Common Questions About Car Accidents in New York


At our New York offices, clients have a lot of questions about car accidents. If you’re involved in an accident, it’s a very traumatic time, and you want to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible and get back on with your life.

The attorneys at Daniella Levi & Associates have handled countless car accident cases and can help provide answers for you. If someone’s negligence was responsible for what happened, we can help you take action to receive the compensation you are owed.

Here are some of the questions clients have had after an accident. To discuss your case with an experienced NYC car accident attorney, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.

The 3 main reasons you should hire a lawyer if you were injured in a car accident are

1) A lawyer can help you to get all your medical bills covered and help you navigate the no-fault laws in New York.
2) A lawyer can help you get your loss wages reimbursed.
3) A lawyer can help you get higher compensation from the insurance companies, compared to what you would be able to negotiate on your own.

If you were involved in a car accident and the only resulting damage is property damage, then it is more likely than not that you will not need to hire a lawyer.

If your car insurance policy contains collision coverage, then all you need to do is to notify your carrier about the accident and they will handle it from that point. If you have a deductible, even if the accident was the other drivers fault, your insurance company will initially reimburse you the property damage amount minus the deductible amount. Then, they will go after the other driver’s insurance to collect the deductible, and once they collect it, you will get reimbursed.

If your car insurance policy only contains liability coverage, then you would have to notify, in addition to your carrier, the other driver’s carrier and negotiate with them to get reimbursed. How much money you will get reimbursed will depend on who was at fault for the accident, the value of your car, the amount of the property damage, as well as who is the other driver’s insurance company.

If you are injured in a car accident, the first priority is your health. Therefore the first thing you should do is get a medical evaluation and treatment, either at a hospital, a doctor’s office or an urgent care facility. After that, it is best to get a lawyer as soon as possible for the following reasons:

1. There may be evidence form the car accident that should be preserved, such as witnesses, video footage etc, and a lawyer can get that evidence preserved for you.

2. There is a strict and limited time period to file an application for no fault benefits which covers medical treatment and loss wages. Your lawyer can ensure that application is timely filed and that your rights to those benefits are preserved.

3. Legal cases can take a long time, its best to start as soon as possible.

The three most important things to do after a car accident are

1. Call 911, and ask for police response and if you or anyone else was injured also ask for medical response

2. If you are able, take photographs of the scene as well as of your car and the other driver’s car as well as their drivers license and insurance card if they allow you to.

3. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information.

What should I not do after a car accident

1. Don’t apologize, don’t say it was your fault, or anything of that nature

2. Don’t yell or blame the other driver

3. Don’t sign any documents

4. Don’t record any statements.

5. Don’t Refuse medical attention if you suffered any injury

6. Don’t talk with the other driver’s insurance company about pain, about settling the claim or about any details of the accident.

Under NY law, if you are injured in a car accident, whether you are a driver, passenger or a pedestrian, you are covered by n/f insurance. That means that regardless of whose fault for the accident, you would be covered for up to at least $50k for medical bills and approved loss wages

– If you are a driver or a passenger, then the n/f carrier would be the insurance carrier for the car you were in, the host car.
– If you are a pedestrian, then the no fault carrier would be the insurance carrier for the car that hit you.
In those cases, that insurance company would play a dual role, it will be not only the n/f carrier but also be the bodily injury carrier.

Under NY no fault law, an application for no fault benefits, both for medical bills and loss wages, must be filed with the responsible insurance company within 30 days from the date of the accident. Failure to do so, will result in all benefits being denied.

Also under NY no fault law, the recipient of the benefits must appear for medical examinations noticed by the no fault carrier. Failure to appear for those examinations, may result in all no fault benefits being denied retroactively.

The minimum liability car insurance requirement in the state of NY state is 25K, if you carry those limits, this automatically means that your uninsured and under-insured limits are also 25K.

What does that mean?, if you injure someone in a car accident, your liability insurance will cover up to 25K for their injuries if they file a claim against you.

If you are injured in a car accident by a driver that either has no insurance at all or else has a 25K liability policy, the most that you can recover is 25K.

Personally, my recommendation is that in NY everyone should carry a minimum of 100K liability policy and 100K of uninsured and under insured coverage.

What does it mean having a 100K policy?
– If you injure someone in a car accident, your liability insurance will cover up to 100K for their injuries if they file a claim against you.
– If you are injured in a car accident by a driver that has no insurance at all you would be able to recover up to 100K for your injuries from your own policy’s uninsured coverage.

It also means that if you are injured by a driver that carries only the min 25K liability policy, If you recover the full 25K from their policy, you could potentially go after your own policy, under the under-insured coverage to recover an additional 75K.

Bottom line, check your declaration pages! make sure you carry enough insurance, and make sure that your uninsured under insured limits match your liability limits. You want to protect yourself for the same amount you are protecting others.

Every injury case is different from another, because each person is different and has their own unique facts and circumstances. It is very important not to take a cookie cutter approach and analyze each person and case on its own unique facts. What I always say is that this is an art, not a science.

Generally speaking the categories of damages that can be claimed are for past and future medical bills, past and future loss wages, past and future pain and suffering and past and future loss of enjoyment of life.

How each of those categories is quantified is of course a complex matter. The medical and wage categories are fairly easy to quantify and come up with a dollar value. What is more difficult to prove and quantify are the pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life categories.

Some cases are resolved and settled during the course of litigation, and for those the average time table is approximately 18 months. For those cases, the valuation of all the categories of damages are negotiated between the lawyer for the injured person and either the lawyer or adjuster for insurance company.

In other cases, usually the ones where either liability or damages or both are hotly contested, a settlement cannot be achieved and those cases get all the way to a trial. At trial, the trier of fact, either a judge or a jury renders a verdict.

In New York, not every injury resulting from a car accident will result in financial compensation. in order to receive compensation for an injury sustained from a car accident, the injury has to fit the legal definition of “serious injury” which is defined by the NY Insurance law as an injury that must fall into one of the following 9 categories:

1. Death.
2. Dismemberment.
3. Significant disfigurement.
4. Loss of a fetus.
5. Fracture.
6. Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system.
7. Permanent consequential limitation of a body member or organ.
8. Significant limitation of use of a body organ or member.
9. 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.