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What to do After a Car Accident That Is Not Your Fault [2020]

new york woman on the phone after a car accident

You’ve Been In a Wreck. What Now?

Whenever you are involved in a car accident that is not your fault, the at-fault driver takes responsibility. The damages you suffer are to be compensated by the at-fault driver. In most cases, the insurer of the at-fault driver would step in to compensate you. This is in case you institute a personal injury claim against the driver of the car or a third party insurance claim. However, the New York insurance policy also provides for a no-fault insurance policy where you claim compensation directly from your insurer.

This would mean that you need automobile insurance before driving your car in New York. Thus when an accident occurs, you need to report the accident to your insurance company. This should be done at the earliest time possible. You are normally required under your insurance policy to inform the company of any accidents. This is captured under the “Notice of Occurrence” clause. Basically, the clause requires you to inform the insurance company of the accident. You need to include sufficient details to help the insurance company to pursue the at-fault driver. The insurance company would require your cooperation to help protect you from frivolous claims from other parties. This would include unwarranted claims of uninjured passengers who seek to cash in on the accident by fraudulently claiming injuries. This is the standard practice for third-party claims as opposed to a no-fault claim.

No-Fault Insurance

New York embraces a no-fault car insurance coverage. Under this coverage, you would get payments for your personal injuries protection and medical benefits from your car insurance coverage without claiming it from the other party in the first instance. This will also cover out of pocket expenses such as travel and parking costs. The payments will only cover up to the limits covered under the insurance policy. This is regardless of the fact of who caused the accident or which driver is at fault. The only limitation to this kind of claim is that you may not get compensation for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages that resulted from the accident.

Filing the No-Fault Claim

Under NY No-Fault Regulation 68 the no-fault claim is filled as soon as an accident occurs but not later than thirty days after the accident occurs. It should be in a written form. Therefore in as much as you are required to notify your insurer whenever you engage in an accident that notification may not be sufficient unless it is in writing. The written notice should include details of all the injured persons. You may take their full names and addresses in addition to their telephone numbers and driver’s license numbers. You also need to indicate information that you obtain about the time of the accident. You need to indicate the place of the accident and explain the circumstances surrounding the car accident. This is then addressed to your car’s no-fault insurer directly or through their agents.

If you are a driver, a passenger or a pedestrian you need to file the claim with the insurance company of the car that you occupied at the time of the accident. This is straightforward for the driver of the car since he may be the owner and therefore insured. A pedestrian needs to know the insurer of the car that hit him. You need to make a claim for compensation from an auto policy held by a household family relative where an uninsured vehicle was involved in the accident. You would alternatively claim compensation from the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation where there is no auto policy. This ensures that you are not left without a claim to file or at least where to file it.

Your insurer needs to respond back within five business days of receiving your notice of claim. You would receive an Application for Benefits form and a letter explaining the No-Fault coverage available. This would also explain your rights and obligation in receiving the benefits. You need to complete the form and return it as soon as possible. Payment would then be made according to the prescribed fee schedules.

Timelines for Filing No-Fault Claims

You must remember that the timelines have been revised since April 5, 2002. Previously you would file a written notice within ninety (90) days. Currently, all the written notices must be submitted within thirty (30) days. You also need to submit the medical bills to be compensated within forty-five (45) days unlike previously when the submission was for a period of one hundred and eighty (180) days. Additionally, lost wages should be claimed within ninety (90) days. You would need to be aware of the wages that you would have earned had the accident not occurred.

Minimum Insurance Coverage

There are minimum amounts to be contributed to the no-fault insurance policy. There is a minimum of $10,000 for property damage for a single accident. You equally need to make a minimum liability claim of $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident. Additionally, you make a claim of $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident. You also require an uninsured motorist coverage for any injury you may sustain which is subjected to the outlined standards.

You need to maintain the insurance as long as the car registration is valid. This would apply even where you don’t use your car so often or on a daily basis. You equally need to ensure that the insurance company is recognized under the New York State insurance coverage and licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services. The company must get certified under the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle too. This, therefore, means that out of state insurance would not be recognized.

Damages over and above $50,000

Where you exceed $50, 000 as the basic liability under the no-fault insurance policy then you would need to make an additional claim. You apply for an additional Personal Injury Protection benefits from the vehicle you occupied. You may alternatively apply for the additional benefit from an auto policy from your family household or a related member of your household. You would ordinarily claim any additional liability from the insurer of the at-fault driver.

Third-Party Insurance Claim

You need to have sustained serious injury in order to file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. There is no limitation to claim for damage to a car or total loss of a vehicle in an accident. You would, therefore, need to sue the at-fault driver for the damages if you sustained serious injuries during the accident.

A serious injury would involve substantial disfigurement, bone fissure, a lasting constraint on using your limbs or another part of the body. It would also include a significant limitation on a normal function of the body or substantial disability for ninety days. These injuries allow you to hold the at-fault driver who caused the accident liable for compensating you. You would, therefore, make a third party insurance claim at the insurer of the at-fault driver and demand for the compensation from them. You need to prove the losses to the insurance company. You may also institute a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The damages sought would include pain and suffering as well as other non-economic costs available depending on your circumstances. These are explicitly not available under the no-fault policy and are additional to the no-fault claim.