Is New York a No-Fault State?
Like every other state, all drivers in New York are required to carry auto insurance that will protect them in the event of an accident. Unlike the majority of states, however, New York follows no-fault auto insurance laws. The law is beneficial for motorists, as it allows them to recover damages quite quickly after an accident. However, it also places limitations on the amount of damages that can be recovered after a crash—and the law can quickly become complex. The basics of New York’s no-fault laws are found below, but it is important to speak to a lawyer who can advise on your claim after an auto accident.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements Under No-Fault Law
All motorists in New York must carry a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to drive a vehicle. These limits are as follows:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person in the event the driver causes an accident,
- $50,000 total liability coverage for bodily injury per accident, regardless of how many people are hurt,
- $10,000 liability coverage for property damage for any accident the driver causes, and
- $50,000 in PIP or no-fault coverage
There are serious consequences for those who operate a vehicle in the state and don’t carry insurance.
What is the No-Fault Law in New York?
Under New York’s no-fault auto insurance law, you must file a claim with your own insurance company after a crash. Specifically, you will file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) or medical benefits coverage. This coverage will pay for the cost of medical treatment and other out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result of the accident. No-fault insurance does not provide damages for pain and suffering or any other non-economic losses. No-fault insurance coverage will compensate anyone who is covered under the policy without regards to fault or who caused the accident.
It is disconcerting for many people to learn that their PIP coverage only provides up to a certain amount of compensation, particularly if the policy limits are not enough to fully cover the cost of injuries. However, in certain situations, you may be able to step outside of the no-fault system. If your injuries exceed New York’s serious injury threshold, you can file a third party claim against the negligent driver who caused the accident. Through a third-party claim, you can pursue additional medical costs and economic damages not covered by your policy’s limits. Unlike PIP coverage though, you can also claim non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and permanent disfigurement.
Defining a Serious Injury Under New York Law
Any injury can seem serious enough to warrant a personal injury claim against the negligent driver, but New York law is very specific in defining what qualifies as a serious injury. To qualify as a serious injury that meets the threshold, you must have suffered one of the following:
- Broken bones
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation in the function of a bodily organ or system
- Significantly full disability for a minimum of 90 days
If your injury falls into any of the above categories, and a negligent driver caused your injuries, you are not limited to the coverage provided in your own no-fault insurance policy. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and hold them liable for paying damages.
Proving a Third-Party Claim
When filing a claim against a third party, such as another driver, you are stepping outside of the no-fault system, so you must prove the other driver acted negligently. To do this, you must show:
- The defendant, or at-fault party, owed you a duty of care to act in a reasonable and safe manner
- The defendant breached that duty, or acted negligently
- The other party’s negligent actions caused the accident
- The accident resulted in injuries and other damages
Proving the above elements of a claim is rarely easy. A thorough investigation must be conducted to determine which party was at fault for the crash, and evidence must be collected to prove your claim. While it is always recommended that you work with a New York car accident lawyer after being in an accident that caused serious injuries, it becomes even more important when you are filing a claim with another driver’s insurance company.
Motorcyclists & New York’s No-Fault Laws
The no-fault auto insurance laws in New York apply to all cars and trucks on the roads. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are not protected by the no-fault laws of the state because these are not considered vehicles under the state law. Motorcyclists sustain some of the most serious injuries when they are involved in an accident, but their insurance carrier has no legal obligation to pay for their medical bills or lost wages. Motorcyclists are often shocked by this and wonder how they will handle the devastating consequences after a crash.
Injured motorcyclists who do not have health insurance will have to pay the cost of medical treatment out of their own pocket, and those costs can be extraordinary. Even when a motorcyclist has private health insurance, the policy’s limits may not be enough to fully cover the costs. Sometimes, the best and only way a motorcyclist can recover compensation for the financial cost of an accident is to file a third-party claim against the negligent party. When filing this claim, motorcyclists will have to prove the other party was at fault in order to recover full damages.
Our Car Accident Lawyers in New York Can Help with Your Claim
The aftermath of a car accident is complex, and the no-fault laws of the state can make things seem even more complicated. If you have been hurt, our New York car accident lawyers at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. can advise on your case. We know the law and we use it to help you recover the maximum damages you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.