The moments after a car accident are chaotic. You could be suffering from intense physical pain. Even if you were not injured, you could be in shock, making it impossible for you to think clearly and rationally. 

Regardless of your condition, admitting fault after a car accident is never recommended. If you admit that you caused the car accident, your options for recovering compensation for damages are limited. You might even find that your personal injury case is over before it has a chance to start. Instead, it is best to talk with a car accident lawyer to learn about New York car accident laws and your legal rights after a car crash.

New York is a No-Fault Insurance State

Many people believe that it does not matter whether they admit fault after a car crash because New York is a no-fault insurance state. However, that is not true. 

New York requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. A driver in New York must have a minimum of:

  • $50,000 in Personal Injury Protection or PIP (no-fault insurance)
  • $25,000 liability insurance for bodily harm to a single victim
  • $50,000 liability insurance for bodily harm to all victims of an accident
  • $10,000 for property damage per accident

Regardless of who caused the accident, a victim files a first-party claim under their no-fault insurance coverage. The basic PIP policy covers reasonable medical expenses related to the accident, up to 80 percent of lost income, and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the car accident up to the policy limits. 

Accident victims must submit a claim to their insurance company within 30 days of the accident for no-fault insurance benefits. Failing to file the claim by the deadline could result in forfeiting your right to compensation.

Even though no-fault insurance is designed to make it easier for victims to receive compensation for a car accident, your insurance company could deny your claim. It may claim that the accident did not cause your injuries or your injuries are not as severe as you claim.

Furthermore, no-fault insurance may not cover all damages. You could have a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, but admitting fault could hurt that claim.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against the At-Fault Driver

No-fault insurance does not compensate victims for pain and suffering damages. It may not cover all loss of income or other damages. 

If another driver caused your car accident, you could have a personal injury claim against that driver. New York no-fault insurance laws allow car accident victims to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver if the covered losses exceed the PIP coverage or the victim sustains a serious injury.

Serious injuries include dismemberment, loss of a fetus, death, fractures, significant disfigurement, and most permanent impairments or disabilities. The insurance company might argue that your injury does not meet the “serious” standard for a third-party insurance claim. If so, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to argue the matter in court.

How Can Admitting Fault Hurt My Car Accident Claim?

The other driver must have caused the car crash for you to recover compensation in a third party claim. You must prove that the other driver’s actions were a direct and proximate cause of the car accident. If the other driver was entirely responsible for the cause of the crash, you should be entitled to full compensation for your damages.

However, if you are partially to blame for the cause of the car accident, you might not receive compensation for the full value of your claim. 

Under New York’s contributory negligence laws, a victim’s compensation for a personal injury claim can be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. In other words, if you admit fault, the amount of money you could receive from the at-fault driver or his insurance company is lower than the actual value of your damages.

For example, let’s assume that the total value of your injury claim against the other driver is $500,000. However, you admitted that you were partially to blame for the accident. Your fault for the cause of the crash is judged to be 40 percent.

Therefore, your compensation is reduced by 40 percent – or $200,000. The most you could receive for the personal injury claim would be $300,000 (the total value of your claim less 40 percent).

It is easy to admit fault after a car accident without meaning to admit fault. Saying you are sorry or apologizing for the accident could be misinterpreted as admitting fault. 

Talking with a personal injury lawyer before discussing the car crash with an insurance adjuster is generally in your best interest. An attorney can help you avoid errors and mistakes that could hurt your chance of recovering compensation for your car accident injuries.