100-1 Patco Court
Islandia, New York 11749

Ph: (631) 698-2000
Fx: (631) 698-4943
Em: office@leoassoc.com

What should you do if you are injured in a car accident?

The most important thing to remember following an automobile accident is that if you are injured even if is a minor injury you should seek medical attention immediately.

  • Call 911 for help. When the police arrive they will arrange for an ambulance if necessary .
  • Exchange information with the other driver or drivers of the cars involved in the accident. name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle.
  • Get details. If possible get photographs and document the accident. To the extent that your medical condition allows you to do so.
  • Talk to witnesses, if any. Try to get their contact information, because they may be able to help if the other drivers dispute your version of what happened.
  • Do not make any comments at the scene or about the accident, such as how the accident happened, or whose fault you think it was. Any comments you make can be used against you when your lawyer seeks to settle the case, or at the trial of your personal injury case.
  • Get medical help.If you have any pain or discomfort, be sure to go to an emergency room or to your doctor for an evaluation. Often accident victims simply hope that the pain and soreness will go away in a few days only to discover that, in fact, they were more seriously injured than they originally thought.

What exactly does No-Fault insurance cover?

No-Fault insurance provides reimbursement of medical expenses and a portion of your economic damages, including lost wages and other reasonable expenses such as prescriptions, travel expenses and household help.

Should I sign the insurance company’s release form?

Never sign any paperwork such as a release form from an insurance company following an accident without first consulting an attorney. There is an old saying that a person who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

The Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that people represented by a lawyer received 3.5 times more money than people who settled a case without a lawyer. Even after paying attorneys’ fees, clients received more than double the amount of money they otherwise would have gotten. Is it any wonder the insurance company wants you to sign a release and settle your case before you hire a lawyer? Many injury victims have unwittingly signed away their right to file a claim before understanding the full nature and extent of their injuries or their true value of their claim. The insurance companies have lawyers and know the true value of your case—shouldn’t you? The insurance companies have lawyers protecting their rights, and so should you.

Have I sustained a “serious injury” under New York State Law?

Most people are unaware that before a motor vehicle crash victim can receive compensation for their injuries they must prove that they sustained a “serious injury” as a result of the crash. Under New York State Insurance Law Section 5102 (d) a “serious injury” is defined nine different ways as follows:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • A fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
  • Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

I other words, a crash victim must prove their injuries “fit” into at least one out of the nine different definitions of a “serious injury” before the can be compensated for their injuries. If the crash victim can not prove it; they loose the case. It’s that simple. In order to determine whether or not an accident crash victim’s injuries constitute a “serious injury” under New York State Law, attorneys and insurance companies examine, among other things, medical records; objective medical testing (ie. MRI; X-ray; EMG); property damage estimates; photos of the property damage; employment records; any consequences that the injury has on the victim’s life.

It is important to remember that merely being injured as a result of a motor vehicle crash does not automatically entitle a victim to monetary compensation. A crash victim must prove they suffered a “serious injury”. Here are some examples of various crash victims who had their cases dismissed because their attorney was unable to convince the Court that the injuries suffered in the crash “fit” into, at least, one of the nine definitions of a “serious injury” as defined by New York State Law.

Onishi v. N & B Taxi, Inc. 51 A.D.3d 594, 858 N.Y.S.2d 171 N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,2008.
A herniated disc, by itself, is insufficient to constitute a “serious injury”; rather, to constitute such an injury, a herniated disc must be accompanied by objective evidence of the extent of alleged physical limitations resulting from the herniated disc ( Pommells v. Perez, 4 N.Y.3d 566, 574, 797 N.Y.S.2d 380, 830 N.E.2d 278 [2005]; Servones v. Toribio, 20 A.D.3d 330, 798 N.Y.S.2d 58 [2005]; Kearse v. New York City Tr. Auth., 16 A.D.3d 45, 49-50, 789 N.Y.S.2d 281 [2005] ).

Cornelius v. Cintas Corp. 50 A.D.3d 1085, 857 N.Y.S.2d 637 N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2008.
The mere existence of a herniated or bulging disc, and even a tear in a tendon, is not evidence of a serious injury in the absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the injury and its duration ( Shvartsman v. Vildman, 47 A.D.3d 700, 849 N.Y.S.2d 600; Tobias v. Chupenko, 41 A.D.3d 583, 837 N.Y.S.2d 334).

Wright v. Rodriguez 49 A.D.3d 532, 855 N.Y.S.2d 147 N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2008.
The mere existence of a herniated or bulging disc, and even radiculopathy, is not evidence of a serious injury in the absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the disc injury and its duration ( see Patterson v. N.Y. Alarm Response Corp., 45 A.D.3d 656, 850 N.Y.S.2d 114; Mejia v. DeRose, 35 A.D.3d 407, 825 N.Y.S.2d 722; **149 Yakubov v. CG Trans. Corp., 30 A.D.3d 509, 510, 817 N.Y.S.2d 353; see also Furrs v. Griffith, 43 A.D.3d 389, 390, 841 N.Y.S.2d 594).

Rabolt v. Park 50 A.D.3d 995, 858 N.Y.S.2d 197 N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2008.
The magnetic resonance imaging reports concerning the plaintiff’s cervical and lumbar spine merely established that as of May and June 2004, the plaintiff showed evidence of herniated discs in the cervical and lumbar regions of her spine. The mere existence of a herniated disc is not evidence of a serious injury in the absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the disc injury and its duration ( see Sharma v. Diaz, 48 A.D.3d 442, 850 N.Y.S.2d 634; Mejia v. De Rose, 35 A.D.3d 407, 408, 825 N.Y.S.2d 722; Yakubov v. CG Trans. Corp., 30 A.D.3d 509, 510, 817 N.Y.S.2d 353; Cerisier v. Thibiu, 29 A.D.3d 507, 508, 815 N.Y.S.2d 140; Kearse v. New York City Tr. Auth., 16 A.D.3d 45, 49-50, 789 N.Y.S.2d 281; Diaz v. Turner, 306 A.D.2d 241, 242, 761 N.Y.S.2d 93).

Djetoumani v. Transit, Inc. 50 A.D.3d 944, 857 N.Y.S.2d 601 N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2008.
Magnetic resonance imaging reports showing such tears are not evidence of serious injury in the absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the injuries, and the duration of these tears does not, alone, establish a serious injury ( see Nannarone v. Ott, 41 A.D.3d 441, 442, 837 N.Y.S.2d 311; Yakubov v. CG Trans Corp., 30 A.D.3d 509, 510, 817 N.Y.S.2d 353; Kearse v. New York City Tr. Auth., 16 A.D.3d 45, 49, 789 N.Y.S.2d 281).

Piperis v. Wan 49 A.D.3d 840, 854 N.Y.S.2d 489 N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2008.
The submission of the plaintiff’s magnetic resonance imaging reports concerning his cervical spine, lumbar spine, and left knee, as authored by Dr. Robert Diamond, merely showed that, as of July and August 2005, the plaintiff had disc bulges in his cervical and lumbar spine and a tear of the interior horn of the medial meniscus of the left knee. The mere existence of a herniated or bulging disc, and even a tear in a tendon, is not evidence of a serious injury in the absence of objective evidence of the extent of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the injury and its duration ( see Shvartsman v. Vildman, 47 A.D.3d 700, 849 N.Y.S.2d 600; Patterson v. N.Y. Alarm Response Corp., 45 A.D.3d 656, 850 N.Y.S.2d 114; Tobias v. Chupenko, 41 A.D.3d 583, 584, 837 N.Y.S.2d 334; *842 Mejia v. DeRose, 35 A.D.3d at 407-408, 825 N.Y.S.2d 722).

It is critical that a crash victim have an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in the evaluation of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash. At Donald Leo & Associates, we have over fifteen years experience handling thousands of motor vehicle crash cases. As a crash victim, you will be guided professionally through the “nightmare” of dealing with a motor vehicle crash, and you can rest assured that we will legally and ethically present the facts of your case so as to have the greatest opportunity for Justice.

What compensation can I receive for my personal injury?

The types of compensation available to victims of personal injury differ from case to case and depend largely on the type and severity of the injury. Most often, victims may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In the event of a victim’s wrongful death, surviving immediate family members may be able to recover compensation for funeral expenses. If an injury or death is a result of extreme negligence, the responsible party may be ordered to pay punitive damages to the victim or his or her family.

Will pursuing my case take up a lot of my time?

No. Oftentimes I only meet with clients for the initial interview and then we can just talk over the phone. If we do have to go to court, it will take more time. I realize your time is important, so I don’t waste it.

Will I have to go to trial?

The vast majority of personal injury cases don’t go to trial. However, I treat each case as if it is going to be a trial, as you have to be willing to go to trial to maximize your settlement.

Are there circumstances under which I might not be able to pursue a personal injury claim in court?

Yes. If any of the following apply to your accident, then you may not be able to seek compensation under New York State law.

  • You intentionally caused your own injury.
  • You operated a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition or while your ability to operate the vehicle was impaired by the use of a drug within the meaning of section 1192 of the vehicle and traffic law.
  • You were injured while: a) committing an act that would constitute a felony, or seeking to avoid lawful apprehension or arrest by a law enforcement officer, or b) operating a motor vehicle in a race or speed test, or c) operating or occupying a motor vehicle known to be stolen, or d) repairing, servicing or otherwise maintaining a motor vehicle if such conduct is within the course of a business of repairing, servicing or otherwise maintaining a motor vehicle and the injury occurs on the business premises.
  • Your injury does not meet any of the requirements under New York State law.

How do I pay your legal fees?

We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means YOU DO NOT OWE ME A LEGAL FEE UNLESS I RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU. I do not ask for any attorney fees upfront. If there is no recovery there is no fee.