28 Feb 2024

By Boris Tadchiev

In Car Accident

Being injured in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. Taking the right steps afterward is crucial to ensure your safety and protect your right to compensation for your losses. One of those steps is understanding New York State car accident laws.

The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., has helped car accident victims throughout Queens, N.Y., recover the compensation they deserve for medical bills, lost income, and other losses suffered after car crashes. No matter what kind of injuries you have suffered, our mission is to tirelessly advocate for your financial recovery. We will negotiate aggressively with insurance companies to maximize the compensation you receive.

Trust the Queens car accident attorneys of The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., to help you in negotiations or at trial. Contact us today at (718) 606-4931 or online to set up your free case review.

Is New York a No-Fault Car Insurance State?

New York is a no-fault car insurance state. This means car owners must maintain auto insurance that will pay for their medical expenses, lost earnings, and other reasonable and necessary expenses, such as household help and transportation to doctor appointments.

No-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection (PIP), is designed to pay those involved in the auto accident promptly, regardless of who is at fault or whether any party involved in the crash was negligent.

Car owners must maintain coverage that pays at the minimum up to $50,000 per person, to the driver, family members who reside in their household, and any passengers injured in the covered vehicle, as well as any pedestrians injured by the vehicle. This minimum coverage is called “basic no-fault coverage.”

Unfortunately, $50,000 does not go far if someone suffers serious injuries in a car accident. So, New York law also requires car owners to maintain auto liability insurance with coverage of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons
  • $10,000 for property damage in any one accident

Liability coverage protects the policyholder if they or another driver with permission to drive the covered car causes a car accident. The coverage ensures payments to the injured if the accident resulted in someone else’s serious injury as defined by NY auto insurance law or damage to their property (usually their vehicle).

To qualify as serious under New York law, injuries suffered in a car accident must cause:

  • Bone fracture
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Substantially full disability for 90 days
  • Death

If you have suffered any of these conditions and the other driver caused the car accident, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance.

Comparative Negligence in New York Car Accident Cases

You should be able to recover an insurance payment if another driver’s negligence was the direct cause of the car accident that left you seriously injured. But, under New York State’s comparative negligence system, a car accident victim may still have the right to pursue compensation even if they are partly to blame for the collision.

Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. This includes failure to follow traffic laws, such as speeding, failure to yield the right of way, driving while impaired, etc.

But New York law also makes the state a “pure comparative fault” state. This means if a car accident claim is settled at trial, the compensation (or “damages”) the injured person may recover will be apportioned according to how much fault each party bears for the accident.

At the conclusion of the trial, if the jury determines that damages should be awarded, it must determine an amount and then decide how much each party in the case contributed to the accident. Everyone is assigned a percentage, and the injured party’s damages are reduced according to their contributory negligence, or the blame they are assigned for the accident.

For example, if the injured party in a car accident is found to be 25% at fault for the crash because they were speeding, a $100,000 jury award would be reduced to $75,000. The pure comparative fault doctrine allows the injured party to be as much as 99% at fault and still recover damages, which would provide them $1,000 after winning a $100,000 award.

Mandatory Uninsured Motorists Coverage

The third portion of mandatory auto insurance coverage in New York is uninsured motorist coverage. This “UM” coverage provides bodily injury protection to the car owner, family members who reside in their household, and any occupants of the covered vehicle car if they are injured as the result of negligent actions by an uninsured vehicle or an unidentified hit-and-run motorist.

At a minimum, UM coverage applies to New York accidents in the amount equal to the minimum requirements of liability insurance (25/50/10). For a small additional charge, UM coverage can be extended to provide the same coverage for out-of-state accidents.

What Compensation Can I Get After a Car Accident?

After a car accident in New York, you should notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. You should also see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident, not only to get the care you need but to document your injuries with a medical exam.

Your PIP coverage should pay you up to $50,000 for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Incidental expenses necessitated by your injuries.

If your injuries are serious as described by NY law and caused by someone else, you may seek compensation through the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance for:

  • Medical expenses not paid by PIP
  • Lost income not replaced by PIP
  • Property damage.

In most cases, the compensation you can recover would be limited by the amount of liability coverage the at-fault driver held, which would likely be the $25,000/$50,000 bodily injury and $10,000 property damage minimum.

Suppose your insurance claim is disputed and you must pursue a personal injury lawsuit, in addition to the damages above. In that case, you may also seek damages for the pain and suffering that you endured because of your injuries. Pain and suffering encompasses the physical pain, emotional anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma that accompany a serious injury.

In New York, the term “pain and suffering” also includes the loss of enjoyment of life. Damages for the loss of enjoyment of life compensate for the frustration and anguish the individual suffers due to their inability to participate in activities that once brought them pleasure.

In a lawsuit, your attorney from The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., would first try to negotiate a settlement, a figure the at-fault driver’s insurance company has agreed to pay and that you, our client, have found acceptable. A negotiated settlement is possible any time before the jury returns a verdict. If the lawsuit proceeds to the point at which the jury renders a verdict, the jury will state what damages it awards, if any.

Your ability to collect an award won in a lawsuit will likely depend on the defendant’s liability insurance coverage. However, a defendant may have additional insurance and/or other assets subject to attachment and seizure to settle a jury award.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

New York’s statute of limitations typically allows the injured party up to three years from the date of a car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. You normally have two years from the date of a loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

But three years can pass quickly between:

  • The time it takes to exhaust your PIP coverage;
  • The time needed for you to recover so we know the full extent of your damages; and
  • Delays insurance companies can cause.

That’s why it is always best to speak to a car accident lawyer from The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., promptly after being injured in a crash. By doing so, we can start the work required to build a strong claim immediately.

Reporting a Car Accident in New York

If you are in a car accident that causes personal injury or death, you must report it to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. You must also report any crash that involves $1,000 or more in property damage. To do so, fill out and file the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104).

If someone is injured or killed in a car accident, you are required to immediately notify the police and file the MV-104. Note that it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident that causes personal injury or death.

If the accident causes property damage only, you are to exchange your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number with the other driver and file the MV-104.

If a crash damages a parked vehicle or other property, or injures a domestic animal, you are to locate the owner or contact the police.

Get in Touch with Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers

The Queens car accident attorneys of The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., can investigate your car accident and help you pursue the maximum compensation available by law. We are aggressive advocates for auto accident victims in Queens and are here to help you. Best of all, we will never charge any fees unless we recover money for you, so you have nothing to lose by getting started.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation about your car accident claim.