Truck Accidents, Insurance, and the Serious Injury Threshold

truck accident - the Serious Injury Threshold in new york

Commercial trucks are large, bulky vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds. When one of these vehicles collides with a smaller passenger car, the results can be catastrophic. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that at least 71 percent of those killed in commercial truck collisions are the occupants of other vehicles. New York truck accidents can cause significant physical and financial harm, changing a person’s life forever.

At Finz & Finz, P.C., we want to help you understand how a severe truck accident can change your life and how New York insurance regulations may affect your ability to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries.

New York No-Fault Insurance Rules

New York is one of a handful of states in the U.S. that follows a no-fault car insurance model. Under a no-fault system, when a driver is involved in a car accident, they turn to their car insurance company to help them cover their financial losses. In a more traditional fault-based insurance system, the victim would seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company instead.

In New York, no-fault or personal injury protection coverage pays an injured individual for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, 80 percent of their lost income, and some reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident, such as transportation to medical appointments or household assistance.

If a truck accident injures an individual, they can turn to their PIP coverage for help compensating them for their accident-related expenses. However, PIP coverage has its limitations. Unfortunately, collisions with commercial trucks can cause traumatic and life-altering injuries. Sometimes, the cost of treating these significant injuries can outpace the average New Yorker’s PIP coverage policy limits. When medical costs and lost wages exceed your insurance coverage limits, a person can suddenly find themselves on the hook for the remaining costs associated with the accident.

Commercial Truck Insurance Policies

Like other New York motors, all registered trucks must be insured. Generally, the trucking company that employs the driver provides this insurance coverage. However, independent drivers may carry their own truck insurance coverage.

Commercial truck insurance policies are not the same as car insurance policies. First, truck insurance policies tend to have higher policy limits than traditional car insurance policies. More coverage is necessary because commercial trucks are larger and capable of causing much more significant damage following a collision than passenger vehicles.

The value of the property damage and a victim’s physical injuries are often higher in commercial truck accidents than in other motor vehicle crashes. In addition to higher coverage limits, commercial truck insurance companies may offer additional coverage options like cargo insurance, physical damage coverage, and medical payment coverage in addition to traditional liability coverage.

The New York Serious Injury Threshold

What happens when you are in an accident caused by a careless truck driver? If you have extensive property damage and numerous physical injuries, you can quickly exhaust the limits of your PIP coverage. Are you stuck paying the difference?

New York allows individuals hurt in devastating truck accidents to step outside of the no-fault insurance system to pursue a claim against an at-fault driver. However, to hold the at-fault truck driver accountable for your financial losses, your injuries must meet New York’s “serious injury threshold.” New York law calls any injury that meets one of the following conditions a serious injury:

  • A significant limitation of the use of a body part, organ, or system
  • Bone fractures
  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or limb
  • Significant disfigurement

Some injuries can be “serious” if the injury or impairment is not permanent but does prevent you from performing nearly all of the activities you conduct every day for no less than ninety days during the 180 days following an accident.

You can use the serious injury threshold to hold the at-fault truck driver responsible for their careless actions via a third-party insurance claim instead of relying on your PIP coverage. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you may also attempt to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the trucking company, an insurer, or a third-party entity like a parts manufacturer.

Additionally, pedestrians injured in an accident can benefit from New York’s optional basic economic loss coverage or OBEL. Eligible individuals can assert a loss transfer claim for OBEL benefits against the no-fault insurer of the at-fault truck driver. Basic economic loss typically pays up to $50,000 per person.

Why You Need an Experienced New York Truck Accident Attorney

Unfortunately, holding truck drivers and their companies accountable for your financial losses can be challenging. As for-profit businesses, trucking companies and insurers want to settle your claim for as little as possible. Although tempting, accepting an offer is seldom in your best interest without consulting an experienced New York truck accident attorney first.

A skilled truck accident attorney can review your case and give you the best opportunity to pursue maximum compensation. An attorney can actively gather the evidence and documentation necessary to build a compelling claim in your favor. A New York truck accident attorney can also aggressively negotiate on your behalf, fighting back against the common tactics trucking companies and insurers use to diminish the value of your claim.

Another benefit to working with a New York truck accident attorney? Your attorney can prepare a personal injury lawsuit if an insurer is unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Truck accidents can cause catastrophic damage, leading to astronomical medical expenses not just today but well into the future.

Contact a New York Truck Accident Attorney Immediately

Do you need help recovering the money you deserve following an accident with a careless truck driver? Do not attempt to negotiate alone. Discuss your unique situation with an experienced New York truck accident attorney from Finz & Finz, P.C. to learn how you can pursue maximum compensation for your serious injuries and losses.

Contact our New York office today at 855-TOP-FIRM to arrange a free case review and learn more about your legal rights.


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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.