You were injured in a car accident in New York. You know it wasn’t your fault and want to pursue litigation against the at-fault driver. But before you do, you need to learn several important laws and policies specific to New York: the no-fault insurance law, the statute of limitations, and the rule of comparative negligence.
Understanding these laws will help you decide if you can sue the at-fault driver and whether it’s in your best interest to do so.
Suing an individual 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.
The New York State Bar Association defines a “serious injury” as any of the following:
- Bone fracture (break)
- 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 it is best for you to accept a settlement or pursue litigation.
New York Statute of Limitations
If you wish to pursue litigation against an at-fault driver in New York, there’s a deadline to file your lawsuit. This deadline is called a “statute of limitations,” and it varies between types of injury or damage.
If you try to file a lawsuit after the deadline, your case can be dismissed. That’s why it’s in your best interest to hire a Long Island auto accident lawyer to handle your case. We make sure everything is lined up on time to take the at-fault driver to court.
The New York statutes of limitations concerning car accidents are as follows:
- If a driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian was injured in a car crash and wishes to file a lawsuit, they must do so within three years of the accident.
- If a person wishes to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for the repair or replacement of damaged property, such as their car, they must also do so within three years.
- If someone died as the result of a car accident for which they were not at fault and the family or other representative of the deceased wishes to file a lawsuit, they must do so within two years of the person’s death.
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 the 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. They ultimately award you with $400,000 – 20% of 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 damages for the other driver.
Don’t let these figures intimidate you out of filing a lawsuit. Experienced Long Island auto accident lawyers Carner & DeVita know how to strategically file lawsuits for our clients. Call us at (631) 543-7070 or contact us online today for a free consultation.
Suing State Government in New York
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 a branch of government in New York are protected 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.
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 out the guesswork 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.