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Recovering Car Accident Compensation in New York

Offered by Giampa Law

When you’ve been in a car accident in New York, there can be devastating consequences. You can be left in physical pain and in need of medical treatment. The experience of the crash can be emotionally upsetting. Then there is the financial impact, which can include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.

You have the right to seek financial compensation for the damages you suffered in a car accident. But the process of recovering that compensation can be complicated. Here is a look at how car accident compensation works in New York and the problems that injured victims can face along the way.

All drivers are required to carry car insurance in New York.

Drivers are also required to carry proof that they have a valid insurance policy. There are minimum liability requirements these policies must carry:

  • $50,000 per person PIP (personal injury protection, also known as no-fault insurance)
  • $25,000 liability coverage per person for bodily injury
  • $50,000 liability coverage total per accident for bodily injury
  • $10,000 per occurrence property damage liability coverage
  • $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

Drivers can choose to purchase coverage with higher liability limits. This is recommended for most people, as damages from a serious car accident can easily exceed the minimum amounts. It’s a good idea to review your own policy to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage.  You also have the ability to purchase additional underinsured coverage that may supplement your compensation if you have injuries that exceed the monetary value of the bodily insurance of the vehicle that hit you.

New York is a “no-fault” state.

That means that if you’ve been involved in an accident, you must first file a claim for damages with your own insurance company. This is known as a first-party claim. Drivers and passengers can file a no-fault claim with the insurance company covering the vehicle they were in at the time of the crash. Pedestrians and bicyclists can file a claim with the insurance company covering the vehicle that hit them; if that vehicle doesn’t have insurance, they can file a no-fault claim with their own car insurance or a household family member’s insurance. In scenarios where there is no other available insurance (for instance, a pedestrian who doesn’t own a car is struck by an uninsured vehicle), no-fault benefits are provided by the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).  A first-party insurance claim needs to be opened within 30 days from the date of the accident.

Note that this does not apply to motorcycle accidents. If you were on a motorcycle, either as an operator or a passenger, you don’t get no-fault benefits. (Pedestrians hit by motorcycles do still get no-fault benefits.) The tradeoff is that there is no serious injury requirement to file a third-party claim or lawsuit (as explained below).

Legal action may be necessary to recover the compensation you deserve.

If you suffered a serious injury in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you can file a third-party claim with that driver’s insurance company. But a lawsuit may be necessary to recover the car accident compensation you deserve. In New York, a “serious injury” is defined as:

  • An injury that results in death.
  • An injury that results in dismemberment.
  • An injury that results in significant disfigurement.
  • Broken bones.
  • The loss of a fetus.
  • An injury resulting in the permanent loss of use of an organ, member, function, or system of the body.
  • An injury resulting in a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member.
  • A non-permanent injury that prevented you from performing your usual daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days following the accident.

Again, if you were on a motorcycle, the serious injury standard does not apply. Because you aren’t covered by no-fault, you are always free to file a third-party claim or lawsuit.

The statute of limitations (legal time limit) in New York for taking legal action against another party after a car accident is three years from the date of the crash. While that sounds like a long time, waiting too long can hurt your case. Over time, evidence important to your case can be lost or destroyed, and witnesses may forget key details.

The value of your claim depends on many factors.

These factors include the seriousness of your injuries and the impact they have had on your life. It can also take time before it is clear how much you have been affected by injury. For example, minor back pain you suffered in a crash may turn out to be a more serious problem that eventually requires surgery. The time you spend in recovery is time you are unable to work, resulting in a loss of income.

You are entitled to compensation for all of the damages you suffered in an accident. These may include:

  • All current and future medical expenses related to the injuries you suffered: surgery, hospital stays, ambulance fees, medication, physical therapy, and follow-up visits with doctors.
  • Lost wages for the time you were unable to work because of injury.
  • Lost future income if you are unable to return to work or need to work reduced hours long-term.
  • Expenses for home maintenance, childcare, and other services you were unable to perform because of your injury.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Mental anguish.
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium, a term for damage to family or intimate relationships because of injury.
  • Property damage.

An experienced car accident attorney can review the details of your accident and determine the actual damages you suffered.

Insurance companies will typically challenge your claim for compensation.

Yes, this includes your own insurance company. They may question the seriousness of your injuries or the need for certain treatment. If you are filing a third-party claim, the other party’s insurance company may deny liability and argue that you caused the accident. They may offer you a settlement that falls far short of covering the damages you suffered.

Insurance companies have adjusters and attorneys who are very skilled at finding ways to reduce the compensation of claimants. They know that most people don’t understand the intricacies of insurance policies and the law and will use that to their advantage.

It is in your best interests to get legal advice when seeking financial compensation.

You are not required to have an attorney when dealing with insurance companies after a car accident. But an experienced car accident lawyer will be familiar with the process of recovering financial compensation. An attorney can review the details of your accident, explain your legal options for recovering compensation and advise you on what to expect as you move forward. You can also get answers to any questions you have about your claim.

There are many advantages to hiring an attorney to represent you. An attorney will have the resources to investigate your accident to gather important evidence, carefully review accident reports and other documentation, and interview witnesses. Your attorney can also deal directly with the insurance company and negotiate on your behalf.

Car accident lawyers typically offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. That means you owe them nothing unless they recover financial compensation for you. If you’ve been injured in a crash, talk to an experienced New York car accident attorney today.

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Based in the Bronx, Giampa Law handles personal injury claims in New York. Our top-notch legal team has extensive experience negotiating sizable settlements and fighting for maxim...