Most people think that recovering their losses after a car accident means filing a lawsuit against the other driver. However, in New York, this is not necessarily the case.
New York is among the relatively small number of states that have adopted a “no fault” insurance law. This law has a significant impact on your legal rights after a car accident in the Empire State.
An experienced car accident lawyer can advise you of your rights under the New York “no fault” law. Some of the most common questions related to “no fault” accident claims include:
Under New York’s “no fault” insurance law, your first source of financial recovery after a car accident is your own insurance policy, not the other driver’s. You must file a claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) policy, and your insurance company is supposed to provide coverage regardless of who was at fault in your accident.
New York’s “no fault” insurance law requires all drivers to carry PIP coverage. So, if you have purchased the legally required auto insurance, then you have PIP. Your PIP policy also covers your passengers, and it covers you if you are hit as a pedestrian. By law, drivers in New York are required to carry a minimum $50,000 in PIP insurance coverage.
New York’s “no fault” insurance law applies to all car accidents. However, there are circumstances in which you can seek compensation beyond the limits of your PIP policy. Specifically, you can file a fault-based claim if you suffered a “serious injury” in your accident.
Under New York’s “no fault” insurance law, “serious injuries” include bone fractures; loss of a fetus; and other injuries resulting in disability, disfigurement, or dismemberment.
In addition to PIP, New York law also requires drivers to carry bodily injury liability (BIL) and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage with limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. So, if you suffered a “serious injury” as defined by law, then you should be able to seek $25,000 (at minimum) from the other driver’s BIL policy in a fault-based claim. If you were injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can turn to your own insurance company for UIM coverage of $25,000 (again, at minimum) in damages.
You can also seek coverage outside of PIP if a party other than a negligent driver is liable for your injuries. This could be the case, for example, if the at-fault driver was working at the time of the crash (in which case his or her employer may be liable) or if your accident was the result of a vehicle defect.
One of the major drawbacks of New York’s “no fault” insurance law is that PIP does not provide coverage for all accident-related losses. Whereas injured drivers and passengers can seek to fully recover their losses through a BIL or UIM claim, recoverable losses in PIP claims are limited to:
If you have a fault-based claim outside of PIP for a “serious injury,” then you can seek full coverage for your expenses, full wage replacement, compensation for your loss of future earnings, and compensation for your non-financial losses (i.e., pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium, etc.).
As we discussed above, filing an accident claim against the other driver requires evidence of a “serious injury.” In order to avoid liability, the insurance companies may try to dispute the severity of accident victims’ injuries. With this in mind, if you need to seek coverage beyond your PIP limit, it will be extremely important for you to work with an experienced attorney.
It is crucial not to assume that you are restricted to filing a PIP claim. A knowledgeable lawyer can explore all of your options for recovering compensation after an accident.
At Dreyer Boyajian LLP, we have been representing car accident victims in communities throughout New York for more than 30 years. Our attorneys explore all options for pursuing maximum compensation on behalf of our clients, looking beyond PIP coverage to seek recovery for all of the damages in your claim.
Please call Dreyer Boyajian LLP at (518) 463-7784 today for a free case review. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, and other areas of New York.