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New York Car Accident Compensation Laws

This isn’t Manhattan. This isn’t Albany. Here, in Mechanicsville, things are a little different. The blistering cold of winter not only singes your skin with each westward gust, but the slick roadways of bridges conceal patches of deadly black ice. There are no subways. There isn’t a Yellow Cab in sight. If you want to go anywhere but here, you’ll have to drive. And driving, whether it be through a blizzard in upstate New York or among the seemingly suicidal cab drivers of Manhattan, carries a lot of risk. Be prepared for the worst by learning about New York car accident compensation laws.

Below, you'll find a table laying out New York's car accident compensation laws, followed by in-depth explanations of key aspects of the laws.

Statute of Limitations

Three years from date of accident (N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. §214)

Limits on Damages

No-fault insurance laws limit options for lawsuits. (New York Insurance Law § 5101 et seq.)

Other Limits

Pure comparative fault jurisdiction. (N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. §1411)

New York's "No Fault" and "Comparative Negligence" Rules

New York is one of only a handful of states that has "no fault" car insurance and accident compensation laws. That means that if you get into an accident in New York, you first file a claim with your own insurance for your injuries resulting from an accident.

However, under a limited set of circumstances where injuries are severe and permanent, you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance, and if necessary, a lawsuit. These include:

  • Broken bones
  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Permanent impairment of use of a body organ or limb
  • Substantial limitation of a body function or system, or
  • Substantively full disability for 90 days.

These additional claims against the other driver may also open up the door to pain and suffering claims and other non-economic damages.

However, to prevail on the additional claims, you’ll have to prove some level of culpability on the other driver’s part, as New York is a "pure comparative negligence" state. This means that if your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will compare fault, calculate percentages of fault for each driver, and reduce damage awards accordingly. For example, if a driver suffers $1,000 in damages after a fender-bender, but was found to be 40% percent at fault, her recovery will be limited to 60% of her damages -- here, $600.

Types of Damages

Typical damages that can result from car accidents include:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Rental car costs
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of affection or companionship
  • Wrongful death

The above damages are often categorized as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include calculable expenses, like lost wages or car repair. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, include less certain factors, like pain and suffering.

Limits on Damages

Beyond the above obstacles to recovery found in no fault insurance laws and comparative negligence limits, there is really only one other limit on damages: a strict time limit (known as the statute of limitations) for filing a legal case. In New York, you have three years from the day of the accident to file a lawsuit.

Have Specific Questions About New York Car Accident Compensation Laws? Ask a Lawyer

"No fault" insurance laws make New York claims difficult, as they require you to go to your own insurance, unless your injuries are severe. And who decides whether they are severe enough to warrant a lawsuit? Stop wondering and talk to an experienced car accident attorney to learn how your claim fits into New York's complicated system and how much compensation may be available to you.

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