If a careless driver has caused you to suffer serious injury or lose a loved one in a car accident in New York, you have legal rights that must be protected. You should contact our Albany car accident attorney as soon as you are ready to take action.
You may be entitled to go beyond your No-Fault (or Personal Injury Protection) auto insurance coverage and recover just compensation for your losses. You may also be able to seek a recovery through other insurance policies.
The car accident lawyers at Powers & Santola, LLP, have years of experience in helping motor vehicle accident victims and their families in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York. Our record includes:
- $7.3 million recovery for a young man who suffered permanent brain injury after being struck by a department store truck that missed a stop sign
- $6.3 million recovery for a boy who suffered brain injury when a truck with a defectively designed snow plow unit collided with the vehicle he was riding in
- $4.5 million recovery for an 18-year-old boy who suffered paraplegia when the car he was riding in as a passenger left the road and struck a utility pole head-on, fracturing his spine.
Each case is different. The amount that can be recovered in your case will depend on many factors. Our firm can assess your case and explain the options available to you in a timely and free consultation. Contact us today to get started.
What Is No-Fault Insurance?
If you have registered your vehicle in New York, it means you have at least “basic” No-Fault insurance. This is also called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
Your No-Fault insurance will cover your “basic economic loss” up to $50,000 per each person who has been injured in the crash. You, all relatives who reside in your home and any passengers in your vehicle at the time of the crash are covered.
No-Fault insurance covers only losses arising from bodily injury. It does not apply to property damage. It also does not cover pain and suffering damages.
Basic No-Fault Insurance will provide “first-party benefits,” including:
- Necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses
- 80 percent of lost work earnings (capped at $2,000 per month and limited to three years)
- $25 per day, maximum, for up to one year after the crash for other reasonable and necessary expenses
- $2,000 death benefit (in addition to the $50,000 basic no-fault limit) to the estate of a person killed in a motor vehicle accident.
A car accident attorney can review your auto insurance policy to see if you have additional coverage. For instance, you may have purchased supplemental PIP coverage.
When Can a Car Accident Attorney Go Beyond No-Fault Insurance?
You may be entitled to bring a claim for additional economic losses and/or pain and suffering damages against the negligent driver(s) who caused your crash if:
- You have suffered basic economic loss that goes beyond $50,000, or
- You have suffered a “serious injury.”
In contrast to a No-Fault Insurance claim, you must establish that another driver was at fault. You will turn to the other driver’s liability insurance policy for your recovery, not your own policy. In New York, drivers must carry liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:
- $25,000 for bodily injury/$50,000 for death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury/$100,000 for death of two or more persons
- $10,000 for property damage.
If a driver who caused your crash has no insurance, or if you were injured by a driver who fled the scene (a hit-and-run driver), you can turn to your own uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
In New York, your insurer must also provide UM coverage. The insurer must provide it to you in the same minimum amounts as liability coverage. Your UM policy will cover only your losses arising from bodily injury, not property damage.
If the other driver had liability insurance, but it does not fully cover your losses, you may be able to rely on your own underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. This insurance will cover losses that exceed the other driver’s coverage up to the amount of UIM coverage you have purchased.
As you can see, many different insurance policies may need to be reviewed in your case. An experienced car accident attorney from Powers & Santola, LLP, can sort through these policies while you focus on getting better after your crash. Furthermore, if you were involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, such as a truck accident, there may be additional parties who can be held liable for your injuries.
What Is ‘Fault’ in a Car Accident?
Fault means that a driver caused an auto accident through his or her careless or reckless actions. The legal term for this behavior is “negligence.” The types of fault that our car accident lawyers typically encounter are:
- Speeding – Exceeding the posted speed limit or failing to follow a safe speed for conditions such as snow, ice, fog and rain
- Drinking and driving – Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher or any amount of alcohol that prevents one from being able to safely operate a motor vehicle
- Drugged driving – Being impaired by illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs
- Distracted driving – Texting, talking on a cell phone, interacting with passengers or allowing any other distraction to interfere with safe operation of a motor vehicle (this is common among teen drivers)
- Fatigued driving – Driving while overly tired or falling asleep at the wheel, which is often linked to alcohol or drug use
- Reckless driving – Tailgating, making frequent lane changes and ignoring traffic signals are common forms of aggressive, reckless driving
- Faulty car parts – Often the result of a flawed design and manufacturing process or the result of faulty maintenance. Defective tires, wheels, brakes and steering columns frequently cause crashes. Vehicles may also be prone to rollovers due to their design
- Road conditions – Poor design, construction and maintenance of roads and dangerous work zones can be factors in crashes.
You may also be at fault for your car accident. However, New York is a pure comparative fault state. You would not be barred from a recovery even if you were partially to blame for the crash. However, your recovery would be reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you.
If the other driver engaged in conduct that could be deemed “gross negligence” – a conscious or reckless disregard for the safety of others – you may be entitled to seek punitive damages in your legal claim. These damages are meant to punish and deter such conduct. Drunk driving is an example.
What Is a ‘Serious Injury?’
You cannot bring a claim for pain and suffering damages against another driver in New York unless you (or your loved one) meet the “serious injury threshold.” In other words, the bodily injury must have resulted in one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of the use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of the use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury/impairment that keeps you from performing your usual or customary activities for at least 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the accident.
Several types of injuries may meet this threshold, including:
Amputations, traumatic brain injury (TBI), severe spinal cord injury (SCI), internal organ damage and burns may meet this threshold. However, a cut, bruise or minor soft-tissue injury that does not result in a “total loss of use” may not meet it. An attorney from our firm can provide a frank assessment of your case.
How Can a Syracuse or Albany Car Accident Attorney Help You after an Auto Accident?
The car accident lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, can put its many decades of combined experience to work for you. Our service can include:
- Conducting a thorough investigation of your case
- Helping to ensure you get the medical care you need while your case is pending
- Reviewing all insurance policies that apply in your case
- Consulting with qualified experts, including accident reconstruction experts, engineers, doctors, rehabilitation specialists and economists
- Making sure all claims in your case are accurately and timely filed
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
- Presenting your case in court
- Resolving any liens on your recovery.
It starts by contacting us today and speaking with a skilled, experience and highly dedicated car accident attorney from our firm. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a car accident in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York State, simply call or reach us online today. Our consultations are timely, free and confidential.