When car crashes happen on Long Island, injured parties generally receive compensation for basic economic losses, such as medical expenses and some lost wages, through their own insurance policy coverage, regardless of who caused the collision. However, if damages exceed the available coverage or if pain and suffering are recoverable, the insurance coverage for whoever caused the crash pays.
Here we shall review the intricacies of New York laws that dictate compensation in collisions on Long Island.
Crashes Happen for Many Reasons
Whether you are enjoying a drive on Old Montauk Highway or jammed in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, a car crash can happen for any of a myriad of reasons, and someone has to pay for resulting injuries and other losses.
Some causes of collisions include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Inclement weather
- Running stop signs or red lights
- Nighttime driving
- Vehicle malfunctions/defects
- Improper turns
- Driving the wrong way
Our law firm investigates clients’ motor vehicle collisions to determine what happened and who was at fault.
New York Operates on a “No-Fault” System
New York requires all drivers to carry no-fault insurance. The New York Department of Financial Services establishes that a driver must purchase the following to register a motor vehicle and get license plates:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage: To pay your basic medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses necessary because of your injury
- Liability coverage: To pay for damages another person suffers because of your negligent actions as a driver
- Uninsured motorists coverage: To pay for losses you suffered that a negligent party would have had to pay if they were insured
Third-Party Claims Circumvent PIP Limitations
Based on the no-fault system, if you sustain injuries in a car crash, your PIP policy covers up to $50,000. If your losses exceed this amount – which often is the case with a collision injury – you can pursue a case against the liable third party. A third-party action also enables you to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, which you would not be able to recover from a PIP claim.
Requirements for Pursuing a Third-Party Compensation
New York law permits you to pursue compensation from the party whose negligence caused your car crash if:
- You suffered serious injuries in a car crash on Long Island, or
- Your medical expenses and other personal injury damages exceed $50,000
However, you must prove the other party’s negligence. Under New York law, our car collision lawyers establish negligence by proving:
- Duty of care: The other party had a legal duty to act in a way that a reasonable person would act in similar circumstances to keep you safe.
- Breach of duty: The other party violated this legal responsibility.
- Causation: This violation of duty caused you to suffer an injury.
- Damages: This injury caused you to sustain economic and non-economic losses, and you could recover compensation for their losses.
Who Is Financially Liable in a Crash When More Than One Party is at Fault?
CPLR § 1411 accounts for injurious incidents where you may be partly at fault. This is called contributory negligence. The state approaches situations of contributory negligence with the rules of “pure comparative fault.”
This means that if you were partially to blame for your motor vehicle collision, you could still recover damages. Your compensation, however, will reflect the degree to which you contributed to the crash.
This rule also applies to wrongful death actions. If your loved one died from the injuries they sustained in a collision, but your loved one’s actions contributed to the incident, surviving family members could still pursue damages.
How Comparative Negligence Rules Affect Your Compensation
Consider a scenario in which Driver A is weaving in and out of lanes on Farmingdale Road. Driver B is driving safely, but they take their eyes off the road momentarily to check directions on their GPS. Driver A suddenly moves into Driver B’s lane, and in the process, the side of Driver A’s car swipes the side of Driver B’s car.
In this hypothetical crash, both parties share blame for the collision. A jury would review all the factors and assign a percentage of fault to each party. In making these determinations, the jury would consider that Driver B contributed to the crash with their distracted driving.
The jury would also consider the fact that Driver A:
- Was driving recklessly
- Did not signal before changing lanes
- Failed to check their blind spot before changing lanes
How Percentage of Fault Affects Recoverable Damages
To continue the hypothetical scenario, assume that Driver B suffers losses of $100,000. The jury assigned Driver B 10 percent of the fault for the auto collision. This means that Driver B would receive 10 percent less than their total damages – $90,000.
This assignment of contributory fault also means that Driver B is 10 percent liable for Driver A’s damages. If Driver B suffered damages of $100,000, Driver A would be liable for $10,000.
It is easy to see how Long Island’s adoption of pure comparative fault rules can quickly impact the compensation an injured person could receive after a car crash.
Investigations Play a Crucial Role in Determining Fault
When an injured party hires our law firm to represent them after a collision, we conduct our own investigation of the crash. Our goal is to gather as much evidence as possible to diminish your liability and increase your compensation.
Toward this end, our lawyers can:
- Visit the collision scene
- Interview witnesses
- Obtain the police report
- Work with crash reconstruction specialists
- Review footage from traffic signal cameras and/or nearby surveillance cameras
The Other Party Could Pay for Your Long Island Car Collision Compensation
Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P.’s team of lawyers is here to help you navigate New York’s complex compensation laws. Remember that pain and suffering are real losses after a serious injury, and a third-party action could see that you receive compensation for this loss.
Call Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. today for a free case review. We serve all of Long Island and the five boroughs, and we can assist you in Spanish.