After a major car accident, the likelihood of suffering from serious, chronic, and life-altering injuries is common. However, even if you would describe your concussion or lacerations as “serious,” in order to sue a negligent driver for causing your accident, your injuries must qualify as “serious” under New York law. Unfortunately, what a victim considers serious and what qualifies under state law are often quite different. Below I’ll tell you more about what this means for accident victims, what to do if you are experiencing serious injuries, and when a New York car accident lawyer can help.
New York No-Fault Auto Insurance
Because New York is a no-fault state, anyone injured in a car accident must begin the process of being compensated by reporting the costs of their injuries to their insurance company. This is true regardless of whose fault the accident was.
Under the no-fault system, victims can be reimbursed for medical bills (including psychiatric treatment and physical therapy), lost earnings of up to $2000 per month for a maximum of three years, and up to $25 per day for additional accident expenses for a maximum of one year.
In total, the maximum amount of insurance compensation you can receive after a car accident in New York is $50,000. However, as you can imagine, accidents often result in damages far beyond the maximum amount of insurance compensation. But under no-fault laws, you cannot sue for additional damages unless you can prove that your injuries legally qualify as “serious.”
What Qualifies as “Serious” Under New York Law?
New York State laws defines a serious injury very specifically, as one of the following:
Permanent loss or use of a body organ, function, or system
As you can see, this is a very specific definition, but before you determine that you cannot sue for damages, you will want to know about what is often referred to as the “90/180 day rule.” Under this part of the law, if you are injured due to another’s negligence, you can sue for a non-permanent medical injury or impairment that keeps you from conducting your essential daily activities for at least 90 days during the 180 days after the injury occurred.
For example, if you couldn’t go to work, move or walk normally, or bathe or dress without assistance, you could potentially sue. In order to do so, however, you will need to provide documentation from your doctor demonstrating the degree to which you were incapacitated. To simply testify that you were in too much pain to work will not be sufficient. As you can imagine, the best course of action in these types of cases is to work with a New York car accident lawyer. This is especially true if your injuries are in a “grey area.” A good attorney will have the knowledge and experience to potentially show the court that your injuries qualify as severe.
Steps to Take After a Serious Accident
The most important thing you can do after an accident is to seek medical help immediately. This will not only improve your chances of a full recovery, but can be incredibly important to filing insurance claims and lawsuits for your injuries.
If you wait too long to seek medical help, it could negatively impact your insurance claim. It is all too common to not recognize immediately that an injury is serious, only to discover later that it is. But in order to receive compensation, you need to prove that an injury was caused by the accident; if you wait, the insurer could try to attribute your injuries to another cause.
In addition, since the 90/180 day rule applies only to the first six months of the accident, you don’t want to wait a month or longer to get medical help for an injury that has incapacitated you. This is especially true since you’ll need to provide medical documentation for the full duration of time you were incapacitated.
When to Speak with a Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries in a car accident and you are worried about being fairly compensated or unsure about whether your injuries will be considered serious from a legal perspective, Buttafuoco & Associates offers free case evaluations where we review your circumstances in detail. We have helped many victims of serious accidents recover fair compensation for their injuries and treatment and we may be able to help you, too.
To find out more about how best to handle your situation, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-NOW-HURT.