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New York’s No-Fault Accident Law May Affect your Right to Recover after a Car Accident

The days and weeks following a car accident can be stressful, especially when the bills start piling up. Drivers recovering from an accident may incur costs for the repair or replacement of their vehicle, lost wages for missed work, or medical and hospital bills. Most people assume that any major bills will be covered by their car insurance; however, many New Yorkers do not realize that the state of New York limits how much a person involved in an accident may recover from his or her insurance.  

What is No-Fault Insurance? 

Under New York law, every driver must carry no-fault auto insurance, which covers a driver for up to $50,000 worth of damages after an accident. This money is meant to cover lost wages, hospital and medical bills, and repairs for damaged property or vehicles. It does not compensate a person for any pain or suffering as a result of the accident. 

In comparison to many other states, a driver who has been in an accident must recover from his or her own insurance policy, rather than the insurance policy of the other driver. As the name suggests, it does not matter which driver was at fault. Each party’s own insurance will cover the damages of that person, up to a maximum recovery of $50,000. 

The no-fault law was enacted for several reasons. First, the law protects drivers who are in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Second, the statute ensures that car accident insurance claims are paid out quickly and efficiently. Under the no-fault system, a driver who was in a car accident does not have to wait for the insurance companies to determine who was at fault and how much should be paid out—instead, each driver’s claims are addressed through his or her own policy. Finally, the no-fault law also works as a means to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Parties with minor injuries can no longer attempt to sue for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for pain and suffering without proving a serious injury.  

What If I Have More than $50,000 in Damages? 

While the no-fault system does have some advantages, White Plains personal injury attorneys realize that the law creates major hurdles for drivers who need more than $50,000 in compensation for their injuries.  For people who have been seriously injured in a car accident, the no-fault statute still allows lawsuits against the other party in order to recover damages for their pain and suffering.  

The statute defines a serious injury as one which results in death, dismemberment, disfigurement, broken bones, loss of function in an organ or organ system, or an injury which prevents a person from performing his or her daily functions for a significant period of time. While some injuries are obviously categorized as “serious” under the law, others may require additional proof in the form of medical evaluations or expert opinions.  A White Plains personal injury attorney can help you determine if your car accident injury is serious enough to warrant a lawsuit for damages for pain and suffering. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact a White Plains personal injury attorney like Lynch Schwab, PLLC, as soon as possible.  Our attorneys understand that your injuries are serious, and our firm is dedicated to ensuring that you recover everything to which you are entitled.  To schedule a free initial consultation, call Lynch Schwab today at (914) 304-4353.


Posted on March 26, 2014 in Personal Injury