Car Accident Fault Laws in New York

After a car accident in the State of New York, the parties involved turn initially to their own personal injury protection insurance (PIP) coverage for payments to cover the cost of medical bills and lost income due to injuries. This occurs regardless of who is responsible for the accident.

New York is a “no-fault” state regarding auto insurance. State law requires motorists to buy and maintain PIP auto insurance. The requirement that drivers carry no-fault insurance is intended to reduce personal injury lawsuits by ensuring that anyone injured in a car accident will be reimbursed for his or her losses.

However, a person who is severely injured may still sue the at-fault party for additional compensation if his or her losses meet a threshold of seriousness defined by state law. In that situation, the lawsuit is governed by New York’s pure comparative fault rules.

New York car accident claims are complex because of the state’s no-fault and comparative fault laws. If you have suffered serious injuries, you must demonstrate eligibility to file a personal injury claim outside of the no-fault system.

At David Resnick & Associates, our car accident attorneys can assist you with all aspects of an injury claim when your injuries are serious. We can make sure your PIP insurer pays the full amount that you are due under your policy. If your injuries are serious, we will gather evidence to demonstrate your eligibility to file a civil lawsuit and seek the maximum compensation available under the law.

For free guidance about a car accident claim, call David Resnick & Associates, P.C., now or fill out our online contact form.

What is No-Fault Insurance in New York?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a type of no-fault insurance. It is intended to pay promptly, regardless of who is at fault in a car accident. It pays for economic losses, which means medical expenses, lost earnings, and certain other reasonable and necessary expenses related to injuries sustained.

New York State law requires motorists to carry PIP coverage of $50,000. Your PIP policy covers you and all members of your household if involved in a car wreck anywhere in the United States. It also provides coverage for any passengers if they are not covered under another auto insurance policy in New York State.

If you hit a pedestrian while driving a motor vehicle in New York State, that pedestrian accident victim is also protected by your no-fault insurance.

Benefits of No-Fault PIP Protection and Requirements in NY

Basic no-fault auto insurance coverage in New York includes:

  • 100% of reasonable and necessary accident-related medical and rehabilitation expenses.
  • 80% of lost earnings from work, up to a maximum payment of $2,000 per month for up to three years from the date of the accident. This payment may be subject to statutory offsets for payments under New York State disability or Worker’s Compensation, or federal Social Security disability benefits.
  • Up to $25 a day for up to a year from the date of the accident for other reasonable expenses required because of the accident such as household help and transportation expenses to medical treatment.
  • A one-time $2,000 death benefit (in addition to the $50,000 basic no-fault limit), payable to the estate of a person eligible for no-fault benefits who is killed in a motor vehicle accident.

New York State law also requires that motorists carry a minimum amount of auto liability insurance with coverage of:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons
  • $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.

Liability coverage pays for injuries to others and damage to others’ vehicles if the policyholder was at fault in a car accident. The coverage ensures payments to the injured if the policyholder or another driver with permission to drive the car caused an accident that resulted in serious injury or death to others or damage to their property.

How Does a No-Fault Insurance Claim Work in New York?

Under New York’s no-fault auto insurance system, you initially submit a claim to your insurer after an accident. Your insurance carrier should then pay according to the PIP coverage you hold, likely the minimum of up to $50,000 required by the state.

However, if you are seriously injured, you or your family will learn quickly that $50,000 does not go far. If your injuries are considered serious under the threshold set by state law, you can pursue a claim for additional compensation against the driver who caused your car accident. To qualify as serious, injuries must cause:

  • Bone fracture
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system, or
  • Substantial full disability for 90 days.

If you have suffered any of these conditions, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance, which covers medical expenses from bodily injury and vehicle damage. If seriously injured, you may also seek compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, property damages and noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.

To pursue a personal injury claim requires you to be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the insurer or a court that the other driver was legally responsible for the accident.

Demonstrating legal responsibility requires showing negligence and causation. Negligence means the other driver broke a traffic rule or drove with unreasonable carelessness. Causation means that the driver’s negligence was a direct cause of the crash, which led to your injuries.

To demand compensation, you must show your losses. The cost of medical bills, medication, travel to appointments and loss of income should cover your quantifiable economic losses. Your non-economic losses include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Comparative Fault in NY Car Accidents

Another point of NY personal injury law to keep in mind is that New York is a “pure comparative fault” state under N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1411.

Under comparative fault rules, compensation awarded in a personal injury claim is apportioned according to how much each party is at fault. At the conclusion of a trial, if the jury decides damages should be awarded, it determines an amount and then decides how much each party in the case contributed to the accident. A percentage is assigned to everyone, and the injured party’s damages are reduced accordingly if he or she was found to be partly at fault.

For example, if you were found to be 25% at fault for an accident because you were speeding, a $100,000 award would be reduced to $75,000.

As NYC car accident attorneys pursuing a lawsuit on your behalf, we would determine in our investigation the potential fault of all parties in the case. Where evidence seems to weigh against you, we would work to mitigate its impact on your case. We would also gather evidence to build a solid understanding of how the accident occurred so that we could rebut any unfounded accusations against you.

Most car accident claims are settled outside of court by negotiating a settlement with insurers. In negotiations, the principle of comparative fault applies, but the impact of your contribution to the accident, if any, is considered less formally. In court, a jury must state a specific percentage of your contributory negligence or assumption of risk, and that figure is applied to reduce the damages you receive.

How Can a New York Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

New York’s no-fault insurance system, comparative fault law and rules for personal injury lawsuits make car accident claims in the state very complex. Insurers deal with these rules every day, as do our New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C. We can help you understand your rights to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses in a car accident.

Our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in car accident lawsuits throughout New York City. We can investigate and properly value your claim and negotiate aggressively for a fair and just settlement. If we must go to court, we will do so with a strong case.

For a free initial evaluation of your case, contact the firm today by calling (212) 279-2000 or by filling out our online contact form. The aftermath of a car accident can be a challenging time for a victim who has been badly injured, but an experienced attorney can handle legal matters for your benefit while you focus on medical care and recovery.