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Staten Island No Fault Insurance Lawyer 

Hurt in a Car Accident? Call an Experienced Staten Island No Fault Insurance Lawyer for Help With Your Case 

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States. In fact, there are approximately 6.1 million injury-causing traffic accidents every year. Right here in New York City, there are approximately 100,000 accidents each year with over 5,000 crashes in just Staten Island. This is one of the reasons why New York State, like all other states, has enacted legislation that requires motorists to obtain auto insurance. Such insurance covers bodily injury and property damage in the event of a crash. However, unlike most states, New York has enacted a “no-fault” insurance system. Although the intent of the system is to help obtain quick compensation for medical bills and lost wages, it can limit compensation for pain and suffering unless certain exceptions are met. Therefore, anytime a person is injured in a New York car accident, a Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer should be contacted for help with a claim.

Here at the O’Connor Law Firm, we understand how complicated the no-fault insurance system can be for victims and their families. This is particularly true if victims have suffered serious and debilitating injuries that keep them out of work, and therefore unable to focus on tasks such as the extensive paperwork required in a no fault claim. However, our compassionate legal team can help victims and their families navigate the complex matrix of no fault laws and insurance carrier rules, helping to maximize a potential recovery. To learn more about how our Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer can help you and your family, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation and consultation.


Types of Auto Insurance in the United States

Generally, there are two types of auto insurance. The first is known as “No Fault” insurance, which is what New York has adopted. This type of auto insurance requires motorists to maintain a minimum amount of coverage which is automatically used to help pay for medical bills and lost wages in the event of an accident. Following an accident, victims turn to their insurance carrier for compensation. As the name implies, a victim does not need to establish fault in order to get compensation. Rather, the New York law requires carriers to immediately pay out claims and then allows carriers to seek reimbursement from the at-fault party (sometimes done without a victim even knowing it is taking place). There are some instances where a victim is able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver, which often results in a settlement demand or the commencement of litigation.

The second type is known as “At Fault” insurance. Unlike no fault, victims of a motor vehicle accident turn to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier for reimbursement and compensation. Although states adopting this type of insurance scheme require carriers to fairly and effectively handle claims in a manner that avoids bad faith, that does not always occur. Therefore, most victims in an at-fault insurance state will need to establish a claim through an adversarial process.

It should further be noted that some states will have a hybrid approach or an elective approach. Thus, in some states a motorist can choose to be at-fault and have lower premiums, but also have more exposure to liability. Whereas if a motorist chose no-fault, they would have higher premiums but more protection from liability. In addition, some states give a “reward” to motorists who opt for no-fault insurance, including being able to seek compensation more freely against a defendant who did not opt into no-fault.


No Fault Insurance Requirements in New York

Auto insurance is complicated and there are many different components that go into a policy. Due to this, what may be required in one state is not necessarily required in another state. This is even true of states that use the same type of insurance, meaning that not all states with no fault insurance will have the same requirements as to the amount of coverage or for the type of coverage.

In New York State, the minimum requirements and types of insurance that must be in a no fault policy include the following:


Personal Injury Protection 

Also known as PIP, this is the main component that sets no fault insurance policies apart from at-fault insurance states. This part of a policy pays for medical expenses and bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and other types of expenses that are related to the motor vehicle crash. This type of policy applies to drivers and passengers in a vehicle, as well as a pedestrian or bicyclist who is hit by your vehicle.


Liability Coverage

As the name implies, liability coverage is what pays for damages caused by your vehicle. This includes personal injuries to other individuals, including medical bills, lost wages, lost earnings, and related losses. It also covers property damage caused by your vehicle in the event of an accident.


Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Unlike some other states, New York also requires motorists to obtain an auto insurance policy that covers uninsured motorists. Indeed, it is a sad reality that approximately 13% of all motorists are uninsured, meaning that there is no auto insurance to turn to in the event of a motor vehicle accident. As a result, New York requires motorists to obtain UM as part of their no fault policy to protect themselves from injury.

It is important to note two things. First, this is uninsured coverage and does not provide coverage for damages that are greater than the policy. Meaning that, if a victim sustains personal injuries that are higher than the defendant’s policy, that does not allow a victim to obtain additional compensation.

Rather, that is known as underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), which can be used to fill the gap between coverage and the actual damages. Second, motorists are always able to obtain additional UM and UIM coverage as part of a SUM policy rider, which can be used to fill the gap between a defendant’s policy and actual damages. Our Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer recommends all motorists obtaining SUM coverage of up to at least $100,000, but preferably $300,000 or more – whatever is financially still comfortable for a family.


Amount of the Minimum Requirements

The minimum amounts of coverage that a motorist must obtain on a no fault policy include the following:

  • $25,000 for injuries per person per accident, total $50,000 for injuries per accident for all people involved in the accident
  • $50,000 per person for injuries resulting in death, or total $100,000 per accident for all people sustaining injuries resulting in death
  • $10,000 for property damage per accident

There are the minimum requirements that a motorist must obtain. However, a motorist may always opt for an increased premium to protect themselves from greater liability exposure. Such additional coverage is recommended by our Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer.


How a No Fault Insurance Claim Works

 Following a motor vehicle accident, victims may be confused how the no fault insurance process works. This is particularly true if a victim has suffered serious injuries or has never had to make a no fault claim before. Further, where a defendant is obviously at-fault for a crash, it can always be awkward for a victim to turn to his or her own insurance carrier when it is known who was at fault.

Therefore, after an accident there is how the process works:


First Step: Report and Get Help

A victim who is injured will need to cooperate with the police and medical providers, obtaining medical treatment as appropriate. It is important to report all damage and injuries to the police and medical providers. It is also important to follow through with treatment and go to appointments as appropriate, following the instructions of physicians.


Second Step: Give Notice to No Fault Carrier

A victim will have 30 days to submit a no fault claim to his or her auto insurance carrier. This is a standard form that each provider requires. Even though this is the victim’s insurer, that does not mean that an adjuster will immediately try to minimize a claim and the compensation available. Unfortunately, even a victim’s own insurance carrier will try to see if an exception to coverage applies. This includes a pre-existing injury, due to drunk driving, racing, in the commission of a felony, or another exception to coverage. Thus, victims should be careful what they report to their carrier and, ideally, obtain an experienced Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer to help them.


Third Step: Comply with Requests and Cooperate

Once a claim has been made, a victim will need to comply with requests from the carrier. This includes for information related to the accident, medical bills, witnesses, and other information. The information which is provided can be used to help reimburse losses for a victim and his or her family. Such reimbursement through a no fault policy includes compensation for the following:

  • All reasonable and necessary medical bills, including for rehabilitation like physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other treatment or surgeries.
  • 80% of lost wages, up to a maximum of $2,000 per month for up to three years
  • Up to $25 per day for up to a maximum of one year, to reimburse for reasonable and necessary expenses such as household help, transportation to treatment, and related expenses.


New York Insurance Law 5102(d) and The Serious Injury Threshold

After the basic no fault coverage is exhausted, a victim generally cannot seek compensation from a defendant unless a victim has sustained what is known as a “serious injury.” Although all injuries to our bodies that are life-changing and affect our family are serious, the term “serious injury” is a very specific one that is defined under New York Insurance section 5102 (d). According to the Insurance Law, is only where a victim has sustained a “serious injury” that he or she will be able to recover compensation from the defendant for non-economic loss (pain and suffering). There is another exception for basic economic loss exceeding $50,000, but serious injury is the most common grounds to commence a legal action.

The types of injuries that are defined as a “serious injury” under the Insurance Law include the following:

  • Death – generally the easiest to prove, a wrongful death claim should always be handled by an experienced Staten Island lawyer
  • Dismemberment – including amputations
  • Significant disfigurement – subjective and can be difficult to prove, until the injuries are significant and match other cases
  • Fracture – generally the most common and easiest to prove through an x-ray
  • Loss of a fetus – generally easy to prove if it occurs near the accident, but can be complicated if the loss is not immediately following a crash
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system – commonly claimed, and most commonly contested by a defendant
  • Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member – also commonly claimed and commonly contested by a defendant
  • A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature that prevented the victim from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute the victim’s usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 days out of the first 180 immediately following the accident – this is a catch all which is commonly plead and commonly contested, especially if losses are only for the inability to work.

Unfortunately, even where a victim has sustained an obvious serious injury, insurance adjusters and defendants will still not fairly compensate a victim and his or her family. Claims such as a pre-existing injury are often contested, especially for back injuries, to minimize or even defeat a claim. Don’t let this happen to you, hire an experienced Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer to protect your rights to compensation.


Unsure of the No Fault Process After a New York Car Accident? Call Our Staten Island No Fault Insurance Lawyer Today

The O’Connor Law Firm handles catastrophic personal injury cases throughout New York City, Long Island, northern New Jersey, and especially right here in Staten Island. Whether you or a loved one know that you have a serious injury or are unsure, call our bodily injury law firm to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights to compensation. We can help you understand what your rights are and what compensation you may be entitled to under the law.

Serious injury cases under no fault is very complicated, even causing confusion among lawyers and courts. That’s why it is imperative that victims and their families call an experienced Staten Island no fault insurance lawyer such as ours to represent them. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today by dialing (718)-948-3500 or by sending us an email through our “Contact Us” box available here.