New York and about a dozen other states in the U.S. follow a unique “no-fault” car insurance model. For locals and those moving to New York for the first time, it can be hard to grasp how the unique no-fault car insurance system works. What are the guidelines for cars, trucks, and motorcycles? How can you pursue the compensation you need following an accident? The answers are not always straightforward.
At Finz & Finz, P.C., we know it can be complicated to untangle insurance policy jargon. That’s why our experienced legal team wants to provide you with a comprehensive guide to New York car, truck, and motorcycle insurance laws and regulations.
What Is a No-Fault Car Insurance State?
Under a traditional fault-based car insurance system, when an individual gets hurt in a car accident, they file a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. The person who causes the crash is responsible for compensating the victim for their losses, usually through their insurance policy.
No-fault car insurance states are unique. In a no-fault system, when an individual gets hurt in an automobile accident, they turn to their personal insurance company for compensation. If you have a New York insurance policy and are injured in a motor vehicle accident, your insurance policy pays for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses, no matter who is responsible for causing the accident.
Understanding New York’s Car Insurance Requirements
Part of New York’s no-fault car insurance structure requires people who register their vehicles to carry personal injury protection or PIP coverage, liability, and uninsured motorist coverage. PIP coverage helps pay for a person’s financial losses after a collision, no matter who caused the accident. Basic no-fault auto insurance coverage includes:
- Death benefits
- Payment for reasonable and necessary medical expenses following an accident
- Reasonable expenses like household help and transportation to medical appointments
- Up to 80 percent of lost earnings from work
Personal injury protection coverage pays for the policyholder’s reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to that person’s policy limits. In addition to PIP coverage, New York motorists must carry minimum liability and uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum amount of liability coverage drivers must carry according to New York law is:
- $10,000 property damage coverage for a single accident
- $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death of a single person in an accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident
Uninsured motorist coverage helps protect drivers involved in accidents with uninsured or underinsured individuals and hit-and-run accidents.
New York Pedestrian Accident Coverage
In New York, pedestrians are covered by the PIP policy of the vehicle that hits them, regardless of whether they or the driver is to blame. Pedestrian who has their own optional insurance policy add-ons could also seek additional coverage through them. Review the terms of your policy or consult with an attorney if you believe this might apply to you.
Commercial Truck Insurance Policies
Those operating commercial trucks and vehicles in New York must also carry valid auto insurance. However, truck insurance policies vary slightly from standard car insurance policies. Typically, commercial truck insurance policies carry higher policy limits since commercial trucks cause more significant damage following an accident than standard passenger vehicles. In addition to higher policy coverage limits, many commercial truck insurance companies offer additional coverage options. Trucking companies or private truck drivers can opt into additional coverage policies such as:
- Cargo insurance
- Medical payment coverage
- Physical damage coverage
These policies are often supplemental and come at an additional premium.
New York Motorcycle Coverage Policies
The no-fault car insurance structure applies to nearly all vehicles on New York roadways, but motorcycle riders and their passengers are exempt from the state’s no-fault coverage rules. Injured motorcyclists must pursue compensation for their financial losses through an injury claim with an at-fault driver or a personal injury lawsuit. This process can be more challenging because the motorcycle rider must establish liability for the accident and prove the other motorist was at fault.
A point of confusion can arise because motorcyclists must purchase PIP insurance in order to register their motorcycles, but this only covers pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorists involved in an accident with them.
The New York Serious Injury Threshold
Once a New York motorist has exhausted their PIP coverage and still have unpaid medical bills or lost wages, they can step outside the no-fault guidelines and pursue meaningful compensation for their financial losses through a personal injury lawsuit.
An injured person can also file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver if their injuries meet a specific “serious injury threshold.” New York State Law defines a serious injury as:
- Bone fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent limitation of a body organ or limb
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant limitation of the use of a body part or organ system
Even if an injury or impairment is not permanent, you may file a lawsuit seeking compensation if your injury prevents you from performing nearly all of the daily activities for no less than ninety days during the 180 days following an accident.
How a New York Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you are filing a claim with your insurance provider, they have your best interests at heart. Insurance companies are for-profit entities whose primary concern is their bottom line, not whether you have the money to make a complete physical and financial recovery.
A New York personal injury attorney is your advocate. An attorney works for you, learning about the elements that make your claim unique. At Finz & Finz, P.C., we offer aggressive legal representation at the negotiating table and in the courtroom. No matter which route offers you the best opportunity to recover maximum compensation, we are fighting for you.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney for Help
Has a careless New York driver injured you in an accident? Are you unsure how to navigate New York’s no-fault insurance system? Discuss your situation with the experienced legal team at Finz & Finz, P.C. for help with your claim. Contact our office today at 855-TOP-FIRM for a free consultation with a skilled New York City accident lawyer.