State law does not cap the amount of compensation available in a motor vehicle accident case. That means there is no limit on how much money a car accident passenger can receive in in New York, contingent on certain insurance policy limits.
Even passengers that exhaust the insurance benefits available could recover the full amount of their damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Passengers have the same right to pursue compensation for their injuries as drivers do in a car accident. An auto accident attorney from our firm could help passengers pursue that fair compensation.
No-Fault Insurance Could Cover Your Medical Expenses
New York is considered a “no-fault” state. Unlike most states, individuals injured in car accidents in New York do not have an inherent right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Instead, every motorist is required to carry no-fault auto insurance. This insurance is designed to cover not just the drivers involved in an accident, but their passengers as well.
Filing a No-Fault Insurance Claim As a Passenger
For that reason, the general rule is that passengers must begin the process of securing compensation by filing a no-fault insurance claim.
Unlike a liability claim, a passenger pursues benefits through a no-fault claim against the policy held by their driver. For example, a passenger injured in an accident while riding with a friend would initially file a claim with their friend’s insurance company. This is the case no matter who was at fault for the accident.
In some cases – like when the passenger is a family member of the driver – they might be covered by the insurance policy directly. The result would be unlikely to change, given the requirement of pursuing a no-fault claim.
There are Downsides to Pursuing No-Fault Insurance Claims
The ability to obtain compensation for your medical bills immediately after an accident is a major benefit of no-fault insurance. Unfortunately, there are some downsides as well. Like every insurance policy, no-fault insurance policies have limits. Once the insurance company reaches those limits, they are under no obligation to pay anything else.
This is especially problematic if there are multiple people injured in the same vehicle. Each person is covered by the same pool of benefits, which means that it’s possible not everyone will be fully compensated for their damages.
In general, an insurance claim may not fully cover an injury victim’s damages no matter what. While your medical bills and lost wages could be covered, non-economic damages may not be, like pain and suffering.
Your Own Insurance Policy Might Cover Some of Your Damages
Your own insurance could also contribute to the financial compensation available after a car accident. If you are covered by auto insurance, that policy follows you even when you are a passenger in another person’s car. If your policy has Medical Payments—or MedPay—coverage, you could be entitled to additional benefits.
In these cases, the no-fault insurance would still provide your primary coverage.
However, if you have remaining medical expenses after the no-fault coverage is exhausted, your own policy might fill in the gaps. You should know that if you only have liability and no-fault insurance coverage, you likely do not have access to MedPay benefits.
Passengers May Be Able to File a Civil Lawsuit Against the Negligent Party
For some passengers injured in a motor vehicle collision, it could be possible to seek financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This is an option if you suffered serious injuries in the collision.
State law provides some guidance on what qualifies as a serious injury. Some examples include broken bones or paralysis. If your injuries qualify, you could ignore the requirement to pursue damages through no-fault insurance claims and file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party. This is beneficial, as it could lead to compensation that might not be available through insurance coverage.
You are not limited in your ability to pursue legal action against the negligent party. You could sue the driver of the vehicle you were traveling in, or the other driver involved in the crash. If negligence played a role in your accident, the at-fault party could face liability for your injuries.
Let Our Firm Help You Pursue Compensation Following Your Accident in New York
An attorney with our firm can answer your questions following a vehicle collision, including how much money a passenger in a New York car accident could receive. Your attorney could work with the insurance companies to recover the benefits you deserve or even pursue a civil lawsuit on your behalf.
The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP is ready to help you fight for fair compensation. In many instances, there are no limits on the amount of compensation available to you. Call (516) 358-6900 now for a free consultation.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900