When you are injured in a car accident, recovering financial compensation can be essential. Not only might you need coverage for your medical expenses, but you may need to recoup your lost wages, vehicle repair bills, and other out-of-pocket costs as well. If you were seriously injured, your pain and suffering could impact all aspects of your life, and you may need to seek additional compensation for these and other forms of non-financial harm.
So, what are your legal rights after a car accident in New York? In other words, when do you have a claim for car accident compensation?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Claim
First, you should be able to file a claim for personal injury protection (PIP) (also known as “MedPay” coverage). Under New York’s no-fault insurance law, all drivers are required to carry PIP insurance; for some accident victims, filing a PIP claim will be their only source of financial recovery.
Unless you have suffered a “serious injury” (more on this below), New York’s no-fault insurance law prevents you from filing a claim against the other driver—even if he or she was at fault in the collision.
If you were driving and you have PIP insurance, you will file a claim with your own auto insurance company. If you were a passenger, you can file a claim under the driver’s PIP policy, or, you can file a claim with your own insurance company under PIP coverage.
New York’s mandatory minimum for no-fault insurance coverage is $50,000. In some cases, this may be enough to cover the direct financial costs of their injuries. However, in many other cases it will not be enough; and, critically, PIP insurance does not provide any coverage for accident victims’ non-financial losses.
Fault-Based Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Claim
With this in mind, many accident victims will need to seek additional compensation outside of PIP. Fortunately, New York’s no-fault insurance law allows accident victims to seek additional compensation if they suffer a “serious injury.”
If you are diagnosed with a “serious injury” following a car accident, you have the legal right to file a fault-based claim against the driver who injured you. If he or she has insurance, this will most likely involve filing a claim under his or her bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance policy.
Section 5102(d) of the New York State Insurance Law defines a “serious injury” as follows:
“[A] personal injury which results in . . . dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or 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 ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”
As you can see, this definition covers a wide variety of types of injuries. Once you obtain a diagnosis, your New York car accident attorney will be able to tell you if your injury meets the requirements for filing a fault-based claim.
What does it mean for the other driver to be “at fault” in a car accident? Fault can take many different forms, including:
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Drunk driving
- Following too closely
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Road rage
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Weaving through traffic
The other driver’s insurance company will try to pay you as little as possible. It is important to contact a car accident lawyer to advocate on your behalf.
You May Have a Third Party Claim as Well
In addition to potentially having a claim against the other driver, if someone else was at fault in the accident, you could potentially have a “third party” claim as well. Depending on the circumstances involved, this could include a claim against the driver’s employer, the manufacturer of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, or the government agency responsible for the road (to name a few).
Some examples of grounds for pursuing compensation from a third party after a car accident in New York include:
- The other driver was working at the time of the accident
- The accident was caused by a vehicle defect
- The accident was caused by a faulty repair or negligent maintenance work
- The accident was caused by an issue with the road
- You were forced to swerve to miss a reckless bicycle rider or pedestrian
Accident claims involving third parties are often complicated. The attorney you choose should have experience and results in cases where a third party was fully or partially at fault for the crash.
Discuss Your Claim with a New York Car Accident Lawyer at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC
At O’Connor & Partners, PLLC, our lawyers have extensive experience representing car accident victims and their families. If you have been injured and would like to learn more about filing a claim for compensation, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation.
To speak with an attorney at our offices in Kingston, Newburgh, or Poughkeepsie in confidence, call (845) 303-8777 or tell us about your accident online today.