FAQ

Contents

After an Accident

Q. Should I take an ambulance to the hospital?

A. Yes. It’s a big help to settle your case at a fair value because the insurance company claims representatives seem to think that if you don’t take an ambulance to the hospital, they may be able to prove your injury occurred later from some other accident.

However, don’t worry if you didn’t go to the hospital. Often, people don’t realize how serious their injuries are until a couple of hours later and then they go to the hospital later that day or the next day. If you go by ambulance, you’ll go right in but if you go by car, it can take all day. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, whether or not you went to the hospital.

Q. How can I get a police accident report?

A. We will get it for you but in case you want to get it, we put together instructions on how you can get a police accident report and other accident reports (on our motorcycle accident website).

Q. Should I talk to the insurance company or give a statement?

A. No. You should never give a statement to the insurance company. The insurance company wants to speak to you to get information they can use against you so they don’t have to pay any money or will have to pay less.

Don’t forget, when you speak to someone at an insurance company, your conversation is being recorded and can be used against you at trial. The person you will speak with is trained to get the information they want.

See more information about talking to an insurance company and what happens when you speak to an insurance company. Don’t call the insurance company when you get this letter seeming to treat you fairly.

Sometimes, a police officer will come to the hospital to get a written statement from you. You should never give a written statement to a police officer. Just say you want to discuss this with your attorney first.

Q. What if I already spoke to the insurance company or give a statement?

A. That’s okay. We still want to represent you. You have the right to seek legal advice at any time. We will obtain a copy of your statement and prepare accordingly.

Q. Is it okay to post on Facebook about my accident?

A. You should never post photos or write about your accident on Facebook or any other social media. Even if your Facebook account is private, the defense attorneys can access your account. Many attorneys won’t even take your case unless you close your Facebook account. We do not ask our clients to close their Facebook account but we do ask you not to post anything about your accident.

Q. How long do I have before I see a lawyer for my injury case?

A. Technically, you usually have three years to file a lawsuit. However, most attorneys won’t be interested in your case after 2 1/2 years. For some accidents, you may have a much shorter time of 90 days to file a notice of claim and another one year to file a lawsuit.

There are other claims which may need to be filed within 30-90 days.

It’s best to call a lawyer immediately after your accident or within 20 days.

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What Am I Entitled To If I’ve Been Injured?

Q. What claims or benefits am I entitled to?

A. Following is a list of benefits to which you may be entitled:

  1. No-Fault benefits include payment for medical expenses, drugs, transportation to doctors, household help and lost wages.
  2. New York State disability
  3. Medical expenses (past and future)
  4. Lost wages and/or lost income (past and future)
  5. Diminished earning capacity in the future
  6. Pain and Suffering which is payment for all of your injuries including scars, emotional distress and loss of consortium (past and future)
  7. Property damage
  8. Death benefit
  9. Funeral expenses
  10. New York State crime victims compensation

Q. Am I entitled to money for funeral bills if a family member was killed?

A. Yes. In any wrongful death action, whoever paid the funeral bills is reimbursed before any other money is distributed. If the accident involved a car or pedestrian, no-fault will pay a $2,000 death benefit.

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Do I Have A Case?

Q. My husband, wife or friend was driving. Will the insurance premium go up?

A. If the accident was someone else’s fault, filing a claim should have no effect on the insurance premium.

If the claim has to be made against your own insurance policy, your premium is not likely to go up if there were no previous claims or tickets.

Even if the insurance premium increases, it will be a very small amount compared to the amount of money we obtain for you. If the insurance premium goes up, it will likely increase somewhere between a few hundred dollars to $1000 per year for three years. If we only obtain $50,000 for you, it will more than cover your premium increase. Just pay your friend’s premium increase. If we settle your case for $100,000 or $300,000, do you really want to think about the cost of a premium increase?

Q. How can I find out if my injury is serious enough before calling a lawyer?

A. If you have been injured, no matter how minor the injury is, call us for a free consultation. Whether your case is big enough for us depends upon many factors which must be decided on a case-by-case basis. We strongly suggest that you call us because we have obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars for injuries which clients did not realize was serious.

We have also obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars for clients who thought they caused the accident. See examples of serious injuries and injuries which may be serious.

Q. If the police report says I am responsible for the car accident, can I still bring a personal injury claim?

A. Yes. The police are frequently wrong.

Q. If the accident was my fault, can I have a case?

A. Sometimes people think the accident was their fault when it wasn’t their fault or only partially their fault. For instance, you might have been drunk but not at fault. We settled a case for a drunk motorcyclist for $155,000.

This motorcyclist had a BAC of 0.203
Settlement above insurance policy recognized by Jury Verdict Review

New York is a true comparative fault state which means that even if you are partially at fault for causing your accident, you are still entitled to be compensated for your injury.

The way this works is that if you are 50% at fault for causing the accident and your injury is worth $250,000, you are entitled to receive $125,000. If the defendant has a $100,000 insurance policy, we would demand payment of the entire insurance policy because the value of your case is more than the $100,000 insurance policy.

Injuries can be worth far more than you think. We obtained a jury verdict of $465,000 for a torn meniscus which the defense claimed was not torn. See some of our results.

Q. Can I have a personal injury case if I do not have a drivers license?

A. Yes. The accident was not caused because you did not have a license. It has no relevance to your case. Additionally, filing a claim for your injuries will not cause any problems for you.

Q. I don’t want to go to court. Can you still help me?

A. Yes. Sometimes, a client doesn’t want to go to court and wants to settle the case. We have several ways to put a lot of pressure on the insurance company to settle.

If you don’t want to go to court, it’s likely that you don’t mind if a lawsuit is started but you don’t want to have a trial.

We had one client who did not even want us to start a lawsuit. We were still able to settle the case in 14 months for the entire insurance policy of $500,000.

Q. Do I still have a case if the defendant died?

A. It doesn’t matter! You can still get money insurance company and/or the estate. We simply file a claim against the estate and the insurance company will pay the claim. If there is no estate, we will have the court appoint an administrator and create an estate.

Q. Do I still have a case if the defendant company went out of business?

A. It doesn’t matter! You can still get money and your case just got better if the company we are suing went out of business after your accident.

Q. If I get Medicaid, Medicare or SSI, can I have a case?

A. Yes. While you cannot receive settlement money from your case if you have Medicaid or SSI, your settlement money can be put into a supplemental needs trust which allows you to spend your settlement money and continue receiving your benefits.

A supplemental needs trust is approved by the government and allows you to access your settlement money from the trust to purchase almost anything you would want to buy.

What can you spend your trust money on? You can buy a car for up to $30,000, clothing, a TV with surround sound, or go away on vacation, etc.

The restrictions on the trust prohibit you from spending trust money on anything that Medicaid or SSI would pay for. For instance, if you get Medicaid, you cannot use your trust money to pay for medical bills but you could use it to pay for dental bills not covered by Medicaid. If you receive SSI, you cannot use your trust money to pay for housing.

Medicare is not affected by your receiving settlement money if you don’t need future medical treatment because of your accident. If you will need future treatment, proper planning will protect your Medicare benefits.

The above is provided to give you a simple overview of trusts and is not a complete list of what you can or cannot spend your money on.

Q. If I am not in the US legally, can I have a case?

A. Yes. Your legal status does not have to be disclosed. Neither the defendant nor the defendant’s insurance company or attorney is entitled to ask for proof of your legal status

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Hiring an Attorney

Q. Do I need a  lawyer?

A. Yes.

  • If you don’t hire a lawyer quickly, you may lose many benefits you are entitled to.
  • If you try to settle with the insurance company because they said they will be fair with you, you will likely get no more than 10% of what your injury is worth.
  • People who came to us after trying to settle their case had no idea what their injury was worth.
  • People who came to us after trying to settle their case had injuries they didn’t even know about.

Even a lawyer can’t represent him or herself. I broke my nose in a hit and run accident and tried to represent myself. This was an easy case! But even though the insurance company knew I was a personal injury lawyer and I had many similar cases, I could not get a fair settlement! I hired a friend who charged me a legal fee.

Q. Why do I need an attorney?

A. Because the insurance company will try to pay you as little as possible. You will likely have several claims for a several different benefits but the insurance company probably won’t tell you about all the benefits you are entitled to. Quite simply, insurance companies make more money when they pay less money.

Q. Can I settle my own case or do I need a personal injury lawyer?

A. As Abraham Lincoln stated, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client”. You can settle your own case but at best you just won’t get much money. At worst, I represented a client who settled the property damage claim on her own and then came to me for her injury. The insurance company had her sign a general release for the property damage and argued that her claim for both property damage and injuries was released. She was lucky because I successfully had the release voided.

What happens when a personal injury attorney represents himself?  I broke my nose when a car hit me and even though the insurance company knew I was a lawyer, they wouldn’t offer me more than 15% of what I knew I could get for my clients. I had to hire a lawyer.

We have always been able to get substantially more money than what the insurance companies offered our clients! Take a look st some of our trial verdicts, arbitration awards and settlements.

Beware of letters like this one boasting about a computer program called Colossus created for insurance companies to evaluate your injuries.

Consider this information from a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council which conducted the study to help insurance companies stop people from: lawyers:

1) According to the Insurance Research Council, just speaking to a lawyer about your rights can get you almost 40% more money than not talking to a lawyer.

2) According to the Insurance Research Council, if you have a lawyer, you could get 3 1/2 times more money on average from your insurance settlement than without a lawyer when comparing gross settlement amounts. We have many cases where we got hundreds of thousands more than what the insurance company offered.

Q. What is a personal injury lawyer?

A. A personal injury lawyer is a lawyer who represents people who have been hurt in an accident or injured by some other cause. An accident lawyer is a personal injury lawyer.

Q. How much does it cost to talk to a lawyer?

A. Personal injury lawyers usually do not charge for a consultation. You can speak with us for free for as long as you want, as often as you want before you decide to hire a lawyer. Just call 1-800-487-8911 and speak with Attorney Phil Franckel right now.

Q. How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?

A. New York personal injury lawyers charge a 1/3 contingency fee of the amount of money they recover for you. We charge the same 1/3 fee. It is called a contingency fee because it is contingent on obtaining money for you so you are charged only if money is recovered for you and nothing if no money is recovered for you. The legal fee is charged at the end of the case.

The similarity of the legal fees other lawyers charge stops there. Many lawyers charge a lot of other fees and expenses which we do not charge. See our easy to read but detailed article about how much it costs to hire a personal injury attorney and the difference between other attorneys and us. See what is included in our legal fee and what we do not charge you for.

Q. Do I need to pay any money for case expenses?

A. No, you do not need any money. We will advance the money necessary to prosecute your claim for injuries. We will be paid back out of the money we get for you and you are not responsible if we don’t get any money for you – if we do not get money for you, you pay nothing.

Q. How do I know which lawyer to hire?

A. Compare the websites of lawyers you are considering. Take a look at most if not all of the pages on the lawyer’s website and decide if that lawyer appears knowledgeable about accident law and whether you will get the attention and service you want.

Philip L. Franckel, Esq. wrote every page (79 pages) on this website. We are proud of our website and think that you’ll be confident in our knowledge and how much we really care about our clients.

Read some of our client reviews to see what they think about us.

Do we know the law? A Supreme Court Judge thanked me for clearing up confusion with my article How Not To Serve Notice of Entry by eFiling.

Q. Why should I hire FRANCKEL & PLEVY, LLP?

A. There are many reasons but here are three of them:

  • First, because you can speak with an attorney (Phil Franckel or Rob Plevy) 7 days/nights. With other lawyers, you’ll just get to speak with a secretary or paralegal. Why will you get to speak directly with us? Because we care about our clients and because your case is important to us.
  • Second, because we are good at what we do and we are out-of-the-box thinkers. We know how to deal with problems such as pre-existing injuries and we have unique tactics to force the insurance company to pay the entire policy and to do it sooner.
  • Third, while other law firms charge legal fees for a lot of additional services, we only charge 1/3 of the money we get for your pain and suffering. We don’t charge for a lot of expenses, which we list on our homepage, which other law firms charge for.

Q. Ok, I’d like to hire you, what’s next?

A. Just call 1-800-487-8911 and speak with Attorney Phil Franckel right now for a free consultation. If you want us to represent you and we think you have a good case, you will need to sign a retainer which allows us to represent you and states that at the end of your case you will be charged 1/3 of the amount of money we recover for you and that you will not be responsible to pay any money unless we get money for you.

We can meet with you at our office or your place or a hospital. We can even email you a retainer which you can sign electronically on your computer or smart phone which will let us begin working on your case in minutes.

We will get the police accident report, hospital records And other medical records. We will also fill out and file many forms and claim forms that will need to be filled out. You won’t have to do anything. Read the other questions on this page to find out more about the next steps.

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How Do I Pay My Bills?

Q. How do I pay for medical bills?

A. This question has many different answers depending upon the type of accident you had and other factors. In a car accident, No-Fault insurance will pay your medical bills and lost wages. No-Fault does not require referrals, co-payments or deductibles. An application must be completed and filed within 30 days from your accident (we will do this for you).

If you are injured in a trip and fall or slip and fall accident, there may be “med pay” insurance coverage through the homeowner or business insurance policy to pay your medical bills.

If you are injured while working, New York workers’ compensation insurance will pay your medical bills and does not require you to pay deductibles. Workers’ compensation is also required to reimburse you for transportation expenses (taxi, mileage, parking and tolls) for travel to and from your medical appointments. If you work “off the books,” you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

In other accidents, there may be an insurance policy with “med pay” coverage which can pay your medical bills while your case is continuing.

The people or companies responsible for your injury will be responsible to pay your past and future medical bills but that will be paid at the end of your case.

Your health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will pay your medical bills.

If there isn’t any insurance to pay for your medical treatment and you don’t have health insurance, we can give you the names of doctors who will treat you on a lien without you having to pay up front. The doctors will be paid at the end of your case from your settlement money.

If you receive medical treatment on a lien, the person or company responsible for causing your injury is responsible to pay for your treatment.

For instance, we obtained $16,000 of dental treatment on a lien for a client. The dentist was paid at the end of the case from the settlement and the defendant had to include money in the settlement for the dental lien and future dental treatment.

Medical liens are paid to the doctor for the principal amount owed without interest.

We can answer your questions if you call for a free consultation. Just call 1-800-487-8911 and speak with Attorney Phil Franckel right now.

Q. What do I do for money while I am out of work?

A. You may be entitled to payment for lost wages or lost income while you are recovering from your injuries from

  • No-fault
  • Workers compensation
  • Disability insurance, and/or
  • NYS Disability

Even if you were injured when not working but had a job, you can file a claim for New York State disability. The New York State disability claim form is a DB-450. We do not charge a legal fee to process your lost wage or lost income claim.

The defendant’s insurance company can be made to pay for your lost wages or lost income at the time of trial.

If you need additional money to pay bills, rent or mortgage, car payments, etc. you can also obtain a lawsuit funding advance “loan” against your case (see the next question).

Q. Can I borrow money on my accident case?

A. Yes. Accident lawyers are not allowed to loan money to clients but there are companies that will advance some money to you.

The lawsuit funding company will put a lien on your case so that the money which is given to you is paid back with interest from the settlement proceeds of your case. You only have to pay the money back if you get money from your case. If your case loses, you owe nothing.

Your lawyer will provide a copy of the police accident report, medical records and other records to the lawsuit funding company so they can decide how much they will loan you.

Typical interest rates charged by lawsuit funding companies range from 3% to 4% per month. We have an agreement with a lawsuit funding company to provide a lawsuit advance for you usually at between 2.5-2.75% per month depending upon the case.

For more information about lawsuit loans, see Should I borrow money against my lawsuit?

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Your Accident Case & Lawsuit

Q. Should I include my spouse in my lawsuit?

A. This is not a simple question for an FAQ section but we provided and easy to read article which will help you decide whether you want to include your spouse in your lawsuit. Of course, we’ll be happy to discuss this with you and give you our opinion.

Q. What are the chances my case will lose?

A. We have lost only one case since 1990. According to the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 1/3 of personal injury cases lose. Most large law firms have lost more than a few cases. Of course, your case can only be lost if it is not settled and goes to trial.

Q. What are the chances my case will be settled or go to trial?

A. The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before trial. If your case cannot be settled, we often participate in alternative dispute resolution involving either mediation or arbitration instead of trial.

Mediation is where both sides attempt to settle the case with the assistance of a mediator. We always use a retired Supreme Court judge as a mediator. Arbitration is where an award is made by the arbitrator. This is similar to a trial but done without a jury. Arbitration can save you $15,000 in trial expenses and a lot of time because arbitration can be done within 2-3 hours instead of one or two weeks.

In some cases, the insurance company just refuses to offer a fair settlement until the time of trial are not at all. For instance, GEICO offered only $10,000 to our client who had a torn meniscus in his knee. Much later, they increased the offer to $20,000 and on the first day of the trial, they increased the offer to $100,000. We declined the offer and after a trial, the jury awarded $465,000.

Q. How much of my time will I have to devote to my case?

A. Not much of your time is is needed for your case. If your case is settled before a lawsuit is started, almost none of your time will be needed.

We can save you a lot of time by filling out many forms and taking care of many problems you will encounter if you don’t have a lawyer after an accident.

If a lawsuit is started, you will likely have to appear at a deposition and physical exams afterwards. We prepare our clients several days before the deposition. Preparation for your deposition takes approximately 3 hours. Your deposition will take approximately 3-4 hours.

Your physical exam will occur one or two months later and typically takes five minutes +30 minutes waiting and travel time. We will be with you at your physical exam.

Most cases are settled before trial but if your case has to proceed to trial, you can expect approximately one week for the trial but you may not have to attend the entire trial.

Q. Will I have to testify?

A. In most cases there are two times when you might have to testify. The first time is at a deposition, also called an examination before trial, and the second time is at trial.  If your claim for injuries is settled prior to starting a lawsuit, you will not have to testify at all.

If a lawsuit has been started, your case may still be settled before your deposition. But if your case is not settled, you will have to testify at a deposition.

There still is a good chance that your case will be settled after your deposition.  But if your case goes to trial, you will testify again at trial.

In cases against a government, you will have to testify at a 50 H hearing before your deposition. In some car accident cases, the no-fault insurance company will sometimes require you to testify but that’s not usual.

Be sure to read the next two questions and answers about what a deposition is and how we will prepare you to testify.

Q. What is a deposition?

A. If a lawsuit was filed, you will testify at a deposition, also known as an examination before trial, where you will be asked questions by the insurance company attorney about how the accident happened, your injuries, and medical treatment.

A court reporter will transcribe (record) the questions and your answers. Your answers are given under sworn oath and can be used against you at trial.

After your deposition, the defendant will have to testify at a deposition where we will ask questions about how the accident happened.

Q. Will you prepare me for my deposition?

A. Preparing you for your deposition is one of the most important parts of your case. That’s why we spend 3-4 hours to prepare you. Most lawyers will meet you for 30-60 minutes before your testimony to prepare you. This is totally inadequate.

During your preparation, you will watch a video of deposition so you can see and hear questions answered the wrong way and then the right way. After we finish preparing you, you will no longer be nervous and you should testify like a lawyer. See how we will prepare you for your deposition.

Q. Will I have to be examined by an insurance company doctor?

A. After your deposition you will be examined by one or more insurance company doctors. This is also one of the most important parts of your case. Insurance company doctors are paid a lot of money (as much as $2 million per year) and while I don’t want to say that they lie, I will say that they have a lot of financial pressure to strongly twist reality and will likely testify that there is nothing wrong with you or that your injuries were not caused by your accident.

We have caught insurance company doctors outright lying. Just read this article about defense doctors who lied. This is why we go to the medical exam with you and we bring an independent medical doctor with us to observe the exam and write a report about what was done. Most lawyers will send you to your medical exams alone.  See what we do and what the insurance company doctors do.

Q. How long will my accident case or lawsuit take?

A. How long your personal injury case takes depends on many details about your case. Cases involving obvious injuries such as a broken bone usually go faster. The quickest we have ever settled a case was 7 weeks (for the entire policy). Some cases take 6-12 months while others can take as long as 2-5 years.

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Settlement Money

Q. How much is my accident case worth?

A. It is impossible to say what an accident or injury case is worth without knowing many details about your injuries, how the accident occurred, and many other factors. See a few of our settlements. However, we may be able to give you a little bit of an idea during your free consultation. Even then, we will not know much of the details that we will find out after our investigation.

You are entitled to recover money for your pain and suffering, past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages or income and other losses.

The insurance company will try to make you believe that they will give you a fair offer and that you will get more money because you won’t have to pay legal fees. However, never, ever believe the insurance company. We can always get you many more times what the insurance company will offer you. Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you what your case is worth.

See the FAQ below and read our article How much you can sue for.

Q. How much can I sue for my injury?

A. There is no limit to the amount of money you can ask a jury to award you at trial. However, under New York law, lawyers are no longer allowed to demand a specific amount of money in a personal injury complaint which is the document starting a personal injury lawsuit. Under New York law, in personal injury lawsuits lawyers must wait until trial to demand a specific amount of money unless the defense attorney requests the amount we are seeking. When requested by the defense attorney, we never seek less than $50 million. Read our article if you’re interested in more information about how much you can sue for.

Q. Can I get more money than the insurance policy limit?

A. Yes. It is difficult but we have done that several times. See our article which answers this question. You can also seek to recover money awarded by a trial judgment From the defendant’s personal assets and/or wages or income.

Q. If I get Medicaid or Medicare will they get money from my settlement?

A. Maybe yes, maybe no. Whether Medicaid or Medicare is entitled to a lien on your case depends on various factors such as the type of accident. Even if Medicaid or Medicare is entitled to a lien on your case, the lien can usually be negotiated to a very small amount or even nothing at all.

Q. Is there income tax on my settlement money?

A. Usually no. Money paid for pain and suffering is not taxable. However, any part of your settlement paid for emotional or psychological injuries and lost income is taxable. If your case is settled before trial, the settlement is usually only for pain and suffering. At trial, a jury will consider how much money to award for pain and suffering and how much to award for past and future lost income. You should consult your accountant about tax implications.

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Q. Why wasn’t the driver arrested when someone was killed?

A. When someone is killed in an accident, a crime may have been committed but sometimes, it was just an accident without the commission of a crime. If a crime was not committed, the driver who caused a death will not be arrested. See a more detailed explanation of when a driver will be arrested or not for causing a death.

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Q. What kind of accidents do you take?

A. We represent people injured in any type of accident including the following:
Wrongful Death Accidents
Construction Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents and scooters
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Pedestrian Accidents
Hit-and-Run Accidents
Trip & Fall, Slip & Fall (Premises)
Elevator Accidents
Escalator Accidents
Electrical – electric shock
Forklift Accidents
Burns
Hot water scalding burns
Nursing Home Abuse & Negligence