New York is one of a handful of states nationwide that have “no-fault” insurance laws. This means that all drivers are required to purchase no-fault auto insurance, which includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
If you are injured in a car accident in New York, your first resort for compensation must be your own insurance rather than another driver’s, no matter who was at fault, hence the term “no-fault.” This requirement can make it more difficult to win compensation in a personal injury claim here than in other states, but it is sometimes possible to go beyond your own PIP coverage under specific circumstances.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident in New York, it is important to understand how no-fault insurance might affect your options for seeking compensation. You may have to settle for an insurance claim under your own PIP policy, or you may be able to seek additional compensation from another motorist’s insurer. In any case, an experienced New York personal injury attorney can help you weigh your options and choose which one is appropriate for your situation.
What PIP Covers
PIP, or “basic” no-fault insurance, is a required part of every auto insurance policy in the state of New York. This coverage will reimburse you for many of the costs associated with a car accident. By law, any basic no-fault insurance policy must cover all of the following, for a total of up to $50,000 per person:
- All necessary medical expenses associated with recovery from the accident
- 80 percent of lost wages from time off work due to injuries
- Up to $25 a day for other accident-related expenses
- A $2,000 death benefit (not taken from the $50,000 total) for a person killed in an accident, paid to their estate
Some policies include coverage beyond these basic requirements. If you are injured in a car accident, it is important to review your policy to see how much compensation you may be entitled to. If you are unsure what your policy includes, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you determine what additional coverage, if any, you have purchased. It is also important to note that PIP is not the part of your insurance that covers property damage to your car or personal effects. It is merely for costs associated with your bodily injuries.
Going Beyond PIP
There are limited circumstances in which you can go beyond your PIP coverage and pursue compensation from the driver who caused your accident. This option is essentially reserved for some of the worst cases. There are two factors that can allow you to seek damages from the other driver: a loss of more than $50,000 or a “serious injury.” A serious injury can include:
- Permanent impairment in using a body part or organ
- Significant impairment to a body system or function
- Fractured bones
- An impairment medically determined to keep you from doing your usual activities for at least half of the first 180 days after the accident
If you have suffered any of these types of injuries, or a loss of more than $50,000, you may be able to seek compensation from the other party’s insurance. There may be other types of injuries that would be considered “serious,” but these are some of the most common. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether your injuries are serious enough to go to the other driver’s insurance.
All drivers in New York state are required to carry liability insurance in the amount of $25,000 for the injury or $50,000 for the death of one person, as well as $50,000 for the injury for $100,000 for the death of two or more. If your situation allows you to go to the other driver’s insurance, you can seek compensation up to these amounts or more if the policy has higher limits. However, unlike making a PIP claim, doing so will require you to prove the other driver was at fault.
In car accidents, as in any other kind of personal injury case, proving fault typically involves proving negligence. Negligence means that a person had a reasonable duty of care to do something, that they failed to do so, and that their carelessness caused you an injury. Drivers must keep track of a huge number of factors on the road, so there are many ways in which they might act negligently, including:
- Drunk driving
- Texting while driving
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Turning left in front of oncoming traffic
- Driving the wrong way
- Failing to signal
- Driving with faulty car parts
These and a number of other factors can help to establish that the other driver was acting negligently. Even if you were doing something negligent, you can still prove fault in New York, as long as the other driver was more at fault. The damages you recover would simply be reduced in relation to how much fault you bore. Obtaining police reports and witness reports can be helpful in proving fault, and an experienced car accident lawyer can help you put together these and other pieces of evidence into a case that the other driver was more at fault.
Contact Us for Legal Help After a Car Accident in New York
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is an extremely difficult time in your life. In addition to dealing with the pain of your recovery and the cost of medical bills and vehicle repairs, navigating the insurance process can be a headache of its own.
Whether your compensation might be limited to your own basic no-fault insurance, or whether you might be able to win damages from the other driver as well, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you chart the right path for your situation. Powers & Santola, LLP has years of experience fighting for drivers like you in Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, and surrounding areas. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in New York, contact the car accident lawyers of Powers & Santola today by phone or online for a free consultation.