New York’s fault system for car accidents is unlike many other states. In many states, if you are injured in a car crash, you can sue the at-fault driver and/or their insurance company to recover for your property damage, medical bills, wages lost due to time away from work, etc. In New York, there is a set process you must first entertain involving your own insurance before you can consider suing another party. The process can be complex and can leave you unsure if you will fully recover for the harm you suffered after an accident. Read on for an explanation of New York’s personal injury protection insurance system in traffic accidents, and contact a seasoned and effective Bronx car accident lawyer for help after a New York traffic accident.
New York’s no-fault insurance system
Under New York’s no-fault system, after a traffic accident, you will rely on your insurance coverage to recover damages, regardless of who caused the accident. You will not file a claim with the other party’s insurance or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover unless you have legal grounds to get out of the no-fault system. Instead, you will file a no-fault claim with your own insurance company. If you were injured, your claim would include a claim for personal injury protection (PIP). How much you can recover will depend on your insurance coverage.
What is PIP?
In New York, drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of PIP insurance coverage. PIP is a form of medical expense coverage that is included as part of an auto insurance policy, and your coverage will trigger in the event of an accident. New York drivers must carry at least $50,000 per person in PIP. You can choose to pay a higher premium and increase your coverage amount; the amount you purchase will be the maximum you are entitled to recover when making a PIP claim.
What does PIP cover?
PIP covers medical costs, economic losses (lost wages, medical bills and other economic harm directly caused by the accident), and death benefits resulting from a car crash. Each driver’s PIP covers their own damages. Your PIP insurance covers you, members of your household, passengers in your car, and pedestrians injured by your driving. PIP does not cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Your PIP covers only your personal injury expenses, not damage to your car, to someone else’s car, or to any other property damaged in a crash. Basic PIP coverage includes: 80 percent of lost earnings from work, up to a maximum $2,000/month, for up to three years after the accident; a $2,000 death benefit payable to the estate of the deceased; and up to $25 a day for other reasonable expenses for up to a year.
Getting out of No-Fault
If your injury costs exceed your insurance coverage, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party for additional damages. To trigger a fault claim, you must have suffered a “serious injury.” Serious injury includes death, dismemberment, disfigurement, loss of a fetus, permanent or significant limitation on the use of a limb or other bodily organ or function, or significant disability for at least 90 days in the first 180 days following the accident. You can sue for additional economic damages as well as non-economic harm such as pain and suffering.
PIP is not always available
You must follow all policies and procedures properly to secure your PIP coverage. You must, for example, file your claims within the appropriate deadlines (e.g., submitting proof of medical costs to the insurance company within 45 days of starting treatment and submitting proof of lost wages within 90 days). Missing deadlines means missing out on full coverage.
Additionally, your insurance policy may exclude coverage under certain circumstances. It is important to review your policy to know your exclusions. Many policies will not cover an individual who, for example:
- Was intoxicated while driving at the time of the accident
- Was committing a felony at the time of the accident, such as fleeing the police
- Intentionally caused the accident or injury
- Was driving a stolen car
- Was racing or conducting a speed test of the vehicle
Car Crash in The Bronx? The Kohn Law Firm Can Help
If you or someone you love has been hurt by someone else’s negligence in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the knowledgeable and passionate personal injury lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a free consultation at 718-409-1200.