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What Is No-Fault Car Insurance in New York?

November 14, 2018 in

Some states use a liability-based system for resolving car accident claims, and an at-fault driver’s insurance typically covers damages the policyholder causes. However, New York is one of several states that follow a “no-fault” rule for car accident insurance claims. This means that a driver who suffers injuries and/or property damage in a car accident in New York will need to use his or her own insurance coverage to pay for the damages.

According to All drivers in New York must carry the state’s minimum insurance coverage, but it’s important to remember that a serious accident may result in significant damages that eclipse the limits of a minimum policy. Policyholders generally have the option to purchase more extensive coverage and additional coverage types, but this leads to higher premium payments. It’s up to each driver to maintain insurance that provides a healthy balance of coverage with affordable premiums.

New York Minimum Insurance Requirements

In New York, all drivers must carry auto insurance that allows for $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury per person resulting from an accident the policyholder causes. A policy must also cover at least $50,000 in total liability bodily injury coverage per accident a policyholder causes. New York also requires an auto insurance policyholder to carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident the policyholder causes and $50,000 in no-fault personal injury protection. Finally, New York also requires drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage that meets the same minimum requirements.

While a minimum insurance policy may sound sufficient, a serious accident can be incredibly costly, especially when one involves multiple vehicles and serious injuries. If an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is not enough to fully compensate victims in an accident the at-fault driver caused, he or she could face civil liability if the victim’s damages meet the state’s requirements for legal action.

When Insurance Isn’t Enough

If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries in an accident and your damages exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the driver. However, this is only the case if your damages meet the state’s criteria of “severe injuries,” such as bone fractures, permanently disabling injuries, any injury that results in loss of control of bodily functions or use of part of the body, or any injury that results in significant disfigurement.

If a driver’s injuries meet the state’s definition of a “severe injury,” the driver may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for what insurance won’t cover. The damages available in most car accident lawsuits in New York typically include:

  • Medical expenses. If an at-fault driver’s minimum bodily injury liability coverage is not enough to cover the plaintiff’s immediate and future medical expenses resulting from an accident, the at-fault driver is responsible for the plaintiff’s hospital bills and ongoing medical expenses.
  • Lost income. If a severe injury prevents the victim from working for an extended time, he or she can claim compensation for the income lost during recovery. If he or she cannot return to work at all, the defendant may be liable for the plaintiff’s lost future earnings as well.
  • Property damage. A minimum policy in New York only covers up to $10,000 in property damage, so any property damage exceeding this amount would be the defendant’s responsibility.
  • Pain and suffering. Severe injuries may not only be extremely physically painful but also result in long-term psychological damage from trauma, disability, or diminished quality of life. The jury in a personal injury lawsuit will assess the plaintiff’s condition and consider expert witness testimony to determine an appropriate figure.

If you recently experienced an accident and the amount your insurer covers is not enough for your damages, contact an experienced attorney to find out if you have grounds for a lawsuit under New York’s no-fault system.