What Happens if You Are at Fault for a Car Accident in New York?
Car accidents are painful, costly and stressful to deal with. If you are considered to be the one at fault, then you can expect to experience even more stress and uncertainty regarding what might happen to you and if you’ll be required to pay for the other driver’s damages. Luckily, New York’s no-fault insurance laws can come to your aid in most minor crashes, and if the other driver was seriously injured, your liability insurance can protect you from being personally liable to them. It’s also important to know that if you were injured in the crash, you can benefit from no-fault insurance or even sue the other driver if they were partially to blame. Read on to learn about the legal and practical implications of being at fault in a car accident in New York. For help with a claim against a negligent driver in The Bronx, contact Kohn Law Firm to visit with an experienced and dedicated NY car accident lawyer.
Understanding New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law
In New York, the no-fault insurance system is designed to streamline the process of compensation after a car accident. This system allows individuals to file a claim with their own insurance company for medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic losses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
To put it simply, you can claim compensation from your own insurance carrier under no-fault insurance without having to prove that the other party was responsible for the accident. It’s essential to file this claim within 30 days of the accident to secure your benefits. Likewise, the other driver will file a claim with their insurance provider and won’t come after you, unless they were seriously injured.
When Fault-Based Claims Are Applicable: Serious Injuries
If you’ve suffered “serious injuries,” New York law allows you to step outside the no-fault system and pursue a fault-based claim against the other party. A “serious injury” is defined in the law and includes injuries such as significant disfigurement, bone fractures, and substantial limitations in your daily activities for a certain period.
If you are at fault in the crash and the person you hit suffered a serious injury, they might file a lawsuit against you to recover their legal damages, which can include the full amount of their medical bills, lost wages, and “non-economic” damages like pain and suffering and emotional distress. But so long as you have bodily injury liability insurance, your insurance claim will settle your claim on your behalf or defend you in court and pay any judgment if they lose your case.
New York’s Comparative Fault Rule
What if you are at fault for the accident but you were the one who suffered a serious injury in the crash? If you were only partially at fault and the other driver was negligent as well, then you might have recourse to recover a portion of the damages you’ve incurred. New York follows a “pure comparative fault” rule. This means you can still recover damages, but your compensation will be reduced by the percentage you’re found to be at fault. For example, if you’re 30% at fault and your damages amount to $100,000, you’ll receive $70,000 after a 30% reduction. Even if you were more at fault than the other driver, you could still pursue a claim for damages. For instance, if you were 70% at fault and your damages amount to $100,000, you’ll receive $30,000 after a 70% reduction.
Report the Crash No Matter Who Was at Fault
All drivers in an accident are required to report the accident to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the damage to property or persons exceeds $1,000. Failure to do so can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. This responsibility applies whether or not you were at fault.
Financial Consequences and Insurance Premiums
Being at fault often means a hike in your insurance premiums. While each insurance company has its methods for determining rate increases, a surcharge is generally applicable. You might also face increased scrutiny when renewing your insurance or searching for a new provider.
Talk to an Experienced New York Car Accident Lawyer After a Crash
One important fact about being at fault in a car accident is that you shouldn’t take the insurance company’s or the other driver’s word for it. Just because they say you were at fault doesn’t make it so. Car crashes are complicated, and with so much at stake, it’s important to get your own attorney to review the accident on your behalf. This shouldn’t cost you anything as most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to evaluate your claim. They can give you an idea of whether you bear all, some or most of the blame for the crash depending on the circumstances, and can advise you on your options.
Understanding the implications of being at fault in a car accident in New York requires a good grasp of the no-fault insurance system and the specific rules surrounding serious injuries and comparative fault. Remember that even if you’re partially at fault, you might still recover some amount of compensation under New York law. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are concerned about your legal responsibilities and rights, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. In The Bronx, call the Kohn Law Firm at 718-409-1200 for a free consultation.