How to File a Car Accident Claim in New York

Know How To Protect Your Rights

You’ve just been involved in an accident. Your car is damaged, you may be hurt, and are wondering what to do next.

In these situations, you have options. Under most circumstances, you can file an injury claim with your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy, covering your medical expenses. Vehicle repairs and personal property replacement can be handled through a claim with an at-fault driver’s Property Damage Liability (PDL) policy.

In cases where you have a serious injury or accident-related medical costs exceeding $50,000, you have the option to seek a third-party Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) claim against any at-fault parties.

To make the process run smoothly, work with an experienced Long Island car accident lawyer. Consultations are always free, and there’s no obligation or risk to you, so call 631-543-7070 or contact us online to schedule an appointment now.

This guide will help you understand more about the accident claims process, including what actions you can take to increase the chances you will be compensated for all of your damages.

Always Report the Accident

No matter what the situation, there should always be an official record of your accident. Without an accident report, insurers may be unable to review your claim, let alone pay a reasonable settlement.

New York law requires individuals involved in an accident to file a report if there are total property damage exceeding $1,000, or if there is personal injuries or a death involved (NYCL VAT §605). These rules apply even if you are the only one involved in the accident.

Regardless of whether or not your collision might meet these requirements, call your local precinct or dial 911 to report your wreck. Request an ambulance for anyone hurt, and make sure a police officer files a form MV-104a (Police Accident Report) as official documentation of your car accident.

Seek Medical Attention

If you were involved in a collision of any level of severity, then you should have a full medical exam to diagnose any possible injuries.

Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is critical for two reasons. First, it increases the chances your condition will be diagnosed and treated, reducing the risks of long-term negative effects. Second, your diagnosis serves as proof of your injuries, and medical records connect your injuries to your accident.

Always tell your provider that the reason you are seeking treatment is related to a car accident. This ensures that the documentation will mention the cause and the medical provider will be prepared for the insurance filing process.

Contact Your Insurance Company (But Consider Hiring an Attorney First)

New York’s “no-fault” insurance system requires $50,000 in PIP coverage for all owners of registered vehicles. In most situations, your PIP coverage will provide all the reimbursement you need for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs.

Contact your own insurance carrier to let them know of the accident and that you have injuries (or possible injuries). Avoid commenting on the details of the accident or providing a firm medical diagnosis. Both need to be investigated before all information is shared.

In situations where you have severe injuries or might have been at fault for the accident, you may need to contact additional insurance providers. Your liability insurance coverage will get involved if you could be considered at fault for the accident and someone else sustained a possible serious injury. The liability insurance company of the other driver(s) may get involved if you have a serious injury or your costs exceed $50,000.

In any event, it may be in your best interest to speak with an experienced car accident attorney on Long Island before you speak to insurance companies.  A lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that affect a possible injury claim – including one that may be filed against you.

File Notice of a Claim Within 30 Days of the Accident

Your PIP insurance provider requires a written application within 30 days of the accident. Some exceptions may be made, but you will need to, “submit written proof providing clear and reasonable justification for late filing,” according to the NY Dept. of Financial Services.

If you have sustained a serious injury or may have accident injury costs in excess of $50,000, you will also need to file notice of a claim with the other driver’s Bodily Injury Liability policy as soon as possible.

Filing PIP When You’re in an Accident But Weren’t Driving

The following scenarios illustrate which PIP policy is most appropriate given the situation in which the accident occurred:

●     If you were a passenger, file under the PIP insurance policy of the driver whose vehicle you were in at the time of the accident.

●     If you were a pedestrian or other non-motorist, file under the PIP of the driver who hit you.

●     If you were a passenger in an accident that occurred outside of New York state, file under your host driver’s policy and your own PIP policy.

●     If you were on a bus at the time the accident occurred, file under your own PIP insurance, if available, or the policy of someone who lives in your household. If neither is an option, the bus operator will provide coverage.

●     If you nor anyone in your household has PIP and you were hit by an uninsured driver or were involved in a hit and run, file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).

Provide Proof of Damages and Assess Your Total Claim Value

proof of damages

Notice of a claim is just that – notice. The insurer you file with will respond within five days with an Application for Benefits for you to complete. It is best to have the help of one of our experience accident lawyers when completing any of this paperwork. 

When you receive medical treatment, always have the medical provider bill directly to the PIP (No Fault) carrier.

PIP will also help cover out-of-pocket expenses and other necessary treatment items, such as prescriptions, medical devices, and even the cost of transportation to your appointments.

Lost wages can be included as part of your claim if your injuries cause you to miss work. You can calculate the value of lost wages by subtracting your current earnings from your average income over the past several months, allowing you to claim the difference.

Be thorough when documenting costs, since these will dictate the ultimate value of your claim. Working with a Long Island car accident lawyer can help you avoid overlooking common damages, such as the cost of future rehabilitation and treatment.

Receive Complete Reimbursement or Notice of Dispute Within 30 Days

Insurers are required to respond to your application of benefits within 30 days. Their response can be notice of payment or notice of claim denial in part or in full.

Disputing Your Claim and Filing a Possible Lawsuit

If the insurer performs any action other than agreeing to pay for the total cost of your accident damages, speak to an experienced Long Island car accident attorney as soon as possible. You must respond promptly and justify coverage for specific damages. An attorney can assist you with reading the language of your policy and responding to any reasoning insurers use to avoid covering your losses.

You have the right to a no-fault arbitration hearing or to file a civil complaint (lawsuit) if the insurance company refuses to pay all legally justifiable claimed losses. Your attorney can assist you with negotiations and provide a strong legal basis for your dispute. If your case advances to a trial, your attorney will be prepared to present your case in an open court.

Work With Experienced Long Island Car Accident Attorneys

If at any point during the claims process you want assistance, are worried about insurance representatives, or feel as if you need to assert your legal rights, Carner & DeVita is here to help. For over 60 years, our firm has assisted individuals on Long Island who are concerned about getting compensation for their injury damages. We can provide you with a confident, experienced car accident lawyer on Long Island to help you with your claim.


Call 631-543-7070 or contact us online. You will be put in touch with a lawyer who is ready to listen to you and to help assert your rights to the extent legally possible.