11 Feb 2022

By Boris Tadchiev

In Car Accident

As you see medical bills pile up after a car accident, your first thought maybe that the driver who caused the accident should be responsible for the bills. But New York insurance law makes every car owner responsible for their own initial medical costs after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault.

Automobile owners in New York are required to have a Personal Injury Protection policy to cover their initial medical bills and those of their passengers after a crash.

If your medical bills exceed the limits of the no-fault insurance policy and another driver was at fault, you should consult an experienced Queens personal injury lawyer. A car accident attorney at The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., may be able to help you file an injury claim against the at-fault driver and seek additional compensation for your accident expenses.

Contact The Tadchiev Law Firm for a free consultation.

Your NY No-Fault Auto Insurance Coverage

New York requires car owners to have three types of automotive insurance:

  • No-Fault (Personal Injury Protection, or PIP), which pays the policyholder after an accident
  • Liability, which pays other individuals injured in an accident caused by the policyholder
  • Uninsured Motorists, which pays the policyholder if he or she is injured by an uninsured driver

The no-fault insurance system is meant to get money into the hands of accident victims faster while reducing the number of car accident cases that go to court.

After an accident, anyone injured first files a claim with their own PIP coverage to pay their medical bills. New York car owners must purchase at least $50,000 worth of no-fault coverage. The PIP policy pays medical expenses, lost earnings, and other reasonable incidental expenses, such as household help during recovery from injuries or transportation to doctor appointments.

The PIP policy covers the driver and any passengers in the car, and any pedestrians hit by the insured vehicle. It pays automatically, with no need to establish fault.

This may cause you to ask why you are required to maintain auto liability insurance – coverage that pays others who you may harm in a crash – if they are covered by no-fault insurance just as you are.

You must maintain auto liability insurance in New York because the state recognizes that medical bills after a serious accident can quickly deplete $50,000 worth of PIP insurance. If you have used up your no-fault insurance and someone else is at fault for your injuries, you may seek compensation through a claim against their liability insurance.

Auto Liability Insurance Claims in New York

After you have paid your car accident medical bills up to the limit of your PIP coverage, you may have a right to sue another driver if their negligence caused the accident and you suffered a serious injury in the accident.

New York insurance law (Section 5102(d)) describes the conditions that meet the definition of a serious injury. They include:

  • A fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Dismemberment (amputation of a limb)
  • Permanent loss or significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Death
  • Disability for 90 days during the first 180 days following the accident

If you can demonstrate the other driver was at fault, you may file a claim to demand compensation to pay medical bills and for vehicle damage.

Car owners in New York must maintain liability coverage that provides at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury, or $50,000 for any injury resulting in death, sustained by any one person in an accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury sustained by two or more persons in any one accident, or $100,000 for any injuries resulting in death sustained by two or more persons in any one accident
  • $10,000 for vehicle property damage per accident.

If the at-fault car owner does not have liability insurance, you would turn to your uninsured motorists (UM) coverage, which mirrors New York’s 25/50/10 liability insurance minimums. The Insurance Information Institute says 4.1% of New York motorists have no auto insurance.

Medical Payments Car Insurance Coverage

Assuming minimum coverage, a driver in New York has a total of $75,000 worth of insurance coverage potentially available to pay medical bills after a car accident. That includes payment from their no-fault / PIP insurance and a successful claim that recovers the full $25,000 available from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance for bodily injury.

In a catastrophic car accident – that causes a permanent disability, such as paralysis, or other serious injuries that leave the victim with lasting daily consequences – $75,000 will certainly not make the accident victim financially whole.

One way to guard against this possibility is to purchase additional coverage.

In addition to increasing PIP coverage, Medical Payment Coverage, or “Med Pay,” is optional auto insurance in New York. It pays $5,000 to $10,000 per person for medical, dental, and funeral expenses for the insured driver and passengers after an accident, regardless of fault. Med Pay also covers injuries suffered by pedestrians or bicyclists hit by a car, or that a covered individual suffers while taking public transportation.

Med Pay can only be accessed after exhausting PIP coverage.

How Medical Bills Are Paid After a Car Accident

To review, if you are injured in a car accident in New York, to pay your medical bills you would rely on:

  • Your no-fault auto insurance (mandatory)
  • Your Med Pay coverage (optional; available after PIP is exhausted)
  • The at-fault driver’s liability coverage (available by demonstrating serious injury in a lawsuit after your no-fault insurance is exhausted)
  • Your uninsured motorist coverage (available if the at-fault driver has no liability insurance after PIP is exhausted)

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Queens for Help

New York’s approach to auto insurance coverage can be confusing.

At The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., we are committed to helping people who have been injured in car accidents in Queens, NY, seek all the compensation available to them. If you have suffered serious injuries, we can develop a solid claim against an at-fault driver and/or third parties who may be subject to a personal injury lawsuit.

Our Queens car accident attorneys will work to maximize your compensation after a serious accident. Trust the car accident attorneys of The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., to help you. Contact us today to set up your free case review.