Going to court for a car accident lawsuit is not always easy. New York puts up barriers to suing for damages after a car accident, but when you do get the opportunity to sue, there are a wide range of damages you can seek compensation for.
First, you can sue for compensatory damages – that is, any damages that pay you back for what happened to you. That can include both economic damages – like medical bills and wages from missed work – as well as non-economic damages – like pain and suffering. In some cases, you might be able to claim additional damages called punitive damages to punish the defendant for what they did. However, you cannot do any of that or even file a lawsuit unless you meet certain thresholds first.
For help with your NY car accident case, call The Martello Law Firm at (914) 685-6950 for a free case evaluation.
When You Can Sue for Damages in a NY Car Accident Case
In order to file a lawsuit for a car accident case in the first place, your injuries must meet a certain threshold. If they do not, you can only file an insurance claim with your own insurance company, and you will miss out on certain areas of damages.
This threshold is known as the “serious injury threshold,” and it is defined in I.S.C. § 5102(d) to include broken bones, permanent injuries, permanent loss of function, and any injury lasting 90 of the next 180 days. Death and loss of a fetus also count for family members to sue for those losses.
If you meet this threshold, you can file a third-party insurance claim or a lawsuit to get compensation that goes above and beyond what your insurance might cover. No-fault insurance in New York only covers a certain amount of medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic damages, all with limitations on coverage. It does not cover any “pain and suffering” or other non-economic damages.
Coverage for vehicle damage is a little tricky because it can be claimed in a third-party insurance claim even if you do not meet the serious injury threshold. This is because vehicle damage is not included in the no-fault system, though your insurance policy might have enhanced coverage to deal with this.
Damages You Can Include in a NY Car Accident Injury Lawsuit
When you are injured, it is important to work with a NY car accident lawyer and include all damages that are available in your lawsuit. If you miss out on any areas of damages – or the insurance company under-values your damages – you could be left with insufficient coverage.
All in all, the following areas of compensation should all be available in a car accident claim in NY:
Damages for all medical care, mental health care, rehabilitation, and other services should be included in your lawsuit. While insurance might cover a portion of these damages, you can claim the rest in a lawsuit. Your insurance company might claw back some of these damages if you already got paid by them and then get compensation again in a lawsuit, but you should nonetheless end up with higher coverage than your insurance alone would have provided if your lawsuit indeed pays full compensation.
Always work with a lawyer, even when calculating medical expenses. There are damages that people often fail to include, such as the cost of mental health care related to the accident and its effects. Also, knowing what you can and cannot claim damages for regarding future healthcare needs is something our attorneys can help you with.
If your injuries make it that you cannot go to work, then your lost wages should be part of your lawsuit as well. These are especially important damages as they can mean the difference between still being able to afford rent/mortgage payments, groceries, and other expenses and potentially losing everything because you cannot work.
However, there are huge complications with calculating these lost wages. If you were injured then went back to work after a time at full capacity and got your full wages again, damages are easy enough to calculate. However, if you will be kept out of work for a long while or now face permanent disabilities that will reduce your working ability for the rest of your life, we will need to project how that will affect your lifetime income.
Pain and Suffering
Damages for “pain and suffering” are usually paid to account for all “non-economic” damages you can claim in an injury case. In your car accident case, this could mean more than just damages for your physical pain, but also damages for the mental and emotional distress you face because of the accident. That can mean fear of a future accident, PTSD-like symptoms, distress at an amputation or permanent injury, and other complex feelings. You can also get damages for substantial scarring and other visible injuries.
As these are non-economic damages, there are no bills or financial statements saying how much these damages are worth. It is up to your lawyers to help you calculate a fair claim for pain and suffering.
Claiming Punitive Damages in a NY Car Accident Case
Punitive damages are hard to get in some cases and usually require a showing of serious wrongdoing on the part of the at-fault driver. However, when bus companies, trucking companies, taxi companies, or other transportation companies are involved, there are often patterns of serious negligence that can warrant punitive damages.
Punitive damages are paid not to pay you back for injuries, but to punish the defendant for what they did to you. As such, the value of these damages will focus on how bad their actions were and how much money they have, choosing a value that is sufficient to punish them.
Call Our NY Car Accident Lawyers for Help Today
Call (914) 685-6950 today for a free case evaluation with the Westchester, NY car accident attorneys at The Martello Law Firm.