FAQ about car accident injuries and related topics
Q: I was involved in a car accident. What do I do?
A: First, if you were hurt, you should go to an emergency room. If you did not go to a hospital after the accident, you should get a checkup at a doctor’s office within 48 hours. Nothing is more important than your health. A car accident, no matter how trivial, can have serious health implications in the long run.
Q: Do I need to file a police report?
A: Although not mandatory by law in NY, it is a good idea to get a police report at the scene of the accident. There may be litigation after the accident, so it is important to include your point of view in the report. You can pick up the police report at the precinct with the jurisdiction of the area of your accident after a few days. Be sure to call the precinct before you go to pick up the police report because there usually are a specific time and a fee for the report, and usually the payment is only accepted via a money order or a cashier’s check.
Q: I was not at fault but the other driver said I was. What do I do?
A: A police report becomes important in a case like this. While it is frustrating to be accused of anything, in this situation there is not much you can do besides cooperating with your own insurance company. You can provide your own insurance company with as accurate information as possible. You may get a phone call from the insurance company of the other driver. You should describe the accident as accurately as possible to them also. If you are represented by an attorney, you can request that they contact your attorney directly. The determination of which party was at fault in the accident will be determined by the insurance companies of the vehicles involved. Your attorney can request the insurance companies to speed up the process and provide additional information, but ultimately, it is the insurance companies that determine who was at fault.
Q: I have full coverage on my automobile insurance. How can I get my car fixed?
A: First, if you have full coverage on your automobile insurance, even if you were at fault or not, your policy covers for the repair of your vehicle. You can either present your vehicle to your insurance company’s designated center for the assessment of damages, or take your vehicle to your mechanic. For your convenience, we recommend taking your vehicle to your own mechanic, as you can have the insurance company inspector assess your vehicle at the shop directly. Your mechanic and the inspector will assess the damage together and agree on the cost of the repair. The repair process can begin as soon as the damage assessment is done. If you go to your own insurance company’s center, you would have wait to get a repair check in the mail, and then go find a repair shop that would do the repair for the amount that you were reimbursed. If the amount is deemed too low for a repair shop to make the repair, you would need to find another repair shop or ask for another assessment.
Q: I was not at fault. Do I still need to use my own automobile insurance to repair my car?
A: If the fault of the accident is very clear, and the insurance companies agree that the other driver was 100% at fault, the repair of your vehicle will be provided by the insurance company of the other driver. However, sometimes determination of who was at fault can take weeks, sometimes even months. If you have full coverage you may want to repair your own vehicle with your own insurance for you own convenience.
Q: I was at fault and I don’t have full coverage. Can I still use my insurance to repair my vehicle?
A: Unfortunately you will not be able to repair own your vehicle with your automobile insurance if you were at fault and you only have liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance covers for the repair to another vehicle other than your own in case you were at fault. You will need to pay for the repair of your own vehicle. However, whether you were at fault or not, and whether you have full or liability insurance coverage or not, you have medical treatment coverage.
Q: Do I need to get a lawyer first if I want to get my car repaired or get medical treatment?
A: You have the right to receive medical treatment under your own automobile insurance policy no matter what kind of automobile policy you may have purchased or no matter who was at fault. If you have full automobile insurance coverage you have the right to get your car repaired even if you were at fault. Attorneys do not have any involvement with medical treatment or automobile repair. An attorney will help you get compensation for your injuries after a car accident, but repairing your vehicle or getting medical treatment are strictly between you, the insurance companies, your mechanic, and your doctor.
Q: My car accident was a very minor one and I was evaluated and discharged from the hospital. The hospital took x-rays and said I was fine but I am starting to hurt. Why is that?
A: The reason that people who were involved in a car accident was fine but start to hurt later is that there is a lot of force involved in a car accident. Compare the force of a person walking into a wall at 5 mph to the person getting hit by a car weighing 2 tons traveling at 5 mph. Force = mass x acceleration. If you weigh 200 lb, you would be subjected to a force 20 times greater in the car accident than walking into a wall at the same speed. Hospital is concerned with life-threatening injuries and fractures, not necessarily muscle strain, overstretched tendons, ligament sprain, or disc injuries, which are the most common injuries in car accidents. Also, x-rays can rule out fractures, but doesn’t assess injuries to nerve, muscle, or joint completely. If left alone, these injuries can become debilitating chronic problems. Often these injuries do not hurt within the first few days to weeks. And by the time the accident victim presents to a doctor, often the most opportune time to have begun treatment for the greatest effectiveness is long past. Therefore we recommend that anyone who was involved in a car accident to be evaluated by a health care professional who is knowledgeable in car accident injuries to avoid future pain and suffering.
Q: My car was not damaged in the accident so I must be not hurt. Is this true?
A: This is absolutely not true. Most modern automobile bumpers can withstand impacts up to 5 mph without showing any signs of damage. However, if there is no absorption of impact force by deformation of the vehicle’s structure, the force generated during the impact is transmitted to the occupants in the vehicle. Often the force is transmitted to one area that is not securely strapped onto the vehicle, which are usually the neck or the shoulder. It is not uncommon to find a fracture in the neck from a rear-end accident with no damage to the vehicle. Therefore it is essential that you get a proper medical evaluation after you were involved in a car accident.
Q: Do I need to pay for my treatment if I was involved in a car accident?
A: No, everyone who was involved in a car accident is covered by an automobile insurance policy. You are not required to pay for your own treatment out of your own pocket. Even if you were a pedestrian who was involved in a hit-and-run car accident, there is a state policy called MVAIC that covers for your care in such a case. However there are rare circumstances in which a patient undergoes very extensive medical treatment such as brain surgery that may exhaust the entire medical benefit. A vast majority of car accident victims never come close to exhausting their medical benefits during routine treatment.
Q: I was not at fault. Whose insurance covers for my treatment?
A: New York is a No-Fault state. It means that you are covered for treatment if you get hurt in a car accident, no matter who was at fault. Hence the insurance coverage for car accident is called No-Fault Insurance. No matter who was at fault, your own automobile insurance policy covers for your treatment. If you have passengers, they are all covered under your automobile insurance policy. If you were a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle, the striking vehicle’s automobile insurance policy covers for your care.
Q: What does my automobile insurance policy cover?
A: Usually most people have medical treatment coverage of at least $50,000 and up for routine medical treatment, including pain management, physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. However, automobile insurance companies limit the time that the coverage is in effect. Depending on the insurance company, it can range from 1 month to up to 6 months, but the industry average based on our experience has been 3 to 4 months. You can see why beginning treatment promptly is important, as your benefit may run out before you completely recover from your injuries!
Q: I have health insurance. Can I use my health insurance instead of my automobile insurance?
A: No, by law you are not allowed to use any insurance other than your automobile insurance for any treatment involving injuries from your car accident. Your may use your health insurance after your automobile insurance company ends your treatment benefit period.
Q: I am not hurting now but in case I starting hurting later, is there a time limit on when I can begin treatment?
A: Yes there is. If you would like to apply for medical benefits for treatment relating to your car accident, there is a form called NF-2 that must be filled out within 30 days of the accident. You should mail it with certified return receipt. If you do not file the NF-2 form within 30 days, you are waiving your right to have medical treatment. Our office can assist you with the NF-2 form if you wish.
Q: Does it matter when I begin treatment?
A: An acute injury such as a car accident injury responds best when treated as soon as possible, ideally within the first 24 to 48 hours. The difference in the outcome of the same injury with different starting treatment time is substantial, even if you receive the same exact treatment. Timing is everything in treating acute injuries such as car accident injuries. A 1 month treatment plan can easily turn into a 6 months long ordeal if you wait too long. We feel that it is essential for you begin your treatment immediately after a car accident. Once you are under care and on way to recovery, you can take your time in carefully choosing a repair shop or an attorney to assist you.
Q: Once I begin treatment at a medical office, can I switch to another office?
A: Yes. You can switch from one medical office to another at any time you wish. That goes for any professionals you may be working with, including doctors and attorneys. You have complete control over who you choose to work with. However, please be aware that you will not have medical treatment coverage once your insurance company ends your benefit period.
Q: Why do some doctors refuse to take No-Fault Insurance?
A: No-Fault Insurance is an automobile insurance, not a regular health insurance. For doctors who rarely treat car accident patients, the procedures and paperwork of No-Fault Insurance will be unfamiliar and difficult. This is especially true with doctors in specialties such as dentistry or plastic surgery, who rarely see car accident patients. Some of these doctors bill the patients in an attempt to get reimbursed for their services after the insurance company refuse to pay their bills. Usually the patients assume that they were fully covered for medical treatment and they are surprised to receive the medical bills. Hence after some bitter experiences, many of these doctors refuse to take No-Fault Insurances and some patients refuse to get any treatment even if they need it. This is why you should find doctors who are familiar with processing No-Fault Insurance claims. They need to be able handle the paperwork correctly and communicate with your automobile insurance company effectively.
Q: I am hurting so much that I can’t work. Will my automobile insurance policy cover my lost wages?
A: Yes, but the amount of your lost wage reimbursement depends on your specific policy. You may also be eligible for reimbursement for other expenses that you may accrue due to your car accident, such as transportation to a medical office. Please save all the receipts and contact your insurance carrier for the ways to file for reimbursement of miscellaneous expenses.
Q: I got hurt in a car accident and I was not at fault. Am I entitled to some form of compensation?
A: Most likely, yes. If you consult with a car accident attorney, he/she would be able to assess your situation and give you some answers. The most important evidence in getting compensated for your injuries is your medical record. The length and frequency of your treatment, as well as the result of medical tests that your doctor ordered, prove the extent of your injuries and justify the compensation.
Q: How often and how long do I need to get treated?
A: The frequency and the duration of treatment are very specific to each patient. Some conditions are handled easily, and others require long-term treatment plan. If you would like to see one of the doctors so that he/she may be able to give you a diagnosis and a treatment plan, please call our office to make an appointment for initial consultation.
Q: I want come in for non-automobile accident related injury. Do you take my health insurance?
A: It is impossible to say we take your insurance or not until we verify it. Even if we are in network with your insurance company, you might have a policy that doesn’t cover the services that we provide. Every insurance company has many different policies with varying benefits. Sometimes policies change from year to year without the patients realizing it. All we need is your name, insurance ID number, your date of birth, and the phone number of your insurance company to verify your benefits. Since we have different healthcare providers, some services may be covered and some may be not. Only by calling up your insurance company and asking specific questions about your policy, we can figure out exactly what benefits you are entitled to. This way we can find out the maximum benefit you are entitled to under your policy.
Q: I don’t have health insurance. Can I still come for treatment?
A: Yes, we have affordable at the time-of-service discount. Since there is no expense of billing, collecting, staff pay, and waiting for payment for self-pay patients, we can pass that savings along to you. However we don’t offer pre-payment discounts.
This website contains general information about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.
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