Motor Vehicle Accident FAQs

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Top most commonly asked Motor Vehicle Accident questions and answers*

What is No-Fault? 
In New York State, the No-Fault law allows for the speedy compensation to drivers, passengers and pedestrians for basic economic loss which includes medical expenses, 80% of lost earnings up to two thousand dollars per month for not more than three years from the date of the accident (less potential offsets from disability, workers compensation, or Social Security Disability benefits), and all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, up to twenty-five dollars per day for not more than one year from the date of the accident causing the injury.  The No-Fault insurance carrier will pay up to $50,000 for these economic losses. The purpose of this law is to speed compensation without lengthy and expensive legal battles over fault and money owed.

How do I claim No-Fault benefits?
To claim No-Fault benefits, you must contact the insurance carrier of the car you were in when the accident occurred as soon as possible after the accident.  Many people mistakenly think the insurance for the car that caused the accident is supposed to pay.  You must send a Notice of Accident form to the insurer of the car you were in when the accident occurred within 30 calendar days after the accident.

If I am in an accident caused by another driver can I automatically bring a lawsuit?
New York is a “No-Fault” injury state.  In order to commence a lawsuit as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident, you must sustain a serious injury.

What is considered a serious injury?
●          Death, dismemberment or significant disfigurement;
●          Fracture
●          Loss of Fetus
●          Permanent use of a body organ or member
●          Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
●          Significant limitation of use of body function or system
●          Medically determined injury which prevents the injured party from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute the usual and customary activities for 90 of the first 180 days following the accident.

Does No-Fault pay for damage to my vehicle? 
No-Fault does not pay for damage to your motor vehicle or personal property damaged in the accident.

Am I responsible if I lend someone my vehicle and they cause an accident? 
If you allow someone to use your vehicle and an accident occurs, you are consenting to a permissive use of your vehicle and are responsible for damages incurred as a result of the accident.

Can I sue my spouse for injuries sustained in a car accident?
Absent a specific spousal endorsement, spouses cannot sue one another.

Does “No-Fault” Apply to accidents involving motorcycles?
No-Fault is excluded from accidents involving motorcycles.  As such, a serious injury is not required prior to commencing a lawsuit involving a motorcycle accident.

If I am a pedestrian and am struck by a motor vehicle, does No-Fault apply?
Yes.  All pedestrians struck by any motor vehicle are protected by No-Fault coverage.  The protection comes from the vehicle that struck the pedestrian.

Can a person be excluded from No-Fault Coverage?
Yes.  A person may be excluded if he/she is involved in an accident as a result of driving while intoxicated; intentionally causes the accident; drives an ATV or motorcycle; is injured while committing a felony; drives a stolen vehicle; or is the owner of an uninsured vehicle.

What is Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage? 
Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage provides coverage for an individual, a family member who lives with that individual or anyone in a car  which the individual is operating if a negligent motorist (1) has no insurance or (2) has a low policy limit.

In simple terms, SUM/UM coverage applies if another driver causes an accident and has little or no auto insurance coverage.  In this situation an injured party may use their own SUM/UM coverage to obtain additional compensation for the injuries suffered.  See our blog for more detailed information on SUM.

Is there a time frame that I must file a lawsuit regarding my accident? 
Yes.  Generally, the statute of limitations for a car accident is three years from the date of the accident.  However, if a death occurs the statute of limitations is two years.  In addition, shorter times may be applicable if the vehicle that caused the accident is owned by a municipality or public authority.

*While the above information may help to answer some questions, every case has its own unique facts and circumstances and should be thoroughly reviewed in detail with your attorney.