Automobile accidents and the no-fault insurance law
As long as there have been cars, there have been crashes. For just as long, the states have wrestled with how to deal with the substantial costs associated with vehicular accidents. New York is one of a minority of States that have adopted a no-fault system of insurance. If you are injured in an auto accident, you are entitled to receive no-fault insurance benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Even a driver who caused the accident, as a general rule, is entitled to no-fault coverage.
What costs are covered in an accident?
No fault insurance will pay up to $50,000 for the cost of medical care and prescriptions, lost wages, and other incidental expenses – such as travel to medical appointments and household care necessitated by the accident. These costs are not paid by your health insurance company, but rather by the insurance company insuring the vehicle you were in, or, if you were a pedestrian, the vehicle which struck you.
Injury lawsuits & no-fault insurance
The no-fault system was adopted as a means to curb litigation costs, and ensure swift compensation to individuals injured in auto accidents. Keep in mind that these benefits are in addition to any right you may have to bring a lawsuit against the owner and driver of the offending vehicle. Lawsuits are appropriate to compensate victims for their pain and suffering, as well as any lost earnings and out of pocket expenses not covered by no-fault, and are permissible only where an accident victim has suffered “serious injuries”, as defined by NY Insurance Law § 5102(d). A lawyer can tell you whether your injuries are “serious” in the legal sense of the word. Generally, injuries are considered “serious” if there have been fractures, permanent scarring and/or soft tissue damage that precludes the injured party from doing his/her “normal activities” following the accident.
In order to receive no-fault benefits, the injured party must contact the no-fault insurance company, request a no-fault application, and return the completed application within 30 days from the day of the accident. Medical providers must submit their bills to the no-fault carrier for reimbursement within 45 days of treatment.
We suggest you send all correspondence to the insurance company by certified mail, return receipt. Many of the auto insurance companies who run cute commercials on TV are notorious for refusing to pay medical bills by hiring unethical doctors who conclude that accident victims should no longer receive medical treatment, and for disputing victims’ claims that their injuries are “serious”.
Call us for more information
The lawyers at our firm have well over 100 years of collective experience handling auto accidents. We have learned that when you purchase auto insurance, cheaper is better only until you are injured in an accident. You generally get what you pay for. Please keep this in mind when you buy or renew your insurance coverage.