No Fault Means No Guarantee

If you drive in New York, you are probably aware that New York is a “No-fault” jurisdiction, but what exactly does that mean, and how does that affect your rights if you are injured in an auto accident as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian?

No Fault Insurance

The purpose of no-fault insurance is to reduce the number of lawsuits and provide a way for people to receive compensation for minor injuries without having to resort to suing anyone. When an accident results in minor injuries, each party files a claim against their own insurance company. There is not a guarantee of coverage, however, and it is important to know the rules before filing a claim, or you may have an unpleasant surprise. Some important things to know about filing a no-fault claim:

  1. You only have 30 days to file a claim. The claim must be filed within 30 days of the accident, regardless of when you went for treatment, or when your treatment was completed. Failure to properly file a claim within 30 days may result in your claim being denied.
  2. You must have records of all medical care you received as a result of the accident. If the insurance company requires you to see a particular health care provider, you must follow up on all appointments scheduled.
  3. Your doctor must file the proper forms with your insurance company. You will not be reimbursed for your medical expenses if the forms are not filed directly with your insurance company.
  4. You must have documentation from your employer of any lost wages from the accident.
  5. Medical bills and lost wages up to $50,000 will be covered under the no-fault insurance law.
  6. You will not be compensated for pain and suffering under the no-fault law.

Serious Injuries

If you have suffered a “serious injury,” you can bypass the no-fault insurance and collect damages from the responsible party or their insurance company under traditional tort laws. This option is only available if your injuries qualify as “serious” under New York Law. Some examples of serious injuries include:

  • A fracture
  • Permanent loss or significant limitation of the use of a limb, organ, or bodily function
  • Injury or impairment that prevents you from engaging in your usual and customary activities for 180 days or more
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Death
  • Loss of a fetus

If your injury qualifies as “serious”, you may receive compensation for pain and suffering in addition to your medical expenses and lost wages.

Seek Legal Advice

While New York’s no-fault law was designed to simplify the process of filing claims for minor injuries from auto accidents, the system can be confusing. One false move can result in a loss of your rights. If you have been injured in an accident and are unsure of your rights or unfamiliar with how to file a claim, call Mirman, Markovits & Landau, PC at 212-227-4000 for a free consultation. With over 60 years’ experience representing injured people in New York, we know how to navigate the difficult and confusing waters of filing insurance claims, negotiating settlements, and pursuing legal action if necessary.