There are hundreds of thousands of car collisions in New York each year. Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths, according to the New York Department of Health. In Rensselaer County alone, there are an average of 1092 emergency room visits and 12 deaths every year due to car collisions.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash, your medical bills and other expenses may be paid by your own "no-fault" motor vehicle insurance. If your injuries are serious, you may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover additional compensation from the party responsible for causing your injuries.
New York "No-Fault" Car Collision Laws
New York is a "no-fault" car collision state. This means that those who are injured in a car crash are entitled to certain payments (typically, just your medical bills and some daily expenses), regardless of who was at fault in causing the car collision.
All New York drivers must have no-fault insurance coverage. No-fault insurance provides compensation of up to $50,000 per person for "basic economic losses" resulting from a car crash. In New York, it is the injured person's insurance company that pays these benefits, in most cases.
No-fault insurance provides compensation for the injured person's basic economic losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages due to being unable to work after a car accident
- Certain other "reasonable and necessary expenses" incurred as a result of the collision
Unfortunately, these laws can also make it more difficult for car collision victims to receive the full and fair compensation they are due for their injuries.
Generally, you will have 30 days to file a no-fault claim with your insurance company after a car crash. Claims for expense reimbursement must also be submitted in a timely fashion, often within 45 days of treatment.
When can an injured person file a car crash lawsuit?
No-fault coverage does not provide compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish or other "non-economic" damages. But you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for these injuries.
Generally, injured parties or surviving family members may only file a car crash lawsuit if a "serious injury" has occurred. New York law defines a serious injury as:
- A fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a part of the body
- Significant partial loss of use of a part of the body
- Significant disfigurement
- An injury that prevents the injured person from "performing substantially all of the… person's usual and customary daily activities" for at least 90 days
Some of these are relatively clear-cut. Death, broken bones or loss of a fetus don't leave a lot of room for interpretation. The other types of injuries are less clear-cut. For example, what constitutes "significant" disfigurement or "significant" loss of use of a body part?
If an injured person's expenses exceed the $50,000 no-fault limit or the collision resulted in a severe injury, the injured party may be able to recover additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for causing the collision.
It is important to seek the advice and support of an experienced car crash attorney in these types of cases. We will review all the facts of your case and determine how best to demonstrate that your injury was serious. We will prepare your case as though it were going to trial, because the insurance company must know that your attorney will take your case to trial before it will offer you the amount you really deserve.
New York Car Collision Time Limits
It is important to file car collision-related claims in a timely fashion. Key deadlines include:
- Lawsuit deadlines. Most personal injury lawsuits in New York must be filed within three years of the date of the injury. If the injured person dies, any lawsuit must be filed within two years. Minors who are injured often get a longer time to commence a lawsuit. The timeline (and the process for filing a lawsuit) may be different if the lawsuit involves a government employee or agency.
- Pain and Suffering under your own insurance policy. While the Statute of Limitations is typically three years when suing the person that hit you, it is sometimes also possible to collect for pain and suffering from your own insurance company under a Supplementary Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist ("SUM") endorsement on your own policy. However, the time to do so is short. Often, you must file a special notice with your own insurance company within 90 days of being injured, sometimes less. We would need to examine your insurance policy to see if you have the SUM endorsement as soon after the collision as possible.
These lawsuit deadlines are complex, and it can be fatal to your lawsuit if you do not follow them precisely. You need an experienced, knowledgeable, compassionate attorney to navigate through these deadlines. Contact us before you run out of time.
Were you injured in a car crash?
Every case is different, and every case deserves personal attention. At Frost & Kavanaugh, we limit the number of personal injury lawsuits we take, so we can give every case the personal attention it deserves. Even though most car crash lawsuits end in a settlement, we can and will go to trial to help our clients get the compensation they deserve for their injuries. If you were seriously injured in a car accident, contact us today for your free consultation. Schedule a free and confidential in-person meeting with our personal injury lawyers. If you can't come to our office, we will come to you. If you're in the hospital, we can come see you there as well.
Many people do not realize that they can switch lawyers at any time, even if they have already started their lawsuit. If you're dissatisfied with your current attorney, contact us and we can arrange to obtain your file from your outgoing attorney at no cost to you.
We handle claims on a contingent fee basis, meaning we perform all services without any payment from you upfront, and we advance all expenses of investigation, expert witness fees, and court filing costs. There is no fee to us unless you recover a verdict or settlement.