Car accidents can happen to anyone, and when they do, passengers are often left wondering how much compensation they can receive for their injuries and losses. If you’re a passenger involved in a car accident in a no-fault state like New York, the rules governing compensation may be different from those in traditional tort-based systems.
In this blog post, we will explore how much money a passenger in a car accident can get in a no-fault state like New York and discuss the unique aspects of the state’s no-fault insurance system.
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Damages Available in a Car Accident Claim
One of the most significant factors in determining compensation for a passenger in a car accident is the extent of your injuries and associated medical expenses. You can typically claim compensation for:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor’s visits
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Medical equipment (e.g., crutches, braces)
- Future medical expenses related to your injuries
If your injuries have caused you to miss work, you can seek compensation for lost wages. Additionally, if your injuries result in a long-term or permanent disability that affects your ability to work, you may be eligible for compensation for future lost earnings and diminished earning capacity.
Understanding New York’s No-Fault Insurance System
New York is one of several states in the United States that has adopted a no-fault insurance system. This system is designed to simplify the process of obtaining compensation for injuries resulting from car accidents, regardless of who is at fault. In New York, all drivers are required to carry no-fault insurance coverage, also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP covers the cost of each driver’s own, and any of their passengers’, accident-related medical bills and related expenses.
Basic PIP Benefits in New York:
New York requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 bodily injury liability per person and $50,000 death per person. As a passenger involved in a car accident in New York, you can generally expect to receive basic PIP benefits. These benefits typically include coverage for:
- Medical expenses: PIP will cover necessary medical treatment related to the accident, including hospital bills, doctor’s visits, surgery, rehabilitation, and diagnostic tests.
- Lost wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, PIP can compensate you for a portion of your lost income, up to a certain limit.
- Essential services: PIP may also cover expenses related to essential services you require due to your injuries, such as childcare or household chores.
Limitations on Non-Economic Damages:
One significant difference in no-fault states like New York is the limitation on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and inconvenience. In traditional tort-based systems, passengers often have the option to file lawsuits against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to seek compensation for these non-economic damages. However, in New York’s no-fault system, pursuing such claims can be more challenging and it is recommended that those who wish to pursue compensation through a third-party claim retain legal representation.
Threshold for Suing for Additional Compensation:
New York has a threshold that must be met in order to file a lawsuit for additional compensation beyond basic PIP benefits. To pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for non-economic damages, your injuries must meet certain criteria, such as a significant disfigurement, a fracture, or significant limitations in the use of a body organ, member, function, or system..
Determining the worth of your claim
When determining the worth of your claim, there are several factors that lawyers will consider. These factors can determine whether a lawyer will even accept your claim or not.
The severity of your injuries
One of the most crucial factors in your case is how severe your injuries are. Judges and jurors are more prone to reward greater compensation to victims who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are injuries that cause victims to experience permanent disabilities.
The chances of recovering from these injuries are slim to none, which is why you are entitled to larger compensation amounts. If you suffer minor or moderate injuries, you can still be rewarded compensation, but it will not be as high as the compensation for catastrophic injuries.
Possibility of recovery
Another factor determining the worth of your claim is whether you will fully recover from your injuries. Because you will be required to pay for medical expenses for the rest of your life, depending on the severity of your injury, judges and jurors will reward higher compensation to victims with little chance of recovery. The less likely it is that you will recover from your injuries, the more likely you can receive higher compensation for your claim.
Impact of your injuries moving forward
Another important factor lawyers will consider when determining the worth of your claim is how your injuries will affect the rest of your life. Referring back to catastrophic injuries, are injuries that will impact every aspect of your life.
The job you can work, the hobbies you can enjoy, the amount of time you can spend with family and friends, and even your mental health can be substantially affected by your catastrophic injury. Compared to minor or moderate injuries that will only impact you for a temporary amount of time, the worth of your claim is guaranteed to increase.
Hiring a car accident lawyer for your car accident case
Even if you do not want your lawsuit to progress into a trial, hiring a lawyer can improve your chances of recovering fair compensation. Lawyers do more than just argue in court. Depending on when you reach out to a lawyer, he or she can add value to your lawsuit from beginning to end. Here are some of the benefits that lawyers can bring to your claim.
Calculating your damages
Your lawyer can evaluate the worth of your claim and bring some clarity to how much you can receive for your damages. Instead of relying on the statements made by insurance adjusters about your damages, a lawyer can assess each damage and determine what each one is worth. Lawyers can even include damages you may not consider in your claim.
Fighting for your just compensation
Lawyers can help you fight properly for your just compensation. As a passenger in a car accident, you will already be fighting opinions about whether or not you deserve compensation.
Insurance companies will use this attitude to their advantage and point out all discrepancies in your claim. Insurance companies will also resort to dirty tactics that paint you as a liar at best and an opportunist at worst. Lawyers are familiar with the dirty tactics that insurance companies use and can advise you on how to proceed accordingly.
Providing quality legal advice
Some of the best advice lawyers offer is to limit your communication with insurance companies. If insurance adjusters tell you that you are required to speak with them without your attorney, they are lying to you. You can let insurance adjusters know to get in touch with your attorney from now on if they keep harassing you.
More advice that will benefit your lawsuit: Monitor your social media profiles and your activity around town more carefully. Insurance adjusters will use your information against you if you allow them. It is common for insurance adjusters to follow you around town and take pictures of you performing contradictory tasks like playing a physically demanding sport.
Representing you in court
Even though your no-fault insurance claim may result in a settlement, insurance companies can try to stall your claim by refusing to compromise with you. Your lawyer will allow your claim to proceed to trial when you are in this predicament. Taking your claim to trial benefits you for several reasons.
During a trial, you might recover more forms of compensation, such as punitive damages. That means that if the other driver’s actions were so grossly negligent, the judge will order them to reward you with punitive damage that the driver will have to pay. This prevents not only the other driver but other drivers in the future from committing the same acts.
Another benefit is that insurance companies may quickly reach a settlement agreement when a trial is in session. Insurance companies know that you are more likely to seek empathy from either the judge or a jury and have a greater chance of being rewarded your compensation. It is common for insurance companies to reconsider your settlement demands when your trial is closing.
Speak with an experienced car accident lawyer today
As a passenger in a car accident, you deserve to receive just compensation from a car accident. You have the right to exercise your legal rights and seek compensation from the negligent driver who caused your accident. Call an experienced personal injury attorney today to schedule a free consultation.