Auto Accidents

Auto accidents in New York present unique issues when it comes to the presence of insurance. New York has a mandatory no-fault insurance law under which every New York-registered motorist is required to carry insurance. In the event of an accident, that insurance policy pays the policyholder’s, his passengers’ and pedestrians necessary medical expenses and lost wages up to a maximum of $50,000 without regard to who caused the accident. However, any additional recovery, such as for pain and suffering, must be sought in court. Under the no-fault law, if you were in an auto accident, you are permitted to sue a driver to seek damages for pain and suffering if you suffered serious and permanent injuries due to that driver’s negligence.

Settling with an insured: Although the decision is yours to make, your lawyer may advise you to settle with the person who caused your injury when there is a reasonable and good faith offer of settlement from an insurance company, even if going to trial might result in a larger judgment in your favor. In such a situation, accepting the sure recovery may be preferable because it will save years of litigation, and in cases where the defendant is of limited means, your ability to collect on a judgment for an amount beyond the insurance coverage may be likewise limited.

Furthermore, insurance companies have the resources to make recovery a long, drawn-out battle. That doesn’t mean that you cannot win against an insurance company; rather it can be difficult and time-consuming. Your personal injury lawyer will be in the best position to advise you as to whether a settlement offer from an insurance company is a reasonable one, or whether it should be rejected.

What if I was injured by a motorist who doesn’t have insurance?

New York law requires that all motorists carry uninsured motorist coverage. That means that if you have auto insurance, and you are injured by a motorist who does not have insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage will cover your injuries. If you do not have auto insurance (because you do not own a car), you will have to pursue a claim against the driver who injured you. If you do not know who injured you (i.e., you were the victim of a hit-and-run), or if the person who hit you is of limited means, you may seek recovery from the New York Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Company, which has established an insurance fund for the victims of uninsured motorists and drivers of stolen cars. However, your coverage under this plan is limited to $25,000 per accident.

I was injured by the wrongful conduct of someone who has insurance:

  • Seek medical attention immediately and document your claims as thoroughly as possible
  • Do not talk to any representatives of the company that insures the person who caused your injury
  • Your time to sue is limited; contact a personal injury lawyer ASAP

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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