What New Yorkers Need to Know About No-Fault Insurance Law

What New Yorkers Need to Know About No-Fault Insurance Law By  Stavros E. Sitinas, Esq.{2:13 minutes to read} New York State has a no-fault insurance law regime in place that applies to all people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents. What it means is this: Regardless of which driver is at fault in an accident, the medical bills for each occupant will be paid for by the insurance company of the vehicle that the injured occupant was traveling in at the time.

When this law was first enacted, its purpose was to reduce the number of motor vehicle accident cases filed in the courthouse. It was meant to streamline and reduce the number of lawsuits filed by those injured in automobile accidents.

No-fault regulations have indeed made it more difficult to prevail in a lawsuit against another driver; one must have sustained a “serious injury” as defined under the insurance laws. A serious injury is defined as death, dismemberment, gross disfigurement, or a fracture of any kind. There are also certain soft tissue injuries that qualify as a serious injury, but these need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

One way to meet the serious injury threshold is: if for 90 out of the first 180 days after the accident, the injured individual did not return to work; and if they did leave their residence, it was only to seek treatment at a hospital or doctor’s office. This is an incredibly high threshold, as most people would risk losing their jobs if they were absent for that long.

The premise behind no-fault in New York has largely backfired. The courts are now inundated with motions that require them to decide if the plaintiff’s injuries rise up to the level of a “serious injury.”

If you are injured in a car accident, what no-fault insurance means for you is that regardless of who was at fault, your own insurance company will pay for your medical bills and provide you with lost wages up to $2,000 a month, with maximum benefits typically not exceeding $50,000 total. These benefits can be terminated earlier, typically if the examination by the “no-fault doctor” (a physician assigned by the vehicle’s insurance company) finds that no further treatment is necessary.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Stavros Sitinas at ssitinas@sitinaslaw.com.

Misconceptions About Frivolous Lawsuits And The McDonald’s “Hot Coffee” Case  Stavros E. Sitinas, Esq.
(212) 539-1800

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