If a car accident in New York that wasn’t your fault caused you serious, life-altering injuries, you might be considering whether a lawsuit will help with the costs of your recovery. Today, the Finz & Finz, P.C. team will discuss situations when you could sue after a car accident in the Empire State and why you might consider pursuing compensation in court.
Insurance in New York
In New York, each person involved in a car accident could file a no-fault claim to receive money from their insurance company, regardless of whether they were at fault for what happened. Even if you were a pedestrian or passenger injured in the accident, you might still have protection through your liability insurance policy.
All liability insurance policies issued in New York must have these coverage amounts at a minimum:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage – A policy must have a $50,000 minimum limit for injuries to you, anyone in your vehicle, or any pedestrians injured by your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault.
- Non-fatal bodily injury – A policy must cover at least $25,000 for non-fatal bodily injury to a single person and $50,000 for non-fatal bodily injury to two or more people.
- Fatal injury – A policy must cover at least $50,000 for fatal bodily injury to a single person and $100,000 for fatal injuries to two or more people.
- Property damage – A policy must cover at least $10,000 of property repairs per accident. Note that no-fault insurance doesn’t cover damage to your car.
- Uninsured motorist coverage – This coverage must have the same bodily injury limits as the non-fatal bodily injury coverage and applies when an uninsured motorist or a hit and-run-driver injures someone in your car.
Filing a no-fault claim against your PIP insurance allows you to pursue compensation for the following expenses:
- Doctor visits
- Medical procedures
- Medical devices
- 80% of your lost wages, up to $2,000 per month for three years
- Up to $25 per day for up to a year for necessary expenses like household help
- Death benefits, if the accident resulted in a fatal injury
Remember, however, that you only have 30 days after the accident to file a no-fault insurance claim. Finz & Finz, P.C. has deep knowledge of the no-fault system and can help prepare and file claims as necessary.
When Can Someone Sue Regarding a Car Accident in New York?
In New York, you must use the no-fault system to recover medical costs and lost wages in most cases. However, if you sustained a “serious injury” as defined in New York law, you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault party after the accident.
A “serious injury” includes the following:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic amputation/dismemberment
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of an unborn child
- Restricted use or total loss of a bodily organ
- Limited or lost ability to control a bodily function
- Any non-permanent injury that stops you from your daily activities for at least 90 days in the 180 days after the accident
For the best chances of recovering compensation in a lawsuit, you should obtain medical attention immediately after the accident. Your care team will work to discover any injuries you sustained, severe or not, hidden or apparent. They can also offer advice on how your injuries will impact your daily life, which your lawyer can use in a future lawsuit.
What Could I Recover in a Successful Lawsuit?
No-fault liability insurance can only cover some of your “economic” losses. These are the objective expenses that have a fixed dollar amount. In a lawsuit, you could recover additional “non-economic” compensation for losses such as:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Inability to enjoy hobbies and pastimes
- Loss of companionship
When your lawyer prepares a lawsuit, they will assign a monetary value to something that was previously “priceless.” They could use either of two methods for their calculation:
- Use a multiplier – Your lawyer will collaborate with experts to determine the value of your economic losses. Then, they’ll multiply the amount by a number between 1.5 and 5. The “multiplier” they use will depend on how severe your losses are, how long your recovery will be, and whether your losses permanently impact your life.
- Calculate per diem – Your lawyer will calculate the cost of your injuries and losses per day, then multiply it by the number of days until you achieve the best possible recovery.
When Should I Consider Suing?
If any of the following circumstances apply to you or your case, your lawyer might recommend a lawsuit:
- You sustained a “serious injury” – A lawyer will examine your medical documentation to determine whether your injuries meet the legal threshold. If your injuries are “serious” according to New York law, preparing and filing a lawsuit could allow you the best possible opportunity to win fair and maximal compensation.
- You can’t work due to your injuries – While no-fault claims can help with a portion of your lost wages, a lawsuit can help you recover money for an inability to work. This compensation will help you support your dependents during your recovery.
- Your long-term quality of life has changed for the worse – Our hobbies allow us respite from the more challenging aspects of life. If your injuries render you unable to enjoy the activities you love, temporarily or permanently, you could pursue compensation.
Time Limit to File a Car Accident Suit in New York
New York’s statute of limitations establishes a three-year window to file a car accident lawsuit. The filing period begins on the day of your accident. State courts will likely dismiss a suit if they find it was filed after the deadline.
The more time your lawyer has, the more options they could use to collect evidence and work toward an out-of-court settlement with the liable party’s insurer. For the best possible odds of securing the compensation you deserve, it’s best to hire an attorney as soon as you can.
Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. for Your Case Review
For over 35 years, the attorneys of Finz & Finz, P.C. have defended the rights of New Yorkers injured in car accidents. Our experienced, savvy, and nationally-recognized team has secured over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts, including some of the largest ever awarded by state courts. For a free case evaluation, contact our Manhattan or Long Island offices at (855) TOP-FIRM.