Vehicle owners in New York are required to maintain certain minimum levels of car insurance coverage on any vehicle registered and operated in the state, and it's important to understand how the state's no-fault car insurance scheme works after a car accident:
New York is one of a dozen or so states that follow some form of a "no-fault" car insurance system. Under no-fault, after a car accident, your own car insurance coverage (specifically, your "personal injury protection" or PIP coverage) pays for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses incurred by anyone covered under the policy, up to coverage limits, regardless of who caused the accident.
When a vehicle owner carries mandatory no-fault PIP coverage, it will cover:
In New York, after a car accident, the vehicle owner/policyholder's no-fault or PIP coverage will apply to pay the covered person's:
No. With a no-fault claim, you can't get compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-monetary damages stemming from the accident.
In order to step outside of the no-fault system and file a third-party car insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver (so that "pain and suffering" and other non-economic losses are on the table) your injuries must meet certain thresholds set by state law (we'll look at New York's "serious injury" threshold in the next section).
It's important to note that New York's no-fault car insurance system applies to injuries caused by car accidents, but not to vehicle damage claims. A claim for damage to (or total loss of) a vehicle can be made against the at-fault driver in New York, with no limitations.
As touched on above, in order to step outside of New York's no-fault car insurance claim system and pursue a claim against the driver who caused your car accident, the car accident injuries you suffered must qualify as "serious" under the threshold set by state law. That means, as a result of the car accident, you've experienced any of the following:
If your injuries qualify under this definition, you're not limited to a no-fault claim under your own policy. You can hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident via a third-party car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, and you can pursue compensation for all categories of losses, including pain and suffering and all other available non-economic damages (which, again, aren't available in a no-fault claim).
Anyone whose car accident injuries might be covered by a no-fault/PIP policy in New York must report the accident in writing (to the insurance company that issued the policy) no more than 30 days after the date of the accident. Exceptions to this deadline might be made if the injured person submits written proof showing "clear and reasonable" justification for the failure to comply with this 30-day deadline.
According to the New York State Department of Financial Services, if you've been injured in a car accident and you need medical treatment that's covered under your own (or someone else's) no-fault/PIP car insurance, you:
As long as you make clear to the health care provider that you're being treated for car accident injuries, and unless any additional information is requested, the car insurance company is required to make payment on your no-fault/PIP claim within 30 days of receiving the request for reimbursement or the healthcare provider's bill, or be subject to the payment of interest and other penalties.
Now that you understand how no-fault car insurance works in New York, let's look at the state's requirements for different kinds of car insurance coverage.
In order to drive a motor vehicle in New York, vehicle owners must carry certain minimum amounts of insurance on it:
Keep in mind that, if you are found responsible for causing a car accident, and the injured drivers' and/or passengers' losses exceed the limits of your car insurance policy (which is not all that far-fetched a possibility if you've only met New York's minimum coverage requirements), you may find yourself personally responsible for making up the difference out of your own assets.
For more details on New York's motor vehicle insurance rules and requirements, check out the Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements page from the New York Department of Financial Services.
After any kind of car accident in New York, and especially if your injuries turn out to be serious, you may want to understand your options for recovering all of your losses. An experienced lawyer can help. Learn more about how an attorney can make a difference in your car accident case.