Car accidents are incredibly common in New York, and while most expect to be involved in an accident as a driver, it is likely to be injured as a passenger. However, passengers injured in a car accident might need help knowing how to recover damages for their injuries.
Fortunately, an experienced New York car accident lawyer can help you navigate the challenging road to compensation. New York practices no-fault rules, meaning injured passengers generally need to go through insurance for compensation first. However, no-fault rules also prevent many victims from filing a lawsuit for damages. Passengers who sustained serious injuries, though, can sue a negligent driver for their injuries.
If you were an injured passenger in a car accident, our Westchester car accident lawyers can explain the compensation options available in your case. For a free case assessment, contact The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.
Can I Recover Compensation If I Was a Passenger Injured in a New York Car Accident?
New York is considered a no-fault state for car accident purposes. This means that every driver must carry no-fault insurance to cover their injuries in the event of an accident, commonly known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. The term “no-fault” means that victims injured in a car accident do not need to prove fault to recover compensation. The good news is that a driver’s PIP insurance covers the driver and any passengers they were carrying injured in the accident.
However, you will typically have several insurance options for compensation besides just the driver you were riding with. You can usually file a claim with your own PIP insurance and the other driver’s insurance to recover additional benefits. Unfortunately, New York’s no-fault rules limit an injured passenger’s right to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver. Unless you suffered a serious injury in the accident, you would need to pursue compensation through the insurance options available.
The Driver’s Insurance
The first option to recover compensation for your injuries sustained as a passenger is to file a no-fault insurance claim through the PIP insurance of the driver you were riding with. Remember, because New York is a no-fault state, it does not matter who was at fault for the accident. Generally, you will always seek insurance benefits first from your driver’s insurance.
However, insurance policies have limits that might not be high enough to cover a passenger’s injuries. Compensation can run out especially quickly if there are multiple passengers in the car since they will likely file a claim, as well. If the driver you were with does not have insurance coverage sufficient to reimburse you, you can turn to other insurance options to recover the remaining damages.
Your Own Insurance
If you have remaining expenses after exhausting the driver’s no-fault insurance, your own policy could be available to cover the remaining damages. However, in most cases, you will need to have elected for MedPay or PIP benefits on your insurance policy to recover additional damages.
The Other Driver’s Insurance
Lastly, you could file a claim against the other driver’s PIP insurance. It can be challenging to recover compensation from the other driver’s insurance, and it is usually the last option to get additional damages before turning to the court for relief. Our Mount Vernon car accident lawyers can review your case to help you determine the compensation options available to you and if a lawsuit is the appropriate next step.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against the Negligent Driver as an Injured Passenger in a New York Car Accident?
As mentioned, New York’s no-fault rules prevent most passengers injured in a car accident from filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, insurance benefits might not come close to compensating a victim for their injuries if they were serious. Fortunately, New York does allow victims who have suffered serious injuries in a car accident to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
New York’s Serious Injury Threshold
To overcome the “serious injury” threshold to file a car accident lawsuit in New York, you will need to provide evidence that you suffered one of the serious injuries listed in I.S.C. Law § 5102(d):
- Broken Bones
- Permanent or significant loss of a body function or system
- Any injury that prevents you from performing normal functions for 90 out of the first 180 days following an accident
Some serious injuries are not too difficult to prove. However, proving the last two types of serious injuries could require much evidence to overcome the threshold.
What If My Friend was the Driver Who Caused My Injuries?
In some cases, you might need to sue the driver you were with if they negligently caused your injuries. This can prove a difficult choice since, in many cases, the driver is a friend or family member. This can be embarrassing for all parties, and it makes sense that you would want to proceed cautiously. But if a total stranger can recover compensation from your friend or family member for their negligence, would it not be fair for you to also recover for your damages that were caused through no fault of your own? Our White Plains car accident lawyers can help you determine if your injuries were serious enough to file a lawsuit and help you navigate a difficult situation if it involves suing someone you care about.
Types of Compensation Available to Injured Passengers in a New York Car Accident
Compensation for your damages can typically be split into two categories, economic and non-economic. Calculating these damages can be challenging. While adding up your expenses paid to treat your injuries up to that point is not too difficult, calculating your future losses takes more time and expertise to determine accurately. Proving non-economic damages can be even more challenging since they are based on the subjective experiences you have endured because of your injuries. The following are common types of damages that are awarded to victims in a New York car accident lawsuit:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
Our Yonkers car accident lawyers can help determine the true value of your damages to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.
Our New York Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident and need to learn how to recover compensation, our New Rochelle car accident lawyers at The Martello Law Firm, PLLC are ready to provide you with a free case review. Call us today at (914) 685-6950.