuries? Your future damages are important. How old are you? If you are in your 30s, you have approximately a 50 year life expectancy. That means you are entitled to claim pain and suffering and loss of earnings for a longer period of time than someone who is 50 with the same permanent personal injury and disability.

Q: What is "No-Fault" insurance?

A: "No-Fault" insurance, pays your medical bills and part of your lost wages for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident, no matter who caused the accident. In certain circumstances No-Fault insurance covers medical and hospital expenses, prescriptions, housekeeping services (if a doctor confirms the necessity), taxis to medical appointments, and pays a portion of your lost wages, no matter who caused the accident. Your injury must be caused by a motor vehicle accident al though you may be a pedestrian or bicycle rider when hurt. Most people involved in an automobile accident in New York State, even pedestrians, can get No-Fault benefits. If you are hurt in an automobile accident, you should get the benefits, which do not compensate you for pain and suffering, just for economic loss. (However, if you were working at the time of the accident, you may be eligible for Workers' Compensation.) No-Fault benefits do not last indefinitely and there are procedures for your insurance company to cancel the benefits.

Additionally, there are certain forms that must be filed with the No-Fault insurance carrier immediately as short time deadlines apply which could jeopardize your claim for No-Fault benefits. These deadlines can be as short as thirty days from the date of your accident. If you are injured in a car accident, you should quickly contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

Q: How Long Should a Personal Injury Case Take to Settle?

A: Many factors determine whether a case can be settled in a matter of months, or a matter of years.

The client affects the duration of a personal injury lawsuit by the length of medical treatment and his/her decision to either settle or to take a risk on a potentially higher recovery resulting from a trial. The length of treatment is important because normally a case should not be settled until the patient has received the maximum benefit of post accident treatment and a long term prognosis for the injury is possible. A fast settlement benefits us as well as our clients, and consequently we strive to negotiate good settlements as quickly as possible. Sometimes, however, despite all our arguments, legal motions, correspondence, investigations, and court appearances, the insurance carrier does not offer an adequate amount for settlement. On these occasions our personal injury attorneys are prepared to go to trial. Naturally the further along a case goes in litigation, the longer we have to deal with the back log in the courts, and the more time a case will take. Cases that settle without litigation usually do so within six months to a year and a half. With litigation a case can last somewhat longer. Claims with severe injuries usually take longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

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