car accidents

Whether commuting to work, dropping the kids off at school or running errands, it goes without saying that many of us travel in automobiles on a daily basis. Additionally, we often get from Point-A to Point-B with loved ones in the car, including children and senior citizens. Therefore, when someone doesn’t follow the rules of the road and disaster strikes, it is important that you and your family be represented by lawyers that know the “ins and outs” of the laws that govern automobile accidents, some of which are summarized below.

Pursuant to Insurance Law 5102 and 5103, New York No-Fault Law states that someone injured in a car accident may recovery basic economic loss from their insurance company, which includes up to $50,000 per person and is made up of necessary medical expenses, loss of earnings (80% of his or her earnings is recoverable for no more than three years with a $2,000 per month cap), along with other reasonable and necessary expenses up to $25 per day for not more than one year from the date of the incident. For this reason, it is imperative that anyone involved in a car accident file a No-Fault Application with their insurance company within thirty days (30) of an accident.

In addition to No-Fault benefits, someone injured in a car accident has the right to sue the negligent party who caused the accident for money damages. However, Insurance Law § 5102 (commonly referred to as the “Threshold Law”) provides that, in order for a victim of a car accident to bring an action for his or her pain and suffering, a “serious injury” must be demonstrated, which is defined by Insurance Law 5102(d) as:

  • a personal injury which results in death;
  • dismemberment;
  • significant disfigurement;
  • a fracture;
  • loss of a fetus;
  • permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system;
  • permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member;
  • significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

The italicized sections represent the more common ways the “Threshold Law” is met by car accident victims. However, when the Court rules that the injuries are not severe enough to meet the “Threshold Law,” the claim will be dismissed regardless of the negligent driver’s actions.

In the State of New York, the minimum required insurance to cover the harm that a negligent motorist causes another is $25,000. If you are harmed by another motorist with a minimum policy, the most you will likely be able to recover from that motorist’s insurance company is $25,000 regardless of your injuries. However, if you carry Supplemental Underinsured Motorist coverage (commonly referred to as “SUM”), you may be able to recover the difference between the amount of your SUM coverage and the underinsured motorist’s policy limits. As such, we strongly advise every New York motorist to carry SUM coverage.

If you, a loved one or a member of your community has been injured as a result of a car accident, please do not hesitate to call FARELLA MASCOLO PLLC at 212-287-1277 for a free consultation.

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