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No Fault Insurance in New York – How It Helps and How It Hurts Car Accident Victims

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in New York State, Insurance Law Article 51, referred to as the No-Fault law, governs your case.  This law divides your claim into two parts: first, for pain and suffering, and secondly, for medical expenses and lost wages, which are called “basic economic loss.”  The law eliminates compensation for pain and suffering unless you have suffered a “serious injury.”  To learn more about how no-fault insurance in New York can either hurt or help a car accident victim, give us a call today.

There are nine categories of serious injuries, but the most common ones are a fracture of a bone, and injuries that cause you significant limitations of your abilities.  Unfortunately, many people who have suffered painful injuries may not be compensated even though the accident was caused by a negligent driver. But if the injury comes within the statute’s definition of “serious injury” then they may recover money damages. Of course, the insurance companies demand proof of one of the categories of serious injury before they will pay money to an accident victim for bodily injury damages.  An experienced accident lawyer is essential to analyze your situation and obtain the medical evidence needed to protect your rights if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident.

In New York, the No-Fault law can be harsh to injured victims, but to make up for limits on pain and suffering awards, the statute provides that medical bills and a portion of lost earnings (80% up to $2,000 per month for up to 36 months) will be paid by the insurance of the vehicle that the injured person occupied at the time of the accident, regardless of whose fault caused the accident.  This is called No-Fault insurance, or Personal Injury Protection.  Every automobile insurance policy in New York is required to provide these benefits up to a combined total of $50,000.  The victim receives medical and wage loss benefits without having to go to court to fight over who was negligent. This is a true advantage, because lawsuits in court can take years if there is a dispute about who was at fault, for example when both drivers swear that they each had the green light.

The rules are different for claims for bodily injury pain and suffering, and for economic losses greater than the “basic economic loss.”  You must prove a driver’s fault in causing the accident to be compensated for these losses.  And, to recover for pain and suffering you must prove a “serious injury.” There are some strict time limits, however, to claim these benefits.  You must immediately notify the auto insurance company that covers the car you occupied that you were injured. An application for the No-Fault benefits must be filed within 30 days, and medical bills must be sent to the No-Fault insurance company within 45 days of the date of the medical service. You cannot recover for the medical bills and lost wages from the insurance company of the at-fault driver, or even your own health insurance, even though that seems to make sense, because the No-Fault Law is designed this way, and it is mandatory.

When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in New York, it can be a very confusing process to deal with these legalistic procedures. Legal assistance is necessary to protect yourself.  We at Tomkiel and Tomkiel are highly experienced accident lawyers who will help you to obtain full, fair and just compensation for your injuries.

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