Car Accidents
The car accident attorneys at The Coppola Firm have years of experience representing accident victims in personal injury claims.

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Car Accident Lawyers Serving Buffalo

When you go out to drive, do you ever wonder if it might be your last day behind the wheel? From Buffalo residents making their commute to visitors driving through the area, we can expect to see higher traffic as time progresses. The increase in the number of drivers has contributed to an increase in fatalities in New York motor vehicle accidents. Comparing data from the first half of 2022 to the same period in 2021 shows that the trend for fatal car crashes is on the rise. New York has over 100,000 miles of roadways. The average person travels 30 miles per day. Are you a parent on the way to pick up a child? Maybe you are on the way to work, or you are going to visit a friend or family member. An auto accident can alter your life in the blink of an eye.

If you have not experienced an accident yet, it is likely that you will at some point in your life, unfortunately. You could develop a fear of driving, knowing that you could have another accident. We understand your fear and want to help you feel safe again. The car accident attorneys at The Coppola Firm have years of experience representing accident victims in personal injury claims. We can help you assert your rights, advocate for you with insurance companies or in court, and recover the financial compensation you deserve.

Car with front end damage

Why Hire The Coppola Firm After a Serious Car Crash?

The car accident lawyers at The Coppola Firm are passionate about their clients. As a woman-owned and operated firm, we understand the legal processes involved in personal injury claims, and we know how to help clients assert their rights. If you have been involved in a car accident and suffered serious injuries, your attention needs to be on your recovery, not fighting over financial compensation with an insurance company. Our car accident lawyers can gather evidence to support your claim, file the necessary paperwork, and negotiate or litigate your claim on your behalf. We are keenly empathetic, yet extraordinarily aggressive regarding winning considerable compensation for our clients.

Founder Lisa Coppola has worked on both sides of car accident cases during her 30-year career. She has direct knowledge of the tricks insurance companies might use to avoid paying you the full amount they owe you for your car accident case. Her law office is Buffalo’s only woman-owned personal injury firm. They offer free advice videos and free consultations for personal injury cases.

What Should You Do If You Are in a Car Accident in Buffalo, NY?

If you have been in a car accident, you might be injured. You will probably be confused and not know the immediate steps to take. While your first priority should be your own safety and the safety of others around you, you may be able to take steps to obtain evidence that you can use in a personal injury claim. Here is what you should do:

Seek Medical Attention

You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after an auto accident. Even if you do not think you are injured, some car accident injuries are not immediately apparent. Once the adrenaline subsides, you may realize that your injuries are worse than you thought. The symptoms of some injuries may not appear for days or even weeks after the accident.

In addition to making sure you receive the care you need, seeking medical attention right away creates a written record of your injuries. You will need this when you file your car accident claim.

Call the Police

The 911 dispatcher will send a police officer to investigate the accident scene and, if necessary, paramedics to evaluate injuries. The police officer will inspect the scene and interview drivers, passengers, and witnesses. They will create a police report that includes important details about the car crash. You will need this document when you make a claim for damages.

Collect Evidence

If you are able to do so, gather evidence from the accident scene. Do not get in the way of the police investigation, but do not rely on them solely to collect evidence, either.

One of the most important things to do is exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident. Be sure to get their names, license plate numbers, insurance information, and phone numbers. If other witnesses are present, get their names and phone numbers and ask if they would be willing to record a statement for you about what they saw. Take pictures of the accident scene, your own injuries, and any property damage to your vehicle or other vehicles.

File a Claim With Insurance

You will need to notify your insurance company about the accident, and you will eventually file a claim for damages with them. You should consult a Buffalo car accident attorney before you give any statements to your insurance company or sign any documents. Insurance adjusters know many ways to avoid paying the full amount of damages owed to you. With an experienced attorney’s legal advice, you can avoid jeopardizing fair compensation.

Hire an Attorney

A car accident lawyer with knowledge of New York state law can help you understand your rights, discuss your options, and guide you through the complicated process of filing a personal injury claim. They can help you fill out the insurance forms. If the insurance company makes a meager settlement offer — as they often do — your attorney can advocate on your behalf to obtain fair financial compensation.

Do You Have to Stay If It Was a Minor Accident?

It is important to stay at the scene of the accident and to notify the police. New York state law actually requires you to remain at the scene until the police respond. Leaving the scene could result in hit-and-run charges against you. Dealing with that will be a far greater hassle than staying at the accident scene.

It is also in your interest to stay at the scene even if the accident seems minor. In the immediate aftermath of a car crash, you might not think you have any injuries. The property damage, if any, might not seem substantial. You might not realize the extent of the damage to your vehicle, or of your own injuries, at that moment. If you leave the scene of the accident, you will not be able to get a police report later if you realize you need to file an insurance claim.

The other driver’s injuries and property damage are also a factor you must consider. They might disagree with your assessment of the seriousness of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident that involves personal injuries is a much more serious hit-and-run offense.

How New York’s No-Fault Laws Impact You

New York is a “no-fault” state. This means that you can recover medical expenses and certain other damages from your own insurance company after an accident regardless of who was at fault. It also means that you may only file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in cases involving particularly serious injuries.

Personal Injury Protection

Every driver in the state must have no-fault insurance coverage, also known as personal injury protection (PIP). You must file a claim under your own PIP coverage after a car accident if you want to recover damages. Compensation that you may recover from your insurance company includes the following:

  • Medical bills related to the accident
  • 80% of your lost wages, up to a maximum of $2,000 per month for up to three years
  • Up to $25 per day for certain accident-related expenses
  • $2,000 to a person’s estate in a wrongful death case

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

New York limits your ability to sue an at-fault driver for damages. The circumstances under which you may file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident are discussed in more detail further below. Your case must meet a minimum standard for “serious injuries” set by New York state law.

Pure Comparative Fault

If your car accident case meets the threshold for filing a lawsuit, New York follows a “pure comparative fault” rule when determining how much you should receive. A jury or judge will apportion the fault for the accident between you and the defendant(s). If you were not at fault in any way for the accident, a court may award you 100% of the damages you suffered. The court will reduce your damages by the percentage of fault apportioned to you. This applies even if you were mostly at fault. Suppose your total damages are $250,000:

  • If you were 20% at fault for the accident, the court would reduce your damages by 20% to $200,000.
  • If you were 50% at fault, the court would reduce your damage award by half to $125,000.
  • If you were 90% at fault, the court would reduce the award by 90% to $25,000.

What Are Common Causes of Car Accidents in Buffalo, NY?

In order to understand what might have led to your accident, or to simply practice safe driving in the future, it is best that you know the most common types of car accidents in the Buffalo area, which are:

Distracted Driving

Cell phones are perhaps the most common culprit in cases involving distracted driving. Any kind of distraction can lead to car crashes, though, by taking the driver’s attention away from the road.

Speeding

Drivers speed all the time, despite clearly posted speed limits on roads throughout New York. High-speed accidents can cause catastrophic injuries.

Driving Under the Influence

People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are responsible for a substantial number of auto accidents on New York roads. Drugs and alcohol can impede a driver’s reaction times, or even render them incapable of responding to road conditions or other drivers.

Weather

Western New York is known for severe winter weather. Snowstorms can cause very low visibility. Ice leads to dangerous road conditions. These can significantly increase the risk of vehicle collisions.

Road Conditions

Poor road conditions, such as potholes or debris, can create hazards that lead to car crashes. Motorcycle accidents involving road hazards can cause particularly serious injuries.

Young Drivers

Young drivers can pose a risk on New York roads because of various factors, including a lack of driving experience and higher risk of succumbing to distractions. We discuss this more below.

Why Are Young Drivers So High-Risk for Car Accidents?

Data suggest that younger drivers — generally meaning teenage drivers — are at greater risk of suffering injuries or death in auto accidents in New York. It is important to keep all drivers safe, but especially the younger ones. They are, after all, just children. Research has offered several reasons for this trend among younger drivers.

Lack of Experience

Safe driving requires not only constant attention to the road but also the ability to anticipate, avoid, and react to hazards. An experienced driver, for example, might see a vehicle ahead of them moving erratically and give that vehicle plenty of room. Younger drivers tend not to have the experience necessary to identify hazardous road conditions and dangerous situations as quickly or as accurately as older drivers. The risks tend to be the greatest for teenagers between 16 and 19 years of age, particularly during the first few months after getting a license.

Cell Phone Use While Driving

Teenagers are more likely to use cell phones while driving. Distracted driving can result from talking, texting, or other activities while behind the wheel.

Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Teenage drivers tend to take greater risks while driving. This may be in part because of a lack of driving experience, but the fact that teenagers’ brains are still developing is also a factor.

What Types of Car Collisions Will The Coppola Firm Handle For You?

The Coppola Firm can assist you with almost any kind of car crash. The following list identifies the most common types of car accidents, but it does not list all of them.

Rear End Collisions

These are among the most common type of accidents on New York roads. They occur when a vehicle strikes another vehicle from behind. They can cause minor property damage or catastrophic injuries, depending on factors like the speed of the vehicle. Injuries like whiplash are common.

T-Bone Collisions

T-bone or side-impact collisions occur when a vehicle hits another vehicle traveling in a perpendicular direction. They often occur in intersections when one car runs a red light or stop sign or fails to yield the right-of-way. These have a very high potential of being catastrophic.

Rollover Accidents

Rollovers may occur for numerous reasons. A truck accident involving a large commercial truck and a smaller car, for example, could lead to the car flipping over. Rollover accidents can cause severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries.

Sideswipe Accidents

This type of accident involves either two cars traveling in the same direction or one car passing a parked car. It occurs when one vehicle strikes the side of the other vehicle. The damage from a sideswipe accident can range from minor to severe.

Multi-Vehicle

Any of the above types of accidents can become multi-vehicle accidents if a collision affects other vehicles on the road. A rear-end collision with a vehicle stuck in traffic can become a long chain of rear-end collisions, to name one example.

Hit and Run

A hit-and-run occurs when a driver does not remain at the scene of an accident until the police arrive which is illegal under New York law. It can also delay a car accident claim since the driver is not present to share their insurance and contact information.

What Types of Injuries Can You Receive from a Car Accident in Buffalo, NY?

Car accident injuries can vary depending on the severity of the crash and personal factors like height, weight, and seat belt use. The following are some common types of injuries:

Head and Spine Injuries

Collisions between vehicles can cause injuries to the head, neck, and spine. Whiplash is a common injury affecting the neck. Traumatic brain injuries may occur in serious collisions and rollovers.

Broken Bones

Broken or fractured bones are common car accident injuries, especially when a vehicle was traveling at high speed. If an accident throws someone from their vehicle, broken bones might be their least serious injury.

Bruises and Cuts

Car crashes usually result in broken glass. Even the tempered safety glass used in car windows and windshields can cause serious cuts. Bruises can result from any impact.

Wrongful Death

If an auto accident results in a fatality, that person’s loved ones may be able to assert a claim for wrongful death. They can also receive no-fault insurance death benefits.

Who Is More Impacted By a Crash?

A study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2013 showed that women are more likely than men to be killed due to the same accidents. In August 2022, however, the NHTSA released a new study that showed major improvements in vehicle safety. The study found that, from 1975 to 2019, women had about a 17.9% greater fatality risk. Looking at the years 2015 to 2019, the difference in risk had fallen to 9.1%, which is still quite serious even if it has improved. The NHTSA attributes the improvement to better safety features in newer-model vehicles.

What Types of Compensation Can You Receive After a Car Accident in New York?

You can recover two types of financial compensation after a motor vehicle accident in New York.

Economic Damages

Economic damages compensate you for direct losses you suffered because of the accident:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • No-fault insurance will cover many economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are only available in cases that meet the “serious injury” standard required to file a lawsuit. They compensate you for subjective losses that are based on how the accident and your injuries have impacted your life:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss or limited use of a bodily function or system
  • Dismemberment

Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver in Buffalo, NY

A lawsuit is the only way you can recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering, or economic damages in excess of your PIP policy limits. You can file a lawsuit if you suffered “serious injuries” as defined by New York law:

  • Broken or fractured bone(s)
  • “Significant disfigurement”
  • “Permanent limitation” of the use of a limb or bodily organ
  • “Significant limitation” of the use of a bodily system or function
  • “Substantially full disability” for at least ninety days

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in NY?

New York sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. You can only file a car accident lawsuit in certain situations, and you must meet another filing deadline first. You have ten days from the date of the accident to file an accident report. After that, if your injuries are serious enough that you can file a lawsuit, you have three years from the accident date.

An additional deadline applies if your suit will be against a government agency. You must submit a notice of claim to them within ninety days of the accident.

Which Roads Are the Most Dangerous to Drive in New York?

According to data from the NHTSA on traffic fatalities, the most dangerous types of roads for fatalities in New York state are:

  • Non-interstate, other principal arterial roads, with 118 speeding-related fatalities in 2020
  • Local, non-interstate roads, with 105 speeding-related fatalities in 2020

Yet, it is important to understand that catastrophic car accidents can occur anywhere in Buffalo, New York. Always drive defensively, paying close attention to the drivers around you.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters After Your Accident

Put simply, the insurance adjuster is not your friend. They will try to get you to accept a low settlement offer, well below your actual amount of damages and the amount payable to you under your insurance policy. Insurance companies must make a profit, after all. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to identify and avoid the insurance adjuster’s tricks. They will advocate for you and fight to get the full amount of compensation you deserve.

Contact The Coppola Firm For Help

The legal team at The Coppola Firm is passionate about helping clients in all of its practice areas, including the following:

  • Personal Injury
  • Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Employment Law
  • Charter Schools
  • End-of-Life Planning
  • Business Disputes

Injured and Need Help Trying to Receive Compensation?

If you have suffered injuries in an automobile accident, you need skilled legal representation to help you recover all of the damages owed to you. The legal team at The Coppola Firm is here to assist you. In their decades of experience as personal injury attorneys, owners Lisa Coppola and Jennifer Scharf have obtained compensation for countless clients through settlements and verdicts. They and their team will work tirelessly to advocate for your rights and fight for all of the damages owed to you for your injuries. Their law firm offers:

  • Free consultations for personal injury cases
  • Free advice videos
  • A ground-floor location with free parking

Speak to a Buffalo car accident lawyer about your case today by calling (716) 839-9700 or filling out the online contact form.

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