When someone is injured in a car accident, there may be questions about who will reimburse them for the costs associated with those injuries. No-fault insurance is the law in New York state, but it can be more complex than it appears on the surface. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault insurance is, as its name implies, insurance that doesn’t attribute fault. Regardless of why the accident happened or who was at fault, the injured person turns to their own insurance first to file claims relating to damages from the injuries.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing for No-Fault Insurance Claims?
Yes, and it’s important to know this because the filing period is very short: The injured party has 30 days from the accident date to file for damages with their insurer. After that, the insurer could well deny the claim, and all medical costs could be out of pocket.
What Level of Coverage is Required for Auto Insurance in New York?
New York state mandates that vehicle owners must carry the following minimums for auto insurance.
- $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000/$100,000 for death
- $10,000 for any property damage per accident
Vehicle owners have the option to pay more to receive higher coverage rates. Given how quickly medical bills can reach the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s a good thing to consider if the owner can afford it.
What Does No-Fault Insurance Cover?
No-fault insurance covers various medically based expenses, including the following.
- Out-of-pocket medical bills
- Lost wages due to time away from work for recovery
- Therapy treatments (physical, occupational, rehab, mental health)
- Prosthetic devices
- Non-medical care chosen as a replacement for medical treatment due to religious beliefs
- A stipend toward transportation costs to medical appointments or for home healthcare
- Burial expenses
What Isn’t Covered Through No-Fault Insurance?
Noticeably absent on the list of what’s covered above is property damage. No-fault insurance is meant to handle expenses related to bodily injury, not to the damages caused to property, such as the vehicles in the accident or adjacent property (light posts, fences, etc.).
When property damage is involved, it’s time to determine where the fault for the accident rests, as that party’s insurance would be expected to handle the damages.
How Does New York Determine Which Driver is at Fault for an Accident?
It might seem logical that one driver caused the accident and the other was faultless. However, that’s often not the case. There are times when a speeding driver hits a driver that was running a red light. Both were at fault. Then, the courts need to assess how much fault each party had in order to determine how the injured party should file for damages.
Different states handle this assignment of fault differently. New York state follows what’s known as pure comparative negligence. In this model, the injured party could be 99% at fault and still be able to claim 1% of the damages awarded. That differs from other states that say either the injured party can’t be at fault at all and claim damages, or they can be no more than about half responsible.
An example of this would be in the situation described above. Hypothetically speaking, the court could determine that the driver running the red light was 60% at fault and the speeding driver was 40% at fault. The speeding driver was injured and awarded $10,000. Because they were 40% at fault, in New York, they’d receive $6,000.
Are There Any Exceptions to No-Fault Insurance?
Yes. Motorcycle riders and passengers or people driving or riding in their own or their spouse’s uninsured vehicles are not eligible for no-fault damages.
Insurers are also allowed to make some exceptions within their policies. It’s important to check individual policies to see what is and isn’t included. Whenever there are questions, it’s advisable to work with a personal injury attorney. These are some of the scenarios that may be excluded from coverage by certain insurers.
- Drivers who were street racing or doing speed tests.
- Driver under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, including legal prescription or over-the-counter drugs that cause impairment.
- Drivers who intentionally caused their own injuries.
- Drivers who were breaking the law or driving a stolen vehicle.
What Should I Do if I Was Injured in a Car Accident?
First, collect the names, contact info, and insurance details of the other party involved in the accident. Even if no-fault insurance applies, it’s possible that you’ll need that information later. If there were eyewitnesses to the accident, try to get their names and contacts as well. You should also file a police report.
Next, you should have yourself examined by a doctor, even if you don’t think you were severely hurt. Some injuries don’t present symptoms at first, but if left untreated, they can worsen and even become dangerous.
Then call the Rizzuto Law Firm as soon as possible at 516-622-0606 for a free case evaluation. If your no-fault insurance doesn’t completely cover your injuries, you may need to file a claim with the party responsible for the accident. Because of New York’s comparative negligence laws, they’ll try to shift as much blame onto you as possible. Don’t engage in conversation or communication with the other party, their attorney, or their insurance representative. Let your lawyer handle that.