New York is among a handful of no-fault insurance states in the country. In “fender-bender” collisions that involve limited personal injury and property damage, victims may file claims against their own insurance companies for economic losses, including property damage, lost wages, and medical bills.
This system is designed to expedite these claims, keep them out of the court system and help ensure their settlement on consumer-friendly terms. Whether or not New York’s version of the no-fault law accomplishes these goals is largely a matter of opinion.
Under Article 51 of the New York Insurance Law, car crash victims on Long Island are often entitled to additional compensation for their noneconomic damages. This category includes intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (companionship and contribution to household affairs).
A serious injury is defined as:
Some types of accidents, such as motorcycle crashes, are automatically exempt from the no-fault law.
Consumers may purchase additional insurance that protects them if they are in a crash with a tortfeasor (negligent driver) who has inadequate financial responsibility. At first blush, additional uninsured motorist coverage (which is also called accident uninsurance coverage or AUC) may seem unnecessary in New York, because the Empire State has one of the lowest percentages of uninsured drivers in the country and the state minimum includes $25,000 of UIM coverage.
But a closer look tells a different story. The uninsured motorist figure does not include the number of underinsured motorists who have the legally required minimum coverage but do not have enough insurance to cover all the victim’s losses. And, an additional $50,000 or $75,000 of UIM coverage will probably only be an extra few dollars a month.
The additional UIM can make up the difference between the tortfeasor’s policy limits and your damages, so you do not pay out of pocket for some economic losses or settle for less than fair compensation for your noneconomic damages. In most cases, if there is a dispute regarding UIM coverage, the matter goes to binding arbitration instead of trial.
Drivers need to be aware of the unique auto insurance laws in New York. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury attorney in Long Island, contact the Law Office of Cohen and Jaffe, LLP today. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.