How Does The New York No-Fault Car Accident Law Affect Me?

A car crash can be a life-changing experience. The accident itself is often the start of what becomes a long and laborious process of claiming compensation. After a car accident, it’s not always easy to file an insurance claim, identify all the at-fault parties, win the maximum benefits you deserve, and most significantly, get the closure you need to focus on what next in your life. You don’t have to go through this alone; get in touch with the skilled personal injury lawyers at the reputable Stern Law Firm for legal counsel.

New York is a no-fault law state; hence, you need to know the right steps to protect your interest and recover your losses if you or your loved ones have been in a car accident in NYC.

NY’S NO-FAULT INSURANCE RULES

Since New York is a “no-fault” state, you’ll need to file a first-party claim for a car accident to be sure your own medical bills and lost wages are covered. Thus, if you have suffered injuries in a car crash in New York City, the journey to compensation starts with your own insurance company.

Generally, you can’t start by filling a third-party claim—claim against the other driver for the damages which you suffered. Instead, you’ll rely on your own motor vehicle insurance carrier to recover monetary losses up-to the limits of your own insurance policy.

You’ll get compensation irrespective of the party that caused the accident. For an accident where you were a passenger, you’d ordinarily turn to the no-fault insurance coverage of the motorist whose vehicle in which you were riding—not your own policy.
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Chest and head injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Back and neck injuries.
  • Internal bleeding
  • Lacerations and permanent scarring
  • Leg and arm injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Herniated spinal discs and nerve injuries
However, if you have sustained “serious injuries,” which are often significant and sometimes catastrophic, you may not remain within the confines of no-fault law. You can file a third-party liability claim in car accidents that results in injuries such as:
  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • A permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
  • A permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • A significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • A “medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or If your damages qualify, the at-fault driver can be held responsible for all your losses, including medical bills, car damage, loss of enjoyment of life, pain, mental anguish, suffering, among other non-economic injuries.

COMMON CAR ACCIDENT DAMAGES

Most car accident victims include only their direct accident-related costs in their claims. However, that’s often the tip of the iceberg. Typically, losses associated with a crash continue to pile up for even years later. Car accident expenses can include:
  • Lost earnings
  • Emergency medical bills
  • Physical therapy
  • In-home nursing care
  • Home modification expenses (to accommodate your current circumstances in case of permanent disability)
  • Long-term medical care
  • Vehicle replacement or repairs
  • In-home help with domestic chores
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Lost future earning capacity, especially in cases of permanent disability
Unless the entire policy is tendered, it is often not to prudent to accept the first settlement offer; however reasonable it might appear. Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer for a proper, professional evaluation of your losses. While a settlement offer might seem fair, it may not come close to the real value of all your losses.

HOW DO THE NY NO-FAULT RULES WORK?

How it works is that an insurance carrier pays the accident expenses directly to its own client to cover damages, such as lost incomes, minor injuries, and medical and related travel expenses up to $50,000, irrespective of what or who caused the crash. While the minimum amount recoverable per car accident victim for economic losses is $50,000, if you’ve suffered losses that are over $50,000, or if your injuries are “serious,” you’re not necessarily limited to the no-fault minimums. Sometimes, the vehicular coverage is greater with APIP or OBEL coverage. A lawyer can help you file a personal injury lawsuit or liability claim against all the at-fault parties.

The NY’s no-fault car accident system covers:

  • All medical treatment expenses associated with the accident, including medical bills, physical therapy, and psychiatric treatment—minus some specific deductions defined in the statute
  • The monthly payment for lost income up to $2,000 for up to three years (again, minus specified deductions)
  • Other costs related costs (up to $25 per day) for up to a year after the car crash.
 

However, some exceptions can make a car accident victim ineligible for compensation under the no-fault insurance rules:

  • Injured while knowingly riding in or driving a stolen vehicle
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI)
  • An intentionally caused accident
  • Motorcyclists
  • Scooter or Vespa Riders—depending on the scooter’s engine size (this exemption excludes a pedestrian who is hit)
  • Driving an uninsured car
  • Out-of-state policies (in some circumstances)

COMPULSORY NYC CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE

It’s illegal to operate an uninsured car in New York City. You must have on hand physical evidence of your car insurance coverage at all times. If you drive an uninsured vehicle, you can incur heavy penalties or worse, particularly if a car accident happens. New York’s minimum coverage requirements are as follows:

Minimum amount of liability requirement ($) 

Type of coverage

25,000 per person
personal injury protection (PIP)
50,000 per person
wrongful death protection
50,000 (PIP)
no-fault insurance
100,000 (aggregate per accident)
wrongful death protection
10,000 per occurrence
property damage protection
50,000 per incident or 25,000 per person
underinsured and uninsured coverage
A large number of accidents cause losses that surpass these minimum limits. If car accident damages are more than your insurance policy limits, your next course of action can be to open your pocket, mostly if the accident was your fault. Thus, it’s vital to review your car insurance policy and ensure you include all the necessary coverage, not just the legal minimum obligatory requirements. Supplemental/Uninsured/Under-insured coverage on your policy can enlarge the coverage available if the careless driver has less insurance coverage than you. It is important to put your insurer on notice of the SUM-UM claim as soon as possible after the accident.

THE NEW YORK STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Generally, a car accident victim has three years in NY to claim or sue from the date accident’s date. A deadline for taking legal action against a wrongdoer is called a “statute of limitations.” It is the period of time following the accident in which the action must be started. After the expiration of the three years, if you don’t start a lawsuit, you forfeit your right to take any measure to recover your damages unless you can convince a court to toll the statute of limitations. Tolling allows for the delaying or pausing the running of the period specified in a statute of limitations. There are some exceptions, including infancy (if the injured victim is under the age of 18). A Court may allow the tolling of the statute of limitations in situations such as when the claimant is operating under a legal disability:

  • legally insane
  • a minor
  • incapacitated
  • out of the state
  • in prison

While you may have up to three years to bring a claim, you shouldn’t wait that long. You must put your insurer on written notice of your intent and file no fault applications with your insurer or the host driver’s insurer within 30 days of the accident. Moreover, some respondents, such as negligent municipalities, require you to file a NOC (Notice of Claim) not more than 90 days after the car accident and commence the action within a year and 90 days of the accident.

To preserve crucial evidence, to make sure the mandatory filings are done within the applicable time frames, and to protect your interests, you should immediately get in touch with a lawyer. Typically, when you delay filing a claim, it often becomes difficult to win your case. Please don’t give the at-fault party time to cover their tracks. Moreover, evidence naturally disappears with time, witnesses disappear, and memories also fade. It is crucial to move quickly to preserve evidence.

Insurance carriers often begin their investigations within days, if not hours. They do so with one primary purpose in mind: to deny a claim, save money and ensure profits. That’s where an attorney comes in. Winning the maximum compensation you deserve can prove difficult as your insurance company will often try to contest the claim. Call (516) 294-2664 to get in touch with the skilled New York City personal injury attorney at the reputable Stern Law Firm if you or your loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident.

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