If you have been injured in a car accident in New York, one thing that can help ease your stress is gaining an understanding of New York’s car accident laws. When you know what you need to do and what to expect, you can worry less. Below, the New York car accident attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP explain some of New York’s car accident laws and how they might apply to your own case.
Should you have questions about car accident laws in New York or want to speak to a lawyer about your potential claims, you can reach our office by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER or by filling out the contact form on our website. Our skilled attorneys offer same-day case consultations, and we are always available to provide you with the answers you need.
New York’s No-Fault Law
One of the first laws you need to understand in the event of a car accident is the state’s No-Fault Law. The law is housed in Article 51 of New York Insurance Law.
Under the No-Fault Law, car accident victims are entitled to “first party benefits” from their own vehicle insurance carriers. Regardless of who was at fault in causing the car accident, injured persons must submit claims to their own insurance companies in order to collect benefits related to their accidents. According to Section 5102(b) of the Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Insurance Reparations Act, “first party benefits” means “payments to reimburse a person for basic economic loss on account of personal injury arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle.”
What is Basic Economic Loss?
“Basic economic loss,” under Section 5102(a) of the Act includes a combination of the following:
- Necessary expenses incurred for medical, hospital, surgical, nursing, dental, ambulance, x-ray, prescription drug and prosthetic services;
- Necessary expenses incurred for psychiatric services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation;
- Necessary expenses incurred for any non-medical remedial care and treatment rendered in accordance with a religious method of healing recognized by the laws of New York;
- Loss of earnings from work which the person would have performed had he/she not been injured and reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by such person in obtaining services in lieu of those that he/she would have performed for income; and
- All other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred.
In other words, anyone injured in a car accident in New York (no matter who caused the accident) will submit a claim through his or her own insurance carrier for reimbursement of medical expenses and lost wages associated with the accident. The No-Fault Law requires people to use this insurance procedure for reimbursement, and the law caps possible recovery at $50,000. You can recover only up to $50,000 and can recover only economic losses, like those listed above. You cannot recover for pain and suffering under the law, as these are considered “non-economic losses.”
How Do You Recover for Pain and Suffering?
In order to recover for your pain and suffering and any other non-monetary damages, you have to meet the “serious injury” threshold in the No-Fault Law. Section 5102(d) defines “serious injury” as a personal injury which results in:
- Significant disfigurement;
- Loss of a fetus;
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system;
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system; OR
- A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
If you or a loved one sustained one of these types of injuries, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit in court against the driver who injured you and against his or her insurance company. By filing such a lawsuit, you can seek damages beyond those in the No-Fault Law, including compensation for your physical and mental pain and suffering.
New York’s Laws on Shared Fault in Car Accidents
New York follows a system of “pure comparative negligence” (also known as “pure comparative fault”) in personal injury cases. Under New York personal injury law (NY CPLR §1411), a person’s potential recovery can be reduced if he or she is at all to blame for his or her own injuries. The law states:
In any action to recover damages for personal injury … the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or to the decedent, including contributory negligence or assumption of the risk, shall not bar recovery, but the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or decedent bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.
This law means that, when you share some of the fault for the car accident that caused your injuries, your potential award will be reduced by your share of the fault. For example, if a driver ran a stop sign and hit you, but you were reading a text message at the time of the accident, you could be held partially at fault for your own injuries. While the other driver is primarily to blame because he violated a clear traffic law, a jury (or judge) might nevertheless find that if you had been paying full attention to the road, you might have been able to avoid the accident or avoid being injured as seriously. If the jury decides the other driver was 75 percent to blame for the accident (and thereby your injuries), and you were 25 percent to blame, your award could be reduced by 25 percent to account for your own fault.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP for Your Free Case Review
New York’s laws pertaining to car accident cases can be complicated, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal options and your potential recovery. If you suffered injuries in a car accident in New York, contact Parker Waichman LLP for a free case consultation by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or by filling out the online form on our website.
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