New York City Car Accident Lawyer
Auto Accidents in Brooklyn & the Nearby Areas
Every year, thousands of Americans die and countless more are injured in traffic-related accidents. Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that, despite fewer overall vehicles on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was one of the deadliest years for motorists in more than a decade, with accident fatalities rising by 7%. In New York City, approximately 243 people died in motor vehicle accidents, marking the deadliest year since at least 2014.
Motor vehicle accidents should never occur, but they continue to happen when drivers and others on the road are negligent. If you or someone you love was involved in a traffic collision caused by another person’s careless, reckless, or wrongful conduct, you deserve justice, and Rubenstein & Rynecki can help you fight for the fair compensation you are owed so that you can get back on your feet.
Based in Brooklyn, our New York City car accident lawyers have been serving injured victims and the families of those wrongfully killed in motor vehicle crashes since 1972. Our firm has been recognized since its founding in 1996 as one that goes above and beyond for its clients. We are proud to offer our clients the compassionate, attentive care they deserve and the personalized, aggressive advocacy they need. We can help you navigate New York’s complex car accident laws and help you file a claim for compensation. If necessary, we are even ready to represent you in court.
On This Page:
- How Our Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
- What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in NYC?
- What to Do If You Are Involved in an Accident
- Why You Should Collect Witness Information After a Car Accident
- How Is Liability Determined in New York Car Accident Cases?
- How Does No-Fault Insurance Work in New York?
- When to Go to Trial and When to Settle a Car Accident Lawsuit
- New York's Car Accident Statute of Limitations
- New York Car Accident FAQ
- Contact Rubenstein & Rynecki for a Free Consultation
How Our Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you were injured or your loved one died in a car accident, it is in your best interests to hire a car accident attorney who can advocate for the fair recovery you are owed. New York car accident laws are complex and filing a claim can be difficult without the right legal team by your side.
At Rubenstein & Rynecki, we have decades of experience helping victims of all types of auto accidents, including those involving:
- Excessive speeds
- Distracted driving and cell phone use
- Drunk drivers
- Drowsy drivers
- Rear-end collisions
- Stop light and stop sign collisions
- Multi-vehicle pileups
- Intersection collisions
- Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc.) vehicles
- ATVs and RVs
- Large trucks
- Commercial vehicles
- Roadway defects
We have successfully represented victims of minor and major accidents, including collisions leading to serious, catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and whiplash. We understand the many challenges present in these types of claims, and we have what it takes to help you navigate the legal system. Our team will handle all the legal details so that you can focus on your physical recovery.
At Rubenstein & Rynecki, we represent victims of auto accidents on a contingency-fee basis. This means you owe us nothing unless we recover damages for your injuries; if our attorneys do not recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf, you do not pay.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in NYC?
Of the thousands of car accidents that occur in New York City each month, most are caused by driver negligence, according to the New York Police Department.
These were what the NYPD found to be the most common contributing causes in car accidents:
- Driver Inattention or Distraction: Driver inattention and distraction, including texting while driving, is consistently one of—if not the—leading causes of car accidents in New York City. According to data from the NYPD, in 2020, distracted driving accounted for 2,718 accidents (of 3,199 total) in New York City in the single month of October. A driver’s focus might be diverted from the road for any number of reasons, such as talking, eating, looking at the GPS, or adjusting the radio. A driver’s failure to concentrate on the road can cause the vehicle to swerve into a different lane, sideswipe another vehicle, or rear-end the car in front.
- Following Too Closely: Another common cause of auto accidents in NYC is following too closely, or “tailgating.” This often occurs in congested or bumper-to-bumper traffic. Drivers’ failure to ensure that a reasonably safe distance is kept between their vehicle and the car ahead of them can lead to rear-end collisions. Following too closely also can lead to chain-reaction accidents, in which several cars collide into each other in sequence.
- Failure to Yield: A driver’s failure to yield to a vehicle with the right of way at one of New York City’s countless intersections can result in a collision that leads to severe injuries. According to the same data from the NYPD, in October 2020, there were 690 accidents due at least in part to a driver’s failure to yield. In addition, there were 309 collisions resulting from drivers’ disregard of stop signs or traffic lights.
- Improper Passing or Lane Usage: Hundreds of serious collisions are caused by drivers failing to use proper signals, check their blind spots, or otherwise exercise caution while passing another vehicle. Many more result from vehicles passing more closely than traffic conditions permit, as well as unsafe lane changes.
- Speeding and Reckless Driving: Traveling at unsafe speeds accounts for hundreds of serious accidents every single month in New York City. Dozens more involve aggressive driving or road rage. In many of these incidents, alcohol consumption is also a factor.
Other common causes of car accidents in New York City include hazardous road conditions, inclement weather, faulty road design, improper maintenance, and auto defects. Discerning who or what caused an accident is an important step in determining who is legally responsible for your injuries.
Motorists and passengers who sustained injuries in car accidents due to another driver’s negligence or carelessness may be entitled to recover compensation for medical expenses, time lost from work, and additional out-of-pocket expenses not covered by no-fault insurance. They may also be eligible to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, by stepping outside the no-fault system. Contact our New York City car accident lawyers to learn more, including how we can help you seek fair compensation for your damages.
What to Do If You Are Involved in an Accident
Should you be involved in a traffic accident, there are steps you can take protect yourself, your passengers, and your legal rights.
If you are involved in an accident, try to do the following:
- Remain at the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident without identifying yourself and/or providing reasonable aid to others is a crime in New York.
- Move your vehicle out of traffic, if possible. Place flares or fluorescent triangles to divert traffic. Otherwise, do not disturb the accident scene.
- Call 911 if anyone is injured and wait for paramedics to arrive. Do not attempt to move anyone (including yourself) who appears seriously injured.
- Have the police come out to the scene and give the responding officer an accurate account of events. Learn how you can obtain an accident report.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accidents. You should try to get their name(s), driver’s license number, contact information, and insurance information.
- Document the scene of the accident and preserve any evidence. Take photos of the accident scene, as well as your property/vehicle damage and injuries.
- If anyone witnessed the crash, try to get their name(s) and contact information. This may be critical for the success of your future claim or lawsuit.
- Write down everything you can remember about the accident as soon as possible, including when, where, and how the collision happened.
- Get medical treatment immediately, for safety’s sake and to establish a record of your injuries. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, you should still see a doctor.
- If anyone was injured, killed, or there was property damage to one person in excess of $1,000, you must report the accident within 10 days. You can download the appropriate form here.
- Call your insurance company and notify them about the accident. However, you should avoid talking to the other person’s insurance provider and do not accept a settlement offer.
- Finally, call a New York City personal injury attorney at our firm. Rubenstein & Rynecki can assist you in filing your claim, dealing with the insurance company, and ensuring your rights are protected.
The earlier we begin working on your case, the sooner we can begin preparing your claim for compensation. Your account of what you observed is vital information that our attorneys will use to assess your case. By reviewing the police report, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing skid marks and other physical evidence, our accident specialists and expert witnesses can establish the underlying cause of the accident and the parties responsible.
Why You Should Collect Witness Information After a Car Accident
While speaking to witnesses might be one of the last things on your mind after a car accident, doing so can actually be helpful to your future claim or lawsuit. So many car accident cases come down to pitting one driver’s word against the other’s; having a witness available could provide some much-needed third-party insight into the accident’s details.
In fact, when you file an accident claim with your insurance provider, one of the first questions you are bound to hear is, “Were there any witnesses present?” Insurance adjusters need to piece together an accurate version of the events that took place when determining what will be covered under the claim, and without a witness to give a third-party account, the adjuster is left to compare stories from both drivers and determine which one seems more credible.
Of course, the credibility of your witness is also extremely important. Here are a few of the factors that affect witness credibility:
- The location of the witness during the accident (Were they in another car or on the street or sidewalk?)
- Whether the witness saw the accident in its entirety or just a portion of the crash
- Whether or not the witness had a chance to watch a car before the accident to see if it was speeding
- Whether or not the witness was distracted
- Whether the witness is relying on observations made individually or was influenced by other witnesses’ observations
- The general character of the witness
- The witness’s physical condition and any possible disabilities
In the immediate aftermath of your accident, you do not need to worry about whether a witness is credible—that is for investigators to determine later. Simply record the contact information of any witnesses available at the scene so that you have their testimony to rely on later if needed.
How Is Liability Determined in New York Car Accident Cases?
New York law assigns liability based on each party’s percentage of negligence in an accident. If the court assigns you a percentage of fault for the crash, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your at-fault percentage. Under the state’s pure comparative negligence rule, you do not need to prove that you were less to blame than the other driver to bring a claim.
It is important to note that, when you allow another person to drive your car in New York, you are liable for any damages resulting from an accident they cause. Additionally, when you drive your car at the request of your employer to do work-related tasks, your employer may bear some liability for a car accident that occurs during that time.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work in New York?
New York enacted no-fault insurance laws to help accident victims recover their medical costs and other related expenses so that they can be restored to health as soon as possible. The system also has the purpose of reducing lawsuits over minor injuries and property damages to lighten court case loads. Under the no-fault system, you do not need to prove that the other driver was to blame for the accident to seek compensation; instead, you can file a claim with your own insurance provider and be covered for certain losses following the crash.
Your no-fault insurance covers medical costs, 80 percent of your lost wages, and other "reasonable and necessary expenses” related to your injuries. No-fault insurance pays up to $50,000 per victim to cover basic economic losses—but it does not cover pain and suffering damages.
To recover for your pain and suffering, you must prove that another party was negligent and that you sustained a “serious” injury.
As defined by New York Insurance Law, a serious injury falls into one of these categories:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined non-permanent injury or impairment that prevented performance of all usual and customary daily activities for 90 out of 180 days following the accident
If you suffer a serious injury, our legal team will move aggressively to build a compelling case for your recovery.
When to Go to Trial and When to Settle a Car Accident Lawsuit
Most auto accident lawyers strongly suggest you do not accept any settlement offers from an insurance company after a car accident until a full economic projection of your future costs can be made. You should also limit your conversations with insurers so as not to misstate matters of fault. Insurance companies are adept at leveraging information that can be to the disadvantage of claimants. While it makes sense to engage an attorney in serious car accident cases, this does not necessarily mean you should go to trial. In fact, about 95 percent of cases never do actually go before a judge—and sometimes, a settlement will be reached in the middle of the trial.
The use of an attorney accomplishes several things:
- It prevents you from making mistakes in what you say and what you settle for with your insurer.
- You get the help of experts, in particular an economist who can predict the future costs of your injuries (medical and therapeutic care, as well as the effects on your ability to earn a living and the future costs of housing, food, and other expenses).
- It sends a message to your insurer that you are serious about your case.
In many cases, when to settle sometimes boils down to the individual, their needs, and their unique situation. If the plaintiff absolutely needs money sooner rather than later—perhaps they are living with a terminal illness—an earlier settlement might make sense. In some cases, however, it may be more prudent to fight for a better settlement or verdict.
New York’s Car Accident Statute of Limitations
Your time to take legal action after a car accident in New York is limited. In most cases, you typically have three years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver or drivers. If a person dies in the crash, the victim’s family generally has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit in court.
If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, your case will likely be dismissed and you will be unable to recover compensation for your injuries. Since New York’s statute of limitations laws are complex and can be extended or shortened in rare circumstances, it is important you get an attorney involved early on after a collision to ensure your compliance with all applicable legal deadlines. The sooner you retain the services of an attorney, the sooner they can begin building the strongest possible case on your behalf.
It is also important to note that these deadlines only apply to lawsuits. Most insurance claims related to car accidents must be filed within a few days of the collision to be eligible for coverage.
New York Car Accident FAQ
Will I have to go to court?
Possibly, but it is highly unlikely. The vast majority of car accident cases end up being resolved in the form of an out-of-court settlement. You will only need to appear in court if your case ends up going to trial, which may be necessary if a settlement cannot be reached ahead of time. This can happen if the defendant’s insurance company refuses to offer an amount that fully compensates you for your injuries, if there is a significant dispute over who is liable for the crash, or if there is particularly complex case law that applies to your situation. While a trial can sometimes yield a greater award, there is always the chance you will lose at trial and leave empty handed. Our attorneys will advise you of your legal options and let you know if a trial is in your best interests to maximize your chances of securing a favorable outcome.
I am partially at fault. Do I still have a case?
Possibly, yes. New York operates under a “pure comparative fault” law. In short, this means that each party involved in a car accident lawsuit regardless of their level of fault, though a person’s eligible compensation will be reduced proportionally. For example, say you were injured in a crash that caused you to suffer $100,000 worth of damages. At trial, the jury finds you to be 20% at fault for the crash because you were speeding. Under New York’s pure comparative fault rules, you would be eligible to receive up to $8,000 in compensation (or $100,000 less 20%).
How long will my car accident case take?
Every case is unique and will follow its own timeline, therefore it is impossible to predict how long it will take to resolve. In most cases, a car accident case can take anywhere between one to three years to resolve. More complex cases involving multiple vehicles and insurance companies can take several years to litigate.
How much is my car accident case worth?
Just as every car accident case follows its own timeline, each case will have a different value based on its own unique circumstances. Generally speaking, your case’s value will be dependent on factors like the severity and long-term impact of your injuries, how long you’re unable to work after being hurt, the amount of insurance coverage available, and the negotiation skills of your attorney.
How much does it cost to hire a NYC car accident lawyer?
Nobody should be barred from seeking compensation after a car accident due to financial hardship. Rubenstein & Rynecki handles car accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not pay anything upfront for our services. Instead of a retainer or hourly rate, our attorneys will receive a portion of any settlement or jury award we secure on your behalf. If we are not successful, you will not pay us a dime.
Contact Rubenstein & Rynecki for a Free Consultation
With decades of experience and hundreds of millions of dollars recovered in compensation for our clients, we at Rubenstein & Rynecki have the skills, resources, and know-how to help you through the process of filing a car accident claim and seeking fair financial compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys prioritize client communication and personalized service; we are always available and accessible to you.
Our firm provides legal services in English, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Greek, and Creole, and we do not collect any attorney fees unless/until we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf.