A Forbes magazine report states you can expect to be involved in a car accident almost once every eight years. With congested New York City streets, though, it’s likely you’ll experience car crashes on a more frequent basis. 

When car accidents do occur, determining who was at fault is important, especially when serious injuries are the result.

This can be confusing at times because New York is one of a handful of states that treats car accident insurance claims with a “no-fault” rule. 

Understanding New York’s No-Fault Car Insurance Laws

All New York drivers are required to carry auto insurance. Your policy must provide minimum coverage of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 in total liability injury coverage.

In essence, this means that your own insurance will be used to cover expenses caused by the accident including medical bills, lost wages, ongoing treatment, etc.

However, you can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver if your injuries meet a certain threshold of seriousness.

Car Accident Injuries That Lead to Personal Injury Claims

Under New York law, you can file a legal claim against the at-fault driver if your injuries are serious enough.

To determine the extent of your injuries, New York follows a 90/180 rule.

This means that if your injuries prevent you from living your life normally for three full months (90 days) out of the six months (180 days) following the accident, you can take legal action against the person who caused the accident.

Typical injuries that can cause such discomfort include bone fractures, injuries that lead to loss of control of bodily functions, limitation of an organ, partial or full disability for 90 days, etc. 

How Damage Helps to Determine Car Accident Fault

Determining fault by the location of the damage can be a tricky thing.

Even though the damage caused by a car accident rarely paints the entire picture of what happened, it does provide just enough brush strokes to point investigators in the right direction.

By analyzing the damage, investigators can then work in reverse to see how the damage was caused.

For example, severe damage usually indicates a high impact crash, which in turn usually means one of the drivers was traveling at a high speed. While that doesn’t necessarily prove fault, it does tell how fast one of the drivers was traveling.

In another example, let’s say there’s damage to the rear of your vehicle. What we do know beyond doubt is that you were hit from behind.

That evidence could indicate the other driver was tailgating. It could also mean your sudden braking surprised the other driver.

Additional Ways of Determining Car Accident Fault

For further information about how fault is determined in a car accident, there is a host of other ways to help police officers and insurance adjusters.

  • If you’re able, identify witnesses. You may want to use your voice recorder app on your smartphone. Be sure to ask for contact information and a summary of what they saw. 
  • Photograph the scene. Be sure to capture any skid marks, the working condition of traffic signals, location of traffic signs and weather conditions.
  • Get copies of the police incident report and any other documentation. This will be valuable evidence for your personal injury lawyer if you do file a legal claim.
  • Be seen by your doctor ASAP. In addition to establishing a documentation trail of your injuries, the injuries themselves can reveal how badly you were hit and from which direction.

Police and insurance adjusters can also examine other evidence sources, like cell phone records, to see if either driver was texting and talking at the time of the accident.

Time Limit for Filing Personal Injury Claims in New York

Here in New York, you have three years from the date of your car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Gathering evidence, contacting and preparing witnesses, and developing a strategy for your case can take a great deal of time. That’s why it’s crucial that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

While selecting your lawyer, make sure they specialize in personal injury law, and have successfully handled cases similar to yours.

New York’s fault system can indeed be confusing with its intricate rules. The best way to ensure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve is to leverage the expertise of a skilled personal injury lawyer.

That way, you’re almost assured of not missing any of the key deadlines that could prevent you from being covered for your expenses.