How Does No-Fault Insurance Work in New York?
New York is one of a handful of states that have a “no-fault” insurance system. In most other states, the driver who is at fault in an accident must pay (via their insurance coverage) for the damages resulting from the accident. In New York, your own insurance will cover your damages and injuries regardless of who was at fault (hence “no-fault”). There are limits to the coverage and damages available following an accident in New York’s system, but there are also claims that can take you outside of the no-fault system and into the realm of more serious damages. Read on for an explanation of how no-fault insurance works after a New York motor vehicle accident.
No-Fault Insurance in New York
Under New York’s no-fault insurance system, after a typical auto accident where you are either an occupant of an involved vehicle or a pedestrian, your insurance policy will cover your own economic damages stemming from the accident. Your insurance company will cover your lost wages, medical bills, burial costs, and other medically-necessary expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. It is important to get your medical expenses in writing from your doctor to prove all of your current and future expenses covered by your policy. You may seek reimbursement for medical devices such as crutches and wheelchairs, and for performance of household chores that your doctor determines, in writing, you are unable to perform.
Who Is Not Covered?
No-fault coverage generally does not benefit motorcycle drivers or passengers, occupants of their own uninsured cars, or the spouse of someone whose car is uninsured. If you are in another person’s uninsured car and you do not reside together, your own policy may cover the accident.
New York requires that drivers carry policies covering a minimum $50,000 in no-fault coverage for each occupant of the vehicle. You can opt for a higher limit, typically by paying a higher premium. For time spent out of work due to the accident, you will receive 80% of your gross monthly wages up to a maximum $2,000 per month, unless you select a special policy rider to get a higher lost wage amount. No-fault payments are not taxable.
Limits on No-Fault
No-fault insurance covers only monetary damages that stem directly from the accident, and only up to the policy limit. That means that your insurance will only cover things like medical expenses and lost wages. You cannot recover for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages from your insurance company, and you cannot sue the at-fault driver directly to recover those additional damages.
“Serious Injury” Accidents
In order to get outside of New York’s no-fault system and file a third-party insurance claim or sue the at-fault driver directly, you must prove that the accident caused you a “serious injury.” Serious injuries include any of the following, among other criteria:
- Bone fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of a body organ or the function of a bodily system
- Disability for at least 90 days in the first 180 days following the accident
If your injury meets the serious injury threshold, then you can sue the at-fault driver to recover for the damages that your no-fault policy does not cover. You can sue for additional medical expenses, lost income, and property damage, as well as for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Get Help after a Serious Car Accident in the Bronx
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an auto accident in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the passionate and effective Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm at 718-409-1200.