How Does Car Accident Compensation Work In New York?
Our attorneys are serious about helping you understand the details
Life as a New Yorker is hectic enough as is. Daily commutes are rushed, the streets are packed with cars and pedestrians all with places to be, and all at once. The last thing you need to deal with is a car accident. The aftermath of a collision leads to a complicated process that involves legal jargon and obscure injury compensation procedures. You need trusted legal aid that knows the Bronx and New York, and knows what you're going through.
At Giampa Law, we've been providing top-quality legal representation to injured people in the Bronx and elsewhere in New York for 30 years and counting. Our personal approach means we treat you like family, and take care of you like family. Being in a car accident can seem like a nightmare. It doesn't have to be. Here are some basics to be familiar with that can help break down the process of personal injury compensation and what the fight for it means to you.
Is New York a fault or no-fault state?
New York is a “no-fault” state for car accidents. In a no-fault state, you seek compensation for your accident by filing a car crash claim directly with your insurance company. This is called a first party claim. Under these rulings, you generally can’t pursue compensation via filing a claim with the other drivers’ insurance company—known as a third party claim. Instead, you rely on your own coverage to recover financial losses up to your policy limit, and can only step outside the “no fault” system under specific circumstances.
Can I file a car accident lawsuit in New York?
If the injuries sustained in an auto accident are severe enough to result in disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, or bone fracture, you become eligible to pursue an auto accident lawsuit in civil court, filed directly against the driver responsible for the accident. This window of opportunity doesn’t exist forever, though. There is a time limit on one’s ability to sue, called the statute of limitations. In New York, the statute of limitations is three years for a personal injury suit and the same for a property damage suit.
How does it work if I was partially at fault for a car accident?
New York observes “comparative fault” rules, meaning that personal injury compensation claims are apportioned based on the percentage of fault in causing the accident. For example, if your accident resulted in $10,000 worth of damages, but you were found to be 20% at fault because you failed to signal a turn, you are only able to recover $8,000 from the other driver.
That's why it's so important to have a car accident attorney who knows the system on your side; these lawsuits aren't resolved quickly, and the procedures involved can be incredibly convoluted.
What are the car insurance requirements in New York?
It is against the law to drive a car without insurance in New York, and physical proof of your coverage must be on hand at all times. Without it, you could incur a hefty fine or worse, especially if you're involved in an accident. The minimum liability insurance requirements in New York are as follows:
- $25,000 per person PIP (personal injury protection)
- $50,000 per person for wrongful death protection
- $50,000 personal injury protection (no-fault insurance)
- $100,000 total per accident wrongful death protection
- $10,000 per occurrence property damage protection
- $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Note that these are minimum limits, and many accidents cause more damage than the minimum requirements cover. If the injuries and property damage inflicted in an accident exceed your policy limit, your next step may be opening your wallet. That's why it's important to review your policy and make sure you have all the coverage you need, not just the minimum requirements.
How much is my car accident worth?
There is no simple answer to this question because it depends on the extent of your injuries and the effects those injuries have had on your body. What’s tricky is that the full cost of a car accident may not be clear for some time.
For example, if you’re rear-ended and your initial symptoms are limited – say, just a little back pain – then you may think you’re in the clear. However, back pain can be indicative of a more serious underlying injury such as damage to the spinal discs or the facet joints that connect the vertebrae in your spine. Such injuries can lead to chronic pain and permanent disability, affecting your ability to work and earn income. The full cost can easily be in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
The bottom line is that you should be compensated for all your costs related to the accident, both short-term and long-term. Those costs may include:
- Medical bills, including hospital bills, ambulance fees, surgery, physical therapy, medication and other costs.
- Lost wages and lost future income if your injuries affect your ability to work.
- Replacement services, such as home maintenance and child care.
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress and mental anguish.
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium (a legal term for damage to family or intimate relationships due to an injury).
- Property damage, including the diminished resale value of your repaired vehicle.
Ultimately, only a qualified car accident attorney can determine the value of your claim. That’s why you should always talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after a car crash, and certainly before you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company.
What should I do after an accident?
Following a car accident, there are important actions to take in order to properly address your situation.
- Call the police. This allows you to report to the authorities right away, establish your account of the event, and have your damage assessed.
- Don't move any evidence, just capture it where it is. This will provide clear, accurate evidence for your claim.
- Write down a timeline and the details of your accident as soon as you can. As time goes on, your memories of the accident will become less and less clear.
- Write down and record the other driver's license and registration information, as well as their insurance company's contact information.
- Contact us to help get you peace of mind, and experienced legal aid. We take your case as personally as you do.
- Get medical attention. Do this as soon as possible-if there are EMTs at the scene of your accident, don't turn down an evaluation. See a doctor as soon as possible- internal and brain injuries can take days to be noticeable, so it's important for your health to be seen as soon as possible. Also, if you wait to seek medical attention, an insurance company may use that delay against you.
What does PIP insurance cover in New York?
Being in a no-fault state means that in place of liability claims and lawsuits in the event of an accident that didn't result in severe injury, your insurance company is who should pay you directly for things like medical bills and your lost wages up to your policy limit. If you are injured in an accident, you may need to take time off of work to recuperate. This is where your PIP kicks in, your personal injury protection. It will (up to your policy limit) reimburse the wages you lost from missing work. PIP also covers medical expenses, again up to your policy limit.
In addition to PIP, there are several other types of coverage (some optional) that your own insurance policy may provide:
- Collision Coverage: This insurance is not optional if you are leasing or financing a car. It pays for damage to your vehicle sustained in an accident, up to the fair market value of the vehicle.
- Comprehensive Coverage: Like collision coverage, this pays compensation if your car is damaged. These damages are non-accident-related, though, like vandalism and theft.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage allows you to claim compensation through your own policy in place of another motorist's liability coverage, if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
I've been hit by an Underinsured/Uninsured driver, what now?
New York requires you to carry underinsured motorist coverage, and for good reason. Plenty of motorists simply don't have the funds to purchase the amount of insurance that the law requires. If you suffer $60,000 in damages, but the other driver's policy limit is the bare minimum, your underinsured motorist insurance will be there to compensate for the difference, up to your policy limit.
What if you're hit by someone who has no insurance? Some drivers like to live on the edge - even though it's illegal - and that doesn't bode well for anyone they're on the road with. Uninsured Motorist coverage means that you can rest easy knowing that you have something to fall back on. Without this coverage, you may be left trying to go after personal assets that don't exist. The details of insurance coverage, and cutting through the red tape to get a settlement can be a long and frustrating process. That's why you need a car accident compensation attorney who can slice through it for you.
We work hard so you can rest easy: a legal team that means business
The best way to maximize car accident compensation: a lawyer who knows the system and fights hard for your rights throughout the process.
We're serious about getting you the compensation you deserve, no matter what. Find out how we can help you by having us evaluate your case for free. Don't wait to talk to an attorney, time flies, memories fade. You're already struggling with physical and emotional recovery, you don't need anything else to worsen your headaches. Your case matters to you, and to us. Grappling with insurance companies and careless drivers isn't worth the time you should be spending returning to your daily life. At Giampa Law, we know New York, and we're serious about helping its injured.