Automobile Insurance Coverage in New York
Automobile insurance laws in New York and all other states require owners to carry at all times the certain types of insurance to protect themselves and others who may be injured. The specific type of insurance required varies from state to state, in New York vehicle owners must carry insurance for:
- no-fault coverage, which sometimes is referred to as “personal injury protection” or “PIP,” and
- liability insurance
No-Fault (PIP) Insurance Coverage
No-fault insurance provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages sustained by a driver, passengers, and pedestrians injured as the result of an accident involving the insured vehicle. This coverage is provided even if the owner or driver was not responsible for the accident (which is why it is referred to as “no-fault” insurance). Because the maximum coverage available under No-Fault insurance in New York is $50,000, it often does not cover full amount of damages that are sustained in an accident. As a result, vehicles owners will often want (and should) obtain additional liability coverage to protect themselves and others who may be injured if they are at fault.
For more information, please see “New York No-Fault Law”
Liability Insurance Coverage
New York requires that all owners obtain liability insurance coverage in the amount of at least $25,000. This coverage is designed to help pay damages for compensation for injury and damages caused by a driver to others, which may include other drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and others.
This minimum required coverage of $25,000 will often not be sufficient if serious injuries or damages sustained. For instance, if a fairly new car is totaled in an accident, the damages from such vehicle alone can easily exceed $25,000. Hospital bills, rehabilitative costs, lost time from work, and other damages in an accident can easily exceed $100,000 or more, particularly if long-term injuries or death are suffered. For these reasons, most insurance agents suggest obtaining liability insurance coverage of at least $250,000 or more to better protect owners and drivers in the event of a serious accident.
For more information, please see “What You Should Know About New York Liability Insurance”
How These Insurance Coverages Work Together
If there is an accident between you and another driver and you are both injured, you would each want to make a claim under your own insurance coverage for No-Fault (PIP) benefits. If the other driver was responsible for the accident, and if “serious” injuries are incurred (and other no-fault requirements have been met), you could then file a civil lawsuit against the other driver.
When such suit is filed, the insurance coverage for the other driver would have a duty to defend their insured, and the other driver’s liability insurance would then be available (up to the policy limits) to pay any judgment against the other driver. Similarly, if the other driver thought that you were at fault, a lawsuit could then be filed against you, and your liability insurance would apply up to the applicable coverage limits.
What Should You Do, and How Do We Help?
If a client of ours has been injured by another driver, we first will help them file a no-fault application for benefits with their insurance company, which ordinarily must be done within 30 days following an accident. We then will work on investigating the accident to determine fault, and will also determine what insurance coverage may be available by the other driver.
If we believe that the other driver is at fault, we can advise you as to your legal options available, including having us file a lawsuit on your behalf. Because we represent clients in auto and truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not be required to pay us any fees for our time unless we are successful in achieving a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
Because of the limited no-fault window of time in which a claim must be made, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Additionally, an attorney should also be contacted soon so that an accident investigation can be initiated before important evidence is destroyed (such as a crashed vehicle and the black box event recorder), and the accident scene is changed.