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What issues apply to car accident cases?

New York’s insurance laws often impact the settling or prosecution of a lawsuit for injuries suffered in a car accident. The state’s mandatory no-fault insurance law requires a New York-registered driver to carry auto insurance and uninsured motorist coverage.

If there is an auto accident, the driver’s insurance policy pays necessary medical expenses and lost wages up to $50,000 to policyholders, their passengers and to pedestrians. Payment is made regardless of who is at fault for causing the crash.

Additional damages for other claims, such as pain and suffering, must be pursued in court. The no fault insurance law allows recovery for pain and suffering if the driver’s negligence caused permanent and serious injuries.

All New York motorists must also carry uninsured motorist coverage which covers injuries caused by another uninsured driver in car accidents. If a victim does not own a car and does have auto insurance coverage, a suit must be filed against the driver who caused the injury to the victim. Victims of an unidentified hit-and-run driver or a driver with limited resources may make ask for recovery from the New York Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Company. Coverage is restricted to $25,000 under this plan.

Settlement often avoids protracted litigation. Careful consideration should be given to a reasonable and sincere settlement offer. Insurance companies may utilize their resources to conduct a prolonged and time-consuming legal fight. Where the defendant has limited financial resources, there may be limitations on collecting a judgment exceeding that driver’s policy coverage.

When a driver is injured by an insured motorist who engaged in wrongful conduct, medical attention should be sought immediately. The claim should be documented as completely and thoroughly as possible. There should be no conversations with the insurance company for the motorist who caused the accident.

Car accident victims should promptly seek legal representation to act on their behalf in settlement negotiations and in legal proceedings. Legal advice can provide information that allows a victim to reach a fair settlement or legally pursue a claim. Time periods restrict when a lawsuit may be filed.

Source: New York City Bar Association Legal Referral Service, “Auto accidents,” Accessed Jan. 4, 2015