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Why You Need a Lawyer for an Accident in Buffalo

Learn how the legal system works for car accident injury claims in New York

Car accidents often occur in Buffalo and other parts of western New York. In an instant, a serious accident can occur that results in severe injuries. Sometimes, it’s a rear-end accident on Broadway Street or another road in Buffalo, resulting in whiplash or a concussion. A head-on collision on Sycamore Street or a speeding accident on the New York State Thruway (I-90) or I-190 can cause life-altering injuries, such as a spinal cord injury or an internal injury that requires immediate medical care.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you should be eligible for financial compensation for your injury-related expenses. But actually getting the money you deserve can often be more complicated than you might realize. That’s why it’s important to understand how the insurance system works in New York and the legal options available to you.

How common are car accidents in Buffalo?

Thousands of people are injured in serious car accidents every year in New York, according to statistics compiled by the state. On average, motor vehicle accidents in New York cause more than 136,000 injuries each year that require emergency medical care. Those accidents also result in more than 12,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,015 fatalities.

Every year in Erie County, an average of 17,000 motor vehicle accidents result in more than 7,100 emergency room visits, more than 400 hospitalizations and 43 fatalities. One recent state study found that motor vehicle accidents were the 5thleading cause of injuries and hospitalizations in Erie County.

Where do accidents happen in Buffalo?

Car accidents can happen anywhere in Buffalo or Erie County, but certain roads, highways and intersections are more dangerous than others. According to accident data compiled by New York State, the following are the 10 most dangerous intersections in Buffalo:

  • Bailey Avenue & Seneca Street
  • Bailey Avenue & East Delavan Avenue
  • Bailey Avenue & Walden Avenue
  • Bailey Avenue & Genesee Street
  • Bailey Avenue & Clinton Street
  • Broadway Street & Bailey Avenue
  • Church Street & State Highway 5
  • Humboldt Parkway & East Ferry Street
  • Sheridan Drive & Delaware Avenue
  • Sheridan Drive & North Forest Road

It’s likely no surprise to anyone from the Buffalo area that six of the top 10 most dangerous intersections are on Bailey Avenue, which is infamous for its lack of street markings, uncoordinated traffic signals, and dangerous turns into multi-use lanes. There are dozens of crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians on this road every year, many of them at those dangerous intersections.

Another independent study ranked Niagara Falls Boulevard in Buffalo among the five most dangerous roads in New York State. In addition, accidents often occur on many highways and interstates that run through Buffalo and other parts of Erie County, including:

  • New York State Thruway (Interstate 90)
  • Interstate 190
  • Interstate 290
  • Interstate 990

Wherever your accident happened, make sure you have the New York Police or the local police investigate your crash. That way, you can get a copy of the official police accident report, which can be an important piece of evidence in support of your injury claim.

Why do accidents happen in Buffalo?

Car accidents in Buffalo and Erie County happen for many different reasons, but most come down to drivers behaving in a reckless or negligent manner. Some of the most common causes of car accidents in Buffalo and surrounding communities include:

  • Distracted driving – Whether it’s texting while driving, talking on a cellphone, or engaging in other distracting behavior on the road, distracted driving is the “number one contributing factor” for car accidents in New York State, according to state officials.
  • Speeding – Many drivers go too fast and don’t have time to stop and avoid a collision. Each year, an average of 13 people die in speeding accidents in Erie County.
  • Drunk driving – The dangers of drunk driving have been well documented for decades. Even so, some drivers still cause accidents while under the influence of alcohol. On average, 13 people are killed in drunk driving accidents in Erie County every year.
  • Tired driving – Many drivers fall asleep at the wheel and cause serious accidents. This is especially true on highways like I-90, where people, especially commercial truck drivers, might be driving across New York State late at night and might not be fully awake while they’re behind the wheel.
  • Reckless driving – Whether it’s passing illegally, tailgating, or running a red light, some drivers take unnecessary risks on the road, resulting in serious accidents that cause severe injuries.

These are just some of the reasons why car accidents happen in Buffalo and other parts of Erie County. Whatever the circumstances of your crash, make sure you have an experienced attorney conduct an in-depth investigation of your car accident.

New York is a ‘no-fault’ car insurance state – what does that mean?

New York has a "no-fault" car insurance system. This means you will need to start the claim process seeking financial compensation for your accident with your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault.

This process might sound straightforward. But actually getting the money you deserve can sometimes be very difficult. This is especially true if the value of your injury claim adds up to more than what’s covered by your insurance policy, which is often the case in serious motor vehicle accidents. In such cases, you may need to step outside the no-fault system and pursue a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.

Who’s responsible for paying for my accident?

If your accident crosses the “serious injury” threshold, then you can hold the at-fault driver liable for your injuries. There are several types of injuries that cross this threshold in New York:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • A fracture (broken bone)
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • A non-permanent injury that prevents the injured person from performing all of their usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days after the accident

In these situations, you can file a third-party claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver, or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver (in which their interests will be represented by the insurance company).

However, don’t be surprised if the at-fault driver’s insurance company does everything they can to reduce or deny your claim. Going it alone is rarely a good option. It’s far better to have an experienced Buffalo car accident lawyer on your side, investigating your crash.

Your attorney can gather evidence in support of your injury claim and present such information to the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Your lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf with the other driver’s insurance company.

How much is my accident claim worth?

Studies conducted by insurance companies estimate the average claim is worth $15,000 to $30,000 per accident. But that’s just an average and shouldn’t be used as a way to calculate the value of your specific claim, as any given accident can easily add up to significantly more money. This is especially true if a car accident results in a serious injury or fatality.

So how much is your accident worth? The bottom line is there’s no set dollar amount when it comes to how much your injury claim is worth. You can – and should – be financially compensated for all past, present, and future accident-related expenses, including all medical care, vehicle repair or replacement costs and replacement income if you cannot work due to your injury. If you have a serious or permanent injury, this can easily add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How can a Buffalo car accident attorney help?

The insurance companies deal with claims every day, and if you try to face them alone, you start off at a significant disadvantage. This is why it’s important to have an experienced Buffalo car accident lawyer who knows the area and understands how the legal system works in Erie County. Putting an experienced attorney on your side levels the playing field.

Your attorney will start by conducting an in-depth, independent investigation to find evidence in support of your injury claim. Such evidence can range from a careful analysis of your official New York car accident report compiled by the investigating police officer to interviewing witnesses who saw your crash. Attorneys also often turn to accident reconstruction experts who can review your crash in more detail.

Your lawyer can present evidence to the insurance company responsible for paying for your accident and put pressure on them to make a fair settlement offer. Often, this is enough to get them to pay. However, if the insurance company decides to be difficult, your attorney can take legal action on your behalf, including filing a lawsuit if necessary and fighting for the money you deserve in court.

The stakes are high after a bad car accident. You only have one opportunity to get all the money you deserve for your accident-related expenses. Make sure you make the most of your opportunity for justice. Talk to an experienced Buffalo car accident attorney right away. Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer in your area.

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