NEW YORK QUICK AND EASY CONSUMER GUIDES TO ACCIDENT AND MEDICAL MALPRACTICE VOLUME 1-PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS AND CAR ACCIDENTS 10 SECRETS INSURANCE COMPANIES DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PEDESTRIAN AND CAR ACCIDENT CASE The Insurance companies are working against your interests right now. Protect yourself. Be informed. New York Accident and Medical Malpractice Attorney PETER PANAS FAQS ABOUT THE NEW YORK QUICK AND EASY CONSUMER GUIDES 1) What are the New York Quick and Easy Consumer Guides to Accidents and Medical Malpractice? These are concise books written to inform the New York consumer about the process following any type of accident (car accidents, construction accidents, trip and fall accidents,) or medical malpractice. 2) Why is the series called “Quick and Easy?” The series wants to give the New York Consumer basic information about the process following an accident without having to wade through any legal texts or speak to a lawyer. 3) Who is the author of these Consumer Guides? Peter Panas is a New York lawyer who concentrates in accident and medical malpractice cases. You can read more about Mr. Panas later in this book. 4) Why were these Consumer Guides written? After their initial tragedy or accident, too many New York consumers with legitimate claims get injured again through the legal process. Part of the problem is that New York Consumers do not have enough basic information to make informed decisions. This series hopes to partly fill this information gap. 5) Why are these Consumer Guides free? Insurance companies and their lawyers deal with injury claims every day. They know what information they need. They know how to defend themselves. Most accident victims and New York consumers following an accident do not know where to begin or whom to turn to. It’s just not right. This series gives the basic information needed to give a New York Consumer a start at a level playing field. 6) Do the Consumer Guides give legal advice? No. The Consumer Guides only give the New York consumer basic information so that they can avoid common traps that the Insurance Companies and, frankly, the law itself, set for the consumer. Legal advice can be given only when you agree to hire a lawyer and that lawyer has agreed to take your case. INTRODUCTION STOP-YOU ARE ENTERING A WAR ZONE. WITHOUT THE RIGHT GUIDE YOU WILL GET HURT-AGAIN…. My name is Peter Panas. I am the author of the New York Quick and Easy Consumer Guides to Accidents and Medical Malpractice. I am an attorney in New York City who concentrates in accident and malpractice cases. If you want someone who will draft your will, close on your home, handle your DUI, or file your bankruptcy petition, I am not the lawyer for you. I mean it when I say New York Consumers are in a war zone when they are injured in an accident or a result of a doctor’s malpractice. There are three main obstacles in recovering even one cent in your accident or malpractice case. The first obstacle is prejudice. The insurance companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year convincing New York consumers that their neighbors are bringing “frivolous claims” and are represented by “unethical lawyers.” You may have thought this way too. I don’t blame you. Some of my closest friends and family believed these insurance companies lies before they spoke to me or read the books of this series. The point is that many people think this way. The prejudice against consumers, injured accident and malpractice victims is pervasive in New York State. You know this intuitively. You just didn’t feel right when your friend looked at you in “a funny way” after you told your friend that you were injured in an accident and are thinking about bringing a claim. The second obstacle is your lawyer. I have devoted an entire volume in this series as to how to go about choosing the correct lawyer for your accident or malpractice claim. Suffice to say, the insurance companies lawyers devote their time and effort to defeating your claim and claims like yours. They are focused and concentrated in the area of law that applies to your claim. In my geographic area of practice, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Rockland and Westchester counties, most lawyers who defend accident and malpractice lawsuits concentrate in these areas. Rarely, if ever, will you see these lawyers involved with drafting wills, closing on real estate, representing people accused of crimes or filing bankruptcy petition. These lawyers become better at defending your injury and accident claims because this is all they do professionally. I know because I was one of these lawyers before representing New York accident and malpractice victims. Question: Shouldn’t your lawyer devote himself to accident and malpractice law at least as much as the lawyers representing the people you are going to sue? The third obstacle is the law itself. In my opinion, the law and the judges who apply the law are hostile to accident and malpractice victims. If you are late on filing certain documents the damage may be irreparable. Though this may sound shocking to you…. You may be deprived justice if you don’t file certain papers within a certain amount of time in a certain place with a certain form. Now that you know about these three obstacles that apply to all accident and malpractice claims, what can you do? Get informed. This series of books can begin to inform you and be your guide. The series is not a substitute for legal advice. The series is only a temporary measure. Nevertheless, the series should help in answering some of your questions and addressing some of your concerns. After reading this book or books from this series, you need to decide what is the next best step for you and your family. Good luck. PETER PANAS 10 SECRETS INSURANCE COMPANIES DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT OR CAR ACCIDENT: 1) New York is a no-fault state: What this means is that even if you are at fault for the accident (for example you rear-ended the person in front of you), you can still recover for your lost wages and medical expenses up to $50,000. Lost wages and medical expenses are called economic loss and are covered under New York’s no-fault law. 2) You must file for no-fault benefits with the proper insurance company within 30 days of the accident. The law can be confusing and counterintuitive in this area. For example, you are hit in the rear by another car. Do you file for no- fault benefits with the car that hit you or with your own insurance company? Answer: your own insurance company. Another example: you are a passenger in a car that gets hit in the rear by another car. From which insurance company do you receive your no-fault benefits. Answer: From the car that you are a passenger in. Final example: you are injured as a passenger in a bus that flips over. From which insurance company do you receive your no-fault benefits? Answer: From your own insurance company. Be very wary of both the time frame with which to file and with whom to file. 3) New York’s no fault law limits the amount you can recover for lost wages. Unfortunately, New York law allows injured New York pedestrians and car accident victims to recover only $2,000 a month of their lost wages for three years after the accident and only recover up to $50,000. You must sue the responsible party and prove negligence to recover any additional wages lost as a result of the accident. 4) The Insurance Companies love to approach you immediately after your accident and offer you a settlement. Don’t take it. Get informed first. Usually, the offer is significantly below what your case would be worth in the hands of the right car accident lawyer. 5) If you sustained a fracture as a result of the accident and you can prove that the other party is responsible, you can recover for your pain and suffering. Pain and suffering are major elements of the damage that you have endured since the accident. Basically, pain and suffering compensates you for the effect that this accident had on your daily activities of living. It takes into account the type of person that you were before the accident and compares it to the type of person you are now. You should ask a qualified car accident lawyer if you can recover for pain and suffering if you sustained another type of injury. 6) Generally, adults have three years to sue a responsible party in negligence to recover for their pain and suffering. However, different time periods, AS SHORT AS 90 DAYS, apply for actions against municipal defendants like the City of New York. Longer time periods may apply for infants. A qualified car accident attorney should know the applicable time frames for filing your lawsuit. 7) You can recover for your injuries if a hit and run driver or an uninsured driver caused you harm. If you have insurance for your car, or if you live with someone who has car insurance, you may be able to recover for your injuries under that policy. This type of insurance is called uninsured motorist coverage. 8) Even if you do not have car insurance or live with someone who has car insurance and are hit by a hit and run driver or an uninsured driver you can still recover for your injuries. You should file a claim under these circumstances with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. 9) If you are seriously injured, you are not limited to the primary policy limits of the responsible party. If the responsible party has the minimum New York limits of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence, and you have suffered a serious or catastrophic injury or loss, you can recover an amount above $25,000 if your car policy has higher policy limits. This is called underinsured motorist benefits. Also, with larger policies, the responsible party may have an umbrella or excess policy, especially if the responsible party owns a home. A detailed investigation into all forms of available coverage must be undertaken to compensate you for the harm done to you. 10) Not all lawyers are created equal. Something all insurance companies know but too many injured people do not. Insurance companies know who practices in the area of pedestrian and car accidents and who “dabbles” in it. You should know too. After reading this list, I hope you have some sense of the dangers you face following a pedestrian accident or car accident. A WORD FROM YOUR AUTHOR I really should congratulate you. Unlike too many pedestrian and car accident victims, you have taken a small step in taking on the insurance companies. You have familiarized yourself with the law and taken on that third obstacle mentioned in the introduction to this book. But you know that there are at least two other obstacles to recovering in your claim-prejudice and your lawyer. Simply put, the only way to combat these obstacles is to consult and retain a qualified pedestrian and car accident lawyer. In fact, I devoted an entire book on choosing or keeping an accident or malpractice lawyer. You can order this free book by calling my office at (212) 946-4748 or going to my website www.PeterPanaslaw.com. I hope to be that lawyer. Here are 5 reasons why you should hire me: 1) Experience as a person representing both the injured and those who the injured sue: For the first part of my professional life, I represented injured people. For the past few years, I trained with the senior partner of a leading medical malpractice defense firm who was the editor and chief of the New York State Bar Association’s book Medical Malpractice in New York. I have seen how the insurance companies and their lawyers work and I can put that knowledge to work for you. 2) Results when representing the injured: I have attained verdicts and settlements for injured New York consumers in the six and seven figures, including a verdict of over $2,000,000 in one case. 3) Guaranteed Individualized Attention: I will interview you. A paralegal or an associate will not. I will answer your questions, not another lawyer or paralegal. I will appear with you for your deposition. A paralegal or another associate will not. Though most cases settle, I will try your case if it does not settle. There are not many lawyers who can make these guarantees and put them in writing. I just did. 4) Guaranteed Aggressive Representation: How can I guarantee this? Simple. I only take cases I believe in. I turn down those that I don’t believe in or meet my strict criteria. I have provided my criteria for selecting pedestrian and car accident cases in the Special Appendix section of this volume. I know these criteria may sound harsh. But I can only guarantee you individualized attention and aggressive representation if these criteria are met. I limit my case intake. My smaller case load allows me to give your case my full commitment. You deserve that commitment. If I can’t give you that full commitment, I will tell you. I don’t want to hurt you again after what you have been through. 5) Guaranteed no legalese or lawyer talk when speaking or communicating with me: I am a straight shooter. I hate lawyer talk. I will communicate and explain legal concepts to you in plain English. I will write to you in plain English. If you hear me say subsequent instead of after, you have my permission to scream “lawyer talk” loudly. I promise I will stop. Whatever you decide to do next, please choose wisely and promptly. If you choose me to represent you, I look forward to working for you and giving you and your family the justice you seek. PETER PANAS SPECIAL APPENDIX-PETER PANAS CRITERIA FOR SELECTING A PEDESTRIAN AND CAR ACCIDENT CASE 1) Fractures-with this type of injury, I am willing to overlook some of my other criteria under certain circumstances. 2) Evidence of property damage (car accident only). I need to see photographic evidence of property damage to at least one of the cars involved in the accident. With the exception of fractures, I believe that jurors will not believe that someone sustained an injury from an accident if there is no evidence of property damage. 3) I will not accept your case if you rear ended another car unless the other car into your lane. I know the other car may have stopped short, but the law does not care and you will lose the case. 4) Injuries other than fractures only if: 1) You went to the hospital; or 2) You did not go to the hospital but soon after the accident went to your primary care doctor, a neurologist, or orthopedist. I will not take a case where the only care rendered was from a chiropractor absent extraordinary circumstances. 5) If the police cited you for the accident, I will probably not take your case unless another police officer was the other car involved in the accident or a credible witness to the accident describes the accident differently. 6) If you have retained another lawyer, I will probably not take your case unless it is soon after the accident or if you have suffered serious injury as a matter of law. ABOUT THE AUTHOR New York accident and malpractice attorney Peter Panas has represented both individuals and insurance companies in his years of practice. After witnessing first hand how insurance companies and their attorneys systematically deprive injured New Yorkers of their rights, he has concentrated his practice on representing only injured individuals. Mr. Panas is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University and received his law degree from Rutgers University. At age 26, Mr. Panas became one of the youngest members of the New York bar to achieve a million dollar verdict. He is a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association of Justice. He is the author of the multivolume series New York Quick and Easy Consumer Guide to Accident and Malpractice Cases. For more information about accidents, malpractice or the author visit www.PeterPanaslaw.com or call (212) 946-4748.