Personal Injury FAQs
After a serious accident, you may be concerned about how you will pay your doctor’s bills and take time off work to recover. If you are injured through the fault of another party, you should consult a seasoned Syracuse personal injury attorney. Below are some common personal injury FAQs.
Another person may be held responsible for your losses in an accident if you can establish that his or her negligence caused your injuries. To prove negligence, you will need to show: (1) the defendant owed you a duty to use reasonable care, (2) the defendant breached the duty to use reasonable care, (3) this breached caused your injuries, and (4) you suffered actual damages.
No. In fact, it’s wiser not to talk to the other party’s insurance adjustor until you’ve retain a seasoned personal injury attorney who is on your side. The other party’s insurance adjustor may be friendly, but she is not looking out for your best interests. She will be looking for ways in which you are at fault so that there is less exposure for the other party.
Yes. However, the defendant, his attorney, and his insurer will be looking to see if the doctrine of comparative negligence applies. Under this doctrine, your damages will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. When comparative negligence is raised, the jury will determine the damages and then assign a percentage of fault to the parties involved. For example, if your damages are $100,000 and each party is 50% responsible, you can only recover $50,000 from the other party and must bear the responsibility for the remainder of losses yourself.
In New York, multiple at-fault defendants can be held jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff’s economic damages. When defendants are found liable for an accident, they are individually responsible for 100% of a plaintiff’s economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, regardless of their individual degree of fault. This rule can be especially beneficial to accident victims when one or more defendants are uninsured or underinsured. However, for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, a personal injury defendant that is less than 50% responsible will face only several liability for a plaintiff’s noneconomic damages. For example, a defendant who is only 25% responsible for an accident will be jointly liable for the entire defendants’ share of the economic damages, but only individual liable for 25% of the noneconomic damages.
In most cases, if you can establish liability, you can recover compensatory damages. These are damages meant to return you to where you would have been if the accident had not occurred. Compensatory damages can include medical bills, lost wages, replacement services, alterations to the home, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium. Where a defendant engaged in egregious misconduct, you may be eligible for punitive damages, which are meant to punish and deter future similar misconduct. Usually punitive damages will not be available for motor vehicle accident cases, unless drunk driving is involved.
Each case is different. In most cases, damages are divided into economic losses and noneconomic losses. Economic losses are tangible, documented harms like lost wages and medical bills. Generally, your economic losses can be determined ahead of time by collecting all your documentation and calculating the financial cost of present and future hospital fees, doctor bills, rehabilitative services and lost or diminished income. Noneconomic losses, however, can vary dramatically from person-to-person and case-to-case. What you can recover for noneconomic losses depends on what harm a jury believes flowed from your injuries based on your personal characteristics and the presentation of those losses by your attorney. The composition of the jury can make a difference to the value of noneconomic damages as well. You may be able to get punitive damages in cases that involve intentional or willful misbehavior, but the amount, if any, is hard to predict.
If you are injured in an accident caused by another in Syracuse, you may be able to recover damages. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we provide tough and compassionate legal representation to accident victims in Rochester, Syracuse, and other cities in Upstate New York, including in Oneida, Cooperstown, Auburn, Lyons, Canandaigua, Oswego, Binghamton, Wampsville, Watertown, Ithaca, Elmira, Herkimer, Utica, and Lowville. Contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 315-479-9000 or by completing our online form.