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Passengers, Pedestrians and No Fault Benefits in New York

Motor vehicle passengers injured in car accidents in New York can usually expect to have no fault benefits paid by the vehicle's insurer.  Unfortunately, there are exceptions as we discuss here in Part III of our series on New York no fault benefits.

Bus Passengers

You are riding on the Bee line bus in Westchester County or maybe a city bus in New York, Syracuse or Buffalo or are an occupant of a school bus and are injured in a bus accident.  Think that the city or county's insurer is going to pay your medical bills or lost wages?  Think again.

What Happens If I am injured while riding a bus or a school bus?

This is one of the exceptions to the general rule that you look to the host vehicle for payment of no fault benefits following a car accident. You must first look to

1) your own auto insurer if you own a car, or if none,
2) the auto insurer for any vehicle owned by a relative with whom you reside

What if I am injured on a bus and I don't own a car?

You can only file an application for no fault benefits with the insurer for the school bus or bus if you do not own a motor vehicle or live with a relative in New York who owns a motor vehicle. Only in this situation can you seek no fault benefits from the insurer of the bus if you are not an owner, operator or employee of an owner or operator of the bus.

What if I am an owner, operator or employee?

You are eligible for no fault benefits from the bus company's insurer regardless of whether you own a car or reside with a relative who does.

Motorcycles

Motorcycle drivers and passengers are out of luck if they are injured in an accident as no fault benefits are not provided to motorcyclists.  Some motorcycle insurance policies have what is known as med-pay coverage which is limite in scope, but will cover some of the medical bills if applicable.

Pedestrians injured by motor vehicles

All too frequently we hear about people struck by a motor vehicle while crossing the street or even walking on the sidewalk.  Where do pedestrians get no fault benefits from?

The at fault vehicle must furnish no fault benefits.  It doesn't matter if the offending vehicle is a school bus, motorcycle or tow truck.  As long as the vehicle in question falls within the definition of motor vehicle, that vehicle's insurer is on the hook for no fault benefits.

Hit and Run accidents

Sometimes the driver of the at fault vehicle has no regard for the law and drives away after knocking down a pedestrian without concern for the injured pedestrian's health.  If the pedestrian cannot identify the vehicle, it is of critical importance that the police are notified of the incident immediately and a report filed within 24 hours of the incident

Who pays no fault benefits in an hit and run accident?

1) your own auto insurer if you own a car, or if none,
2) the auto insurer for any vehicle owned by a relative with whom you reside

3) if you live in New York and neither own nor reside with a relative who owns a motor vehicle, then you need to seek benefits from the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation - MVAIC Note that there time sensitive deadlines for seeking benefits from MVAIC so having an attorney involved at the outset of the claim is very important.

What happens if I am injured while "on the job"?

It gets a bit complicated.  Assuming that you are occupying a car while in the course of your employment and have the misfortune of being involved in a car wreck you must:

1.  Notify your employer of the incident immediately.

2.  File an application for worker's compensation benefits with your employer's worker's compensation carrier. You will receive worker's compensation benefits in lieu of no fault benefits.

3.  Report the accident to the insurer for the vehicle that you were occupying.  You may be eligible for payment by the no fault carrier of the difference in lost wages that are paid by worker's compensation.

Worker's compensation benefits paid in lieu of no fault benefits up to the $50,000 threshold are not subject to the customary worker's compensation lien against the proceeds of any personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, permission to settle the claim or lawsuit must still be obtained from the worker's compensation carrier before a case can be settled.  

When is an injured person NOT eligible to receive no fault benefits?

If you were injured as a result of any of the examples below...

Driving a motor vehicle while drugged or intoxicated; Riding a motorcycle; or Riding a Snowmobile; or

any person while:
(1) committing an act which would constitute a felony, or seeking to avoid lawful apprehension or arrest by a law enforcement officer;
(2) operating a motor vehicle in a race or speed test;
(3) operating or occupying a motor vehicle known to that person to be stolen;  or
(4) repairing, servicing or otherwise maintaining a motor vehicle if the conduct is within the course of a business of repairing, servicing or otherwise maintaining a motor vehicle and the injury occurs on the business premises;

Let's hope that you or anyone that you care about never falls into of these exceptions.

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