Be careful when driving through Newburgh. Out-of-town drivers might be tempted to steal glances at the architectural marvels within our historic district. One too many peeks away from the road, and a visitor might suddenly run into you. Terrible as it sounds, in most cases things are going to be okay. It's also unlikely that anyone is going to ram you into the Hudson. The car accident laws of New York often have ways of making people whole and providing for swift recovery. FindLaw provides this guide to help outline the laws and processes that are involved in a Newburgh car accident case.
Stop and Exchange Information
In most cases, any sort of car collision results in property damage and possibly a physical injury. When this happens, each driver involved must stop his/her car (safely) and exchange information. You can be jailed for up to 15 days for failing to do so. If you're involved in a collision with your vehicle, provide your
Report to the Police and DMV
If anyone is injured or killed in a collision, you must immediately notify the police. The law cuts you some slack if the accident prevented you from being able to report the incident. But, in any event, you or your representative should report the accident within 24 hours. Additionally, if the property damage for any one person looks to be over $1,000, each driver is required to file Form MV-104, a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident, with the DMV. You have ten days, and if you fail, your license may be suspended. Note that if two drivers each sustain $600 in damage, you are not required to submit the form.
Two Points To Remember If You Hit a Parked Vehicle
You must stop and provide your information even if the owner of the property isn't around. New York has two legal requirements that are slightly different from what you may find elsewhere. First, if you've lived in other states, you might be familiar with laws that only require you to stop if there's been at least a few hundred dollars in damage. New York law does not have any similar minimum damage requirement. Any property damage should be reported. Second, other states allow you to simply leave a note containing your information for the property owner to find. The Empire State requires you to actually notify the police. So if you scrape another car while pulling into a space at the Newburgh Mall, call the City of Newburgh Police Department's non-emergency line at (845) 561-3131.
See FindLaw's article, After a Car Accident: First Steps, for a general discussion of what to do after a crash.
How to Deal with Injuries
Normally, a driver's own insurance will cover his/her costs related to injuries under New York's "no-fault" insurance system. Notify your provider of a crash ASAP so that you receive money for medical treatment and lost wages. You cannot recover for your "pain and suffering," and neither can you sue another party involved in the accident unless you suffer a serious injury. Your coverage, known as first party benefits, will pay a total of no more than $50,000 to an injured person.
The rules of recovery are different when a party sustains more than $50,000 in injuries or a severe injury, or when one or more parties is not covered by insurance. Given the complexity, it's best to talk to an attorney after a collision.
How to Handle Property Damage
New York state still has the traditional procedure for recovering the costs associated with property damage. In most cases, a driver wishing to recover for property damage must show that another party was acting negligently, or failing to be adequately careful, in the course of causing harm. The amount of recovery will then be reduced by an amount reflecting the driver's own fault. If someone is suing you for negligence related to a collision, you can defend yourself by showing how your opponent was him/herself failing to be as careful as the law requires.
Time Limits for a Lawsuit
You must file a lawsuit for property damage and eligible severe injuries arising from a car accident within three years. It's wise to consult with an attorney beforehand, so that you can do this efficiently and not have your case dismissed. Several attorneys in the Newburgh area specialize in car accidents, and some offer free or low-cost consultations in the beginning, or will only require payment after a favorable settlement or judgment.
Uninsured Motorists and MVAIC
Many insurance policies protect drivers from damage caused by other uninsured motorists. If you do not have such a policy, you may nevertheless be eligible for medical payments and lost wages benefits from the State's Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. Be sure to submit a Notice of Intention to MVAIC within 90 days if an unidentified or hit-and-run motorist caused you harm. You have have 180 days to submit the notice if you know the offender's identity.
Contact a qualified attorney.