Auto Accidents


When can I sue for personal injury?

You retain the right to sue a negligent operator and owner of a covered vehicle for personal injury loses if you suffer a “serious injury” as defined by the insurance law.

A “Serious injury” means a personal injury which results in death; disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of a body organ, member, function or system; permamnent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing  substantially – all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred and eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

What is no-fault insurance?

Under New York State’s compulsory no-fault automobile insurance law, persons injured in a motor vehicle accident are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in benefits provided they were not intoxicated, drugged, or engaged in other specified criminal or anti-social behavior.

These benefits do not cover claims for pain and suffering and only apply to pecuniary losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses. These benefits are payable regardless of who was to blame for the accident.

30 Day Rule: All/no-fault claims must be files within 30 days of the accident.

What do no-fault benefits cover?

  • All necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost earnings up to $2,000 per month for up to three years from the date of the accident. There is a 20% reduction of actual lost earnings.
  • Up to $25 per day is available for one year after the accident for other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred because of the accident, such as the cost of hiring a housekeeper to perform the household services usually performed by the injured person.

Am I entitled to no-fault benefits if I am a passenger in an accident?

Yes. Generally the no-fault coverage follows the vehicle. You will want to make a no-fault claim on the policy covering the vehicle which you were riding in at the time of the accident.

What if the other driver is uninsured?

If the other driver is uninsured, claims for damages to your vehicle will still be covered by your won collision or comprehensive insurance policy, if you have one. In addition, your no0fault coverage will cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses up to the first $50,000.

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, contact your insurance company and attorney immediately. You may be able to make a claim for your own personal injuries on your own insurance policy.

Ask your insurance company about Uninsured Motorist Protection on your own policy.

For any other questions or concerns, please contact Clenn H. Darnell & Associates, PC, for a free consultation to explore your options.

*Reprinted from New York State Bar Association Legalease Pamphlet.