If you were involved in a car accident and you believe you might be at fault, do not panic. New York’s auto insurance system is set up to mitigate the risk of anyone going bankrupt because of a crash. Below, we discuss what happens after a car crash and how liability is determined if you were at fault for the crash. If you were hurt in an auto crash in New York, call a knowledgeable Bronx car accident attorney at the Kohn Law Firm for advice and assistance.
No-Fault Insurance: To Each Their Own
In New York, all drivers are required to maintain minimum levels of car insurance coverage. Unlike most states, New York maintains a “no-fault” insurance scheme for traffic accidents. After a car accident, rather than filing a claim against an at-fault driver, each person injured in the crash files a claim with their own auto insurance provider under their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
The no-fault scheme means that, in most cases, you’ll file your medical claims with your insurance provider. Any other drivers involved in the accident will file claims with their insurers. It doesn’t matter who was actually at fault. Injured motorists can only file a claim against you if they suffered a serious injury.
No-fault insurance covers the cost of medical care, a portion of lost wages, and other expenses related to medical care such as medical equipment or transportation to and from medical appointments.
Your Passengers Are Covered by Your Insurance
If any passengers in your car were hurt in your accident, they’ll file a no-fault claim under your insurance policy. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you were at fault. If you are family members, you might be covered under the same policy anyway.
Passengers in other cars will file claims with their driver’s insurer, so long as they did not suffer serious injury. If other passengers suffered a serious injury, they could file a claim against you directly, just like other drivers.
Pedestrians and No-Fault
Pedestrians are also bound by the no-fault rules. If the pedestrian has an auto insurance policy in New York, they will file a claim under their PIP coverage. If the pedestrian doesn’t have a car but they live with a family member who does, they’ll file a claim under that driver’s no-fault PIP coverage. If they don’t have a car and they don’t live with anyone who does, then they can file a claim under your PIP policy.
What if Someone Was Seriously Injured?
If anyone was seriously injured in the accident, then they have grounds to bring a proper liability claim against you for their damages. They’ll need to prove they satisfy the legal definition of “serious injury,” and that you were actually at fault for the accident (i.e., you were negligent and caused the crash).
Your auto insurance policy also includes liability coverage. The minimum coverage in New York is $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 per accident. You may have (and we strongly advise everyone to carry) more liability coverage.
If you are at fault for an accident and an injured party has grounds to bring a claim against you, your insurance company will coordinate with you to settle or defend against the claims. Ideally, your liability will fall within the policy coverage limits and your insurance will simply handle it. If your liability exceeds your policy limits, you might ultimately have to defend yourself in a lawsuit.
Call a Seasoned Bronx Car Crash Injury Attorney Today
If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a New York traffic accident, find out if you’re entitled to monetary damages for your injuries by contacting the diligent and dedicated New York car accident lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a free consultation at 718-409-1200.