Being injured in an accident because someone else sped or drove recklessly can be traumatic–and expensive. Depending on the severity of the injuries, there may be considerable out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages from being unable to work. Here’s what you need to know about how to manage those expenses.
What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage?
New York is one of only 12 U.S. states requiring insurers to provide no-fault insurance. That means vehicle owners must carry personal injury protection coverage as part of their auto insurance.
When there is an accident that causes injury, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, the injured person will turn to their insurance first to recover medical damages.
- $10,000 property damage for a single accident
- $25,000 bodily injury/$50,000 death for a person involved in an accident
- $50,000 bodily injury/$100,000 for the death of two or more people in an accident
Some injuries are covered under the minimum PIP coverage. However, with more significant injuries, medical costs alone could exceed that coverage, not to mention related items such as transportation to medical appointments and lost wages due to time away from work. Vehicle owners can and should register for higher levels of coverage (at a higher premium cost).
What if My Medical Costs Exceed My PIP Coverage?
Suppose someone is severely injured in a car accident, which was the other driver’s fault. In that case, the injured party can pursue a civil lawsuit to recover the damages not covered by their insurance. In many cases, just having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side reaching out to the liable party and their insurance can lead to negotiations that could result in a settlement without having to go to court. That would be a simpler, less costly outcome. However, life teaches us that things seldom go easily or smoothly.
If the case goes to court, it is important to understand that New York law applies what is known as pure comparative negligence. That means if the injured person is determined to be even partly at fault for the accident, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault determined to have been theirs. For example, if someone was driving drunk and hit another driver who ran a red light and injured them, the injured party may be found 30% at fault for the accident because they ran the red light even though the drunk driver broke the law and was found to be 70% at fault. If the jury awards $200,000, they will receive $140,000 instead–the full award minus 30%.
The good news is that in New York, the injured person can be 99% at fault and still receive 1% of the damages, unlike in some states where they might not receive anything at that point. However, that also means that the other party involved in the accident will want to shift as much blame as possible onto the injured person to avoid paying out much, if any, financial damages.
Whether this type of case goes through settlement negotiations or must be placed into suit in the New York State Court system, it is vital to have an experienced personal injury attorney working on your case. They understand the nuances of the law and what tactics the other side may engage in to try and reduce their portion of liability. Remember, even in what would look to be a straight forward case, the insurance company for the wrongdoer will work hard against you to pay as little as the company can get away with. That is why you need a personal injury lawyer on your side.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time fixed by law to pursue legal action to remedy a wrong. It is a deadline that cannot be missed without giving up your rights to pursue a claim. As a general rule, once that deadline has expired, you will no longer be able to pursue a claim no matter how strong the merits, no matter how terrible the damages were incurred. So, for example, a person claiming to have been injured due to the actions of a doctor or hospital staff in New York has two years and six months from the date of the malpractice to start a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In New York State, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit is three years from the accident date. However, that deadline is strictly for an accident involving individuals who were injured. There are two significant exceptions to the three-year rule.
- Municipalities. If the lawsuit involves municipalities such as a city, county, or school district, the injured person has only 90 days from the date of the accident to file a Notice of Claim against the municipality. This is a mandatory preliminary step that must be done before a lawsuit can be filed. The lawsuit itself must be filed within one year and 90 days from the accident date. The rules are also different when the State of New York is a defendant.
- Wrongful death. If someone was killed in the accident, the statute of limitations to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the accident date. There is a different time limit if someone was killed as a result of a criminal act and the person responsible for committing the crime is being prosecuted for the crime.
What Should I Do if I Was Injured in a Car Accident in New York?
If you are able, check on the health of everyone involved, even the other driver and passengers. Take out your cell phone and call 911 immediately. If your condition permits, take photos and video of the scene and each car involved before they are moved. If possible, obtain the names and contact info of others involved in the accident and any eyewitnesses to the crash. Also see if there are any businesses or homes with cameras facing the road where the crash occurred. Security cameras may have recorded the crash and can provide crucial evidence to prove who was at fault.
The police will come to the scene. Show the police officer any video that you recorded from the crash from a dashcam or other device which captured the moments before and during the crash.
Then, seek a doctor immediately, even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured. Consider going to an urgent care instead of an emergency room if you are not sure of the extent of any injury that you sustained. Some injuries don’t show symptoms or only minor ones at first. If they’re not treated, they can worsen to the point of being dangerous.
Then call Greenspan & Greenspan Injury Lawyers at 914-946-2500 for a free initial consultation with one of our White Plains, NY, car accident attorneys. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable car accident lawyers can help walk through your case and determine the best approach going forward to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Along with what you should do, there’s something to avoid doing: Communicating with the other party’s investigator, claims adjuster or insurance representative. Do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company or investigator until you have consulted with one of our lawyers. The insurance company will not be on your side and will try to take advantage of the stress, pain and fear that you are experiencing as a result of the crash. Another tactic that insurance companies try is to get you to sign a settlement agreement to resolve your claim, but for an amount of money much lower than you could potentially receive. Don’t respond to any communications from the other vehicle’s insurance company until you have obtained legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.