How Much to Expect from a New York City Car Accident Settlement?

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A car accident in New York City isn’t that different from the rest of the country when it comes to the damage possible. Your vehicle can be totaled, property damage for others can be involved, you may have suffered serious medical injuries, and you may be so hurt, or you can’t work and earn income for a while until you recover. In short, it can be extremely life-changing in a moment and entirely unexpected. It’s also why one of the first people one should call after an accident is a car accident lawyer in NY.

Allowable Damages

Like other states, New York provides within state law the ability to recover when you’ve been injured by someone else, especially in a car accident. That allowance is determined once a claim is filed. The claim can either be made to the responsible party’s insurance company or through the state court. When filed through the state court as a formal lawsuit, car accident compensation rules apply under state law.

The extent of damages possible depends a lot on what a responsible party can cover. New York law requires licensed drivers to have sufficient personal coverage at all times when on public roads. That coverage includes:

  • $50,000 per person injured, regardless of who’s fault it is
  • $25,000 for bodily injury damages and related coverage
  • $50,000 liability protection per person involved
  • $10,000 for property damage liability
  • $25,000 per person or $50,000 per total incident for an uninsured party

The above is the bare minimum. However, drivers can obtain higher coverage if they choose to, which can provide a higher recovery possibility when they are responsible for harming someone else.

New York State’s No-Fault Approach

In some states, the fault is determined in a car accident, and then the accountability in damages is calculated on that. Some only provide a percentage of the total value based on the determined responsibility in a car accident. Others provide for an all-or-nothing decision. New York State has determined its calculation to be based on a no-fault methodology. It requires all claims to go through insurance company providers first via all drivers involved. Drivers can either send the claim to the company responsible or through their own. Any pedestrians involved file their claim with the company covering the vehicle that harmed them. In the uncommon situation where the driver has no insurance, pedestrians can seek coverage through their own car insurance or home insurance, oddly enough. All claims need to be submitted within 30 days of the accident. (The above doesn’t apply to non-car vehicles like motorcycles; at-fault rules still apply).

Proactive Recovery Needs Legal Help

Unfortunately, despite the minimum coverages above, there is no automatic process for an injured party to obtain recovery. In an ideal world, an injured driver or pedestrian would simply file their paperwork, and the insurance provider of the driver at fault would address the matter up to the limits covered. However, in practice, there can be a lot of resistance. Additionally, the damages suffered can be far more than the basic requirements in a driver’s policy, and that may require additional maneuvering to identify and pursue recovery from other resources of the responsible party. This can be quite common with how serious medical injuries can be in bad vehicle accidents. New York applies a serious injury standard to measure the severity of damages involved.

Additionally, injured parties don’t have an open-ended avenue for recovery. New York State applies a limit on how long a legal claim can take to be filed, requiring action within three years. After that, the responsible party can ask the court to dismiss the claim under what is known as the statute of limitations, a very powerful legal defense that blocks open-ended claims. This can also put a procedural limit on what is recovered.

Recovery Calculation Factors

As mentioned above, the actual recovery an injured party actually receives from the responsible parties is influenced by a number of factors. Everything from how hard a claim is pursued to the type of injuries that occur impacts the final value. Typically, certain damage types are included and impact the final figure. These categories include:

  • Medical bills – related healthcare costs, both current and expected future expenses, are added in for surgery needs, rehabilitation, hospital charges, transport, pharmaceuticals, follow-up, and physical therapy support.
  • Lost income or wages – for days not worked where income was lost and can be measured, the amount becomes claimable.
  • Lost income for the future – if an injured party is going to be permanently disabled or suffers from long-term disability due to the accident, the foreseeable lost income can be included.
  • Home medical expenses – costs associated with having to modify one’s home for medical conditions caused by an accident are eligible.
  • Mental health costs – emotional distress, pain & suffering, anguish, and loss of life quality as well as consortium with a partner can be included. While this category tends to be estimates, it is a valid component of damage recovery.
  • Property loss – any personal property from a vehicle to personal items that can be calculated can be included.

Prior to making the legal claim, an experienced accident attorney will review all the items, confirm the documentation for support, and then make the argument to the opposing counsel for possible settlement.

Resistance is Expected

No surprise, insurance providers will try to negotiate down the cost of damages if possible. Believe it or not, that can include an injured party’s own insurance company as well. However, their risk is going to court and ending up paying more if the lawsuit is lost. This hinges significantly on how obvious it is that their party was responsible for the car accident and damages. Ideally, the provider’s counsel hopes to achieve a settlement that is notably less than the liability that will occur in court. Representation’s job is to push that figure back up if a settlement may occur.

Given how much pressure there is to settle and agree to a lower figure than what might actually be due, it’s to an injured party’s benefit to be represented legally by an experienced accident attorney, especially in New York City. While the providers will walk away after the case is settled or decided and hand the paperwork to accounting offices, the injured party has to live with the ramifications of the accident. So there is every reason in the world to make sure that related recovery addresses needs as much as possible. That happens through the skill, representation, and experience of a New York car accident attorney versed in what’s possible for an injured driver or passenger.

John Tucker

John began his career in the insurance claims industry in 1990, initially working for the insurance carrier Robert Plan.

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