You’ve just been hit by a car. If you made the smart choice of contacting a New York car accident lawyer, probably one of the first things out of your mouth is, “Who do I sue after a car accident?

Sometimes, identifying who is liable in a car accident can be tricky. With the help of a Suffolk County car accident lawyer, though, you can file your suit and get the money you need to fix your car and take care of your medical treatment.

Suing the at-fault driver in New York

No-fault car insurance 

Along with 11 other states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, New York follows a no-fault car insurance system, making litigation acceptable only in certain circumstances. This type of insurance moves claims along swiftly, helping prevent small claims from clogging the court system.

If you were injured in a car accident in New York, your insurance company will pay for medical bills and lost income out of your personal injury protection coverage, regardless of who was at fault. You can only sue the at-fault driver if your injuries meet New York’s serious injury threshold or if your economic losses exceed $50,000.

New York State defines a “serious injury” as any of the following:

  • Death
  • Bone fracture (break)
  • Dismemberment
  • Loss of pregnancy
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Permanent limitation of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, or function 
  • Non-permanent injury or impairment that causes full disability for no less than 90 days.

If you were seriously injured or experienced significant financial losses from a car accident that was not your fault, contact a Long Island auto accident lawyer. Carner & DeVita will evaluate your case and help you decide whether you should accept a settlement or pursue litigation.

What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance?

The driver who caused the accident is still responsible for the damage they caused, so without insurance, they could be personally liable. So, the answer to, “Can I sue the person who hit my car?” is yes.

You can also use your uninsured motorist policy and your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy to cover your expenses.

What if I’m partly responsible for the crash?

The rule of comparative negligence kicks in when the plaintiff and defendant each share a portion of the blame in a car accident case.

Under New York comparative negligence law, the plaintiff’s compensation will be reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault.

For example, a jury decides to award you with $500,000 in damages. However, they also decide that you were 20% responsible for the accident. The ultimate award will then be $400,000 – a 20% reduction from the original $500,000.

In New York, even if you are found to be 95% responsible for a car accident, you are still entitled to 5% compensation under the rule of comparative negligence. That does mean, however, that you will be responsible for 95% of the damages for the other driver.

Who do I sue if there are multiple drivers involved?

You want to know how to sue someone who hit your car, but what if multiple “someones” are involved? Multi-car crashes can be especially tricky to litigate since the drivers involved after the initial crash may not be liable but just unfortunate victims of a domino effect.

The driver who caused the initial crash is one person you can sue. You may sue others, though. Often, someone could be following too closely, and so end up being unable to stop in time to avoid the initial collision. They could be responsible for any injury a subsequent collision causes you.

Who do I sue after a fatal car crash?

If you lost a loved one in a car crash, New York law permits close family members to file a wrongful death suit and a survivorship action to seek compensation for their losses. Legally speaking, the estate administrator of your loved one’s estate is the one to file a suit, and any monies awarded or settlements will go to the estate, and then distributed to the family.

The defendant in a fatal car crash can be any of the defendants in a non-fatal car crash. 

Suing New York State government

Car accidents are not always caused by private parties. Sometimes, an act of negligence by a branch of government can lead to bodily injury and property damage. An individual can sue the government for negligence the same way they would a private party.

Claims against the State government in New York are governed by the New York Court of Claims Act, a section of which explains that the State “waives its immunity from liability and action and hereby assumes liability.”

Below are two circumstances where an individual may file a lawsuit against the government of New York:

  • Poorly designed or improperly maintained roads that lead to vehicle damage or injury.
  • Government vehicles that collide with a private party’s vehicle due to reckless or distracted driving.

Hurt in a car crash in New York? We can help.

New York litigation laws are not always straightforward; it’s difficult for individuals to decide whether or not they can sue at-fault drivers under a no-fault system.

Carner & DeVita take the guesswork out for you: we will thoroughly evaluate your unique circumstances and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Our Long Island auto accident lawyers will negotiate with insurance companies and other parties to ensure that you receive the money you need for medical bills, lost income, and other expenses.

Call Carner & DeVita at (631) 543-7070 or contact us online today.