Personal Injury Law in New York
What damages can I recover for a personal injury claim in New York?
You are entitled to recover for any actual damages that were proximately caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. Actual damages refer to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never taken place. You can recover for losses such as costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, property damage, car rental expenses, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries.
You are also entitled to noneconomic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, physical impairment, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (disruption of your personal relationship with your spouse), etc. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for reckless or malicious conduct and deter others from similar conduct. Considering someone’s ill intent is difficult to prove, they are only awarded in rare cases.
In certain instances, damages may be awarded to families of injured claimants for loss of care, companionship, love and affection. Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages may include medical and burial expenses, loss of income that would have supported the family members, and contributions the deceased would have made in the way of comfort, assistance, advice, protection, companionship, etc.
How do I decide if I need to hire an attorney for a personal injury claim in New York?
An attorney may or may not be necessary depending on the amount of injury that occurred and the complexity of the claim. Small claims court in New York will handle claims up to $3000. If your injury is a minor one that will not result in any incapacity, or substantial medical care, then you may be able to settle it yourself in small claims court.
An attorney should be consulted if you have been seriously injured or are unsure as to the outcome of your injury. Many personal injury cases can become complicated and an attorney may be recommended both for their knowledge and your claims success. In such cases, an attorney will have the legal expertise, time and resources to effectively handle your claim.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to accurately analyze the value of your case and will be able to meet all of the rules, requirements and deadlines that have to be met. Also of note is the fact that statistics show insurance companies pay more than twice as much compensation when an attorney is involved in your claim. The insurance company representing the party at fault is working against you and its goal is to pay you as little as possible to settle your claim. An attorney may be an asset in helping you counter that objective.
How much will an attorney cost for a personal injury claim in New York?
Most attorneys who believe a case has merit will take the case without payment up front. The case will usually be taken on a contingency basis, which means the attorney will receive a percentage of your award if and when you recover for your injuries. Contingency fees average between 25 and 40 percent of the amount you are awarded. Most attorneys charge a smaller percentage if the case is settled before the attorney does all the work necessary to go to trial. If you and your attorney agree to a contingency fee, the attorney must put the agreement in writing and provide you with a signed copy. Some attorneys may charge an hourly fee or a flat fee for their services.
Out of pocket expenses may be added to a flat fee or contingency fee for expenses such as filing fees, deposition fees, expert witness fees, and other similar expenses. The attorney's out of pocket costs are, in many cases, not included in the attorney's fees. You should be sure to pay attention to how an attorney will bill you for costs because they can amount to quite a significant sum.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Personal Injury Articles
- I was injured in New York. Can I file a lawsuit against the party that caused my injury?
- New York Personal Injury: Basic Concepts
- Who can be held responsible when a person is injured in New York?
- How Can I Determine How Much My Claim Is Worth?
- What is the collateral source rule and how does it affect my personal injury case in New York?
- What to expect in a personal injury trial in New York.