If you or a loved one are involved in a car accident, you may be left with debilitating injuries that cause pain and suffering, and which may even make you or your loved one unable to work. Tragic circumstances may even have led to the death of your loved one. Whether you are trying to recover or simply move on, seeking out compensation may help ensure your family’s financial security.
Unsurprisingly, more car accidents occur in New York than in most other states. The liability laws in New York are also more stringent, so if you are seeking out compensation you must be aware of these limitations and be prepared to bypass them or work within them.
New York “No Fault” and “Comparative Negligence” Rules
New York is one of only 12 states that has “no fault” auto accident compensation and insurance laws. This means that if you get into a car accident in New York, you first file a claim against your own insurance for injuries resulting from the accident – regardless of fault.
However, when injuries are severe and permanent, you may be able to bypass these laws and file a claim against the other driver if he or she was at fault. These circumstances include broken bones, substantial disfigurement, permanent impairment of a limb or body part, limitation of a bodily function or system, or full disability for 90 days or more.
Proving the other driver’s fault is more difficult in New York than many places since the negligence statutes here are quite stringent. New York is considered a “pure comparative negligence” state, meaning that should your case go to trial, the judge or jury will actually calculate the percentages of fault for each driver, and reduce damage awards accordingly.
For example, if you are suing the other driver for $1000 and the court determines that he or she is 70% responsible for the accident, you will receive only $700 in damages.
Types of Damages That You Can Potentially Recover
Damages for New York car accidents are usually related to property damage of the automobile or to personal injuries occurring as a result of the accident. In general, these damages fall into two categories, economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages. Economic damages include calculable expenses, such as lost wages, medical bills, and vehicle repair or replacement. Economic damages are relatively straightforward to identify.
Medical expenses – Medical expenses, including those incurred at the time of the accident and resulting from long-term injury, are a common damage for most car accident liability cases. A settlement for medical bills may include reimbursement for any expenses already paid, and a plan for payment of future medical treatments necessary to treat injuries resulting from an accident. However, there are some special considerations for future medical bills in no-fault states.
In a no-fault state such as New York, you are covered up to $10,000 by your own insurance for medical bills. However if your expenses exceed this and you were not at fault for the accident, you may be able to bypass the no-fault rule through a civil suit if your case meets the criteria discussed above in no-fault rules.
Lost wages – If you or your loved one are left unable to work due to injuries resulting from an auto accident, your settlement may include compensation for lost wages. This can include reimbursement for lost wages leading up to the suit, and a settlement for future lost wages.
Lost wages are also generally included in the settlement for a wrongful death if the decedent was working at the time of the accident.
Funeral expenses – If a car accident becomes fatal, the loved ones of the decedent may seek economic damages related to a wrongful death. These can include funeral or burial costs, which are often quite extensive.
Vehicle repair or replacement – In a serious car accident, damage or total destruction of one or both vehicles is inevitable. Many times vehicle repair or replacement is covered by insurance, but if damages exceed what is covered by insurance, some vehicle repair or replacement costs may be included in the settlement.
Noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages include less certain factors than economic, but are still just as important, as noneconomic damages resulting from a serious accident can be just as detrimental as economic damages, if not more so.
Pain and suffering – If you have incurred serious injuries from a car accident, you may be left with long-term pain and suffering that is debilitating and compromises your quality of life. In some cases, these consequences may even be lifelong.
Although financial compensation cannot alleviate pain and suffering, it can help to bring some sense of closure and justice for the injuries that you have suffered due to another person’s negligence, while providing much-needed money at a time when you may sorely need it.
Loss of affection or companionship – If an auto accident has resulted in a wrongful death or left the victim profoundly disabled, it may be appropriate to seek compensation for loss of affection or companionship to the victim’s loved ones. This typically includes spouses and minor children.
A New York personal injury attorney can help you to determine whether you may be able to seek damages and work with you to craft the best possible case to get you the compensation you deserve.