ROSENBAUM & ROSENBAUM, P.C. | December 4, 2020 | Car Accidents
When you are at fault for a car accident in New York, you could be financially liable for the damages caused by the accident. What does that mean? It means that an accident victim can sue you for financial damages and non-economic damages.
However, you can fight back. If you feel that you did not cause the accident or the other driver is partially at fault for the cause of the crash, seek legal advice. You could be entitled to compensation even if you were partially at fault for the cause of the crash.
New York Car Insurance Requirements
New York is an at-fault state for motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, drivers in New York must purchase liability car insurance.
Liability insurance protects the driver and accident victims. The insurance coverage compensates victims for damages when the driver causes a car wreck.
Minimum car insurance requirements in New York include:
- $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury to one person and $50,000 in death benefits for the death of one person
- $50,000 in coverage for bodily injury per accident and $100,000 for the death of two or more people per accident
- $10,000 in coverage for damage to property
If you were at fault for the car accident, the victim files a claim with your insurance provider.
At this point, there is nothing for you to do. Your insurance provider handles the claim. You do not have any influence on whether the insurance company approves the claim or denies the injury claim.
What Damages Can an Accident Victim Receive Compensation for After a Car Accident?
Numerous damages are allowed in a car accident claim. The types of damages the victim might recover depend on the facts of the case.
However, most victims are entitled to receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Past, present, and future cost of medical care and treatment
- Past, present, and future loss of income and benefits
- Decreases in earning potential because of disabling conditions
- Physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life
- Permanent impairments, disabilities, scarring, and disfigurement
- Cost of long-term care, personal care, and in-home health care
- Other out-of-pocket costs and expenses
The accident victim must prove that you caused the accident to recover compensation for benefits. The victim’s word is not sufficient. There must be evidence that your actions led to the cause of the car wreck.
The person must also prove that the accident caused their injuries. They must have documentation to prove their injuries and financial damages.
What Happens if My Insurance Company Denies the Claim?
Your insurance company may deny the injury claim filed by the other party in the accident. If that occurs, the victim might appeal the denial. Again, there is nothing for you to do because your insurance provider handles the claim.
However, if your insurance company continues to deny the claim, the accident victim might file a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit names you as the defendant (the person being sued).
Most insurance companies hire an attorney to defend you in a legal case. However, you might want to consult a car accident attorney about your legal rights and concerns. The attorney the insurance company hires may not have your best interest as the top priority.
Your insurance company is only liable for damages up to the policy limits. If you purchased the minimum coverage of $25,000, the company only has to pay up to $25,000 in damages. You would be responsible for any compensation owed to the victim above that amount.
Because car accident claims can be expensive, it could be wise to purchase higher amounts of liability insurance, especially if you have assets that you want to protect. High-net-worth individuals might want to invest in an umbrella policy to protect themselves from liability for a car accident claim.
What Happens if the Other Driver Was Partially at Fault for the Accident?
Fortunately, New York uses a pure comparative fault standard to award damages in a car accident claim. Comparative fault is a method of dividing damages based upon each party’s fault for the cause of the accident. It allows parties to receive compensation for damages even though the parties might share liability for the cause of the accident.
Some states set a maximum percentage of fault that bars a person from recovering compensation for damages. Some states use a 50 percent bar, and other states use a 51 percent bar.
New York does not place a bar on the percentage of fault a person might have for an accident. You could be 99 percent responsible for the cause of the accident and still recover some compensation for your damages.
If you share responsibility for the cause of the accident, your compensation for damages decreases by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the crash. For instance, if you are 50 percent at fault, you only receive 50 percent of the compensation you should receive for damages.
How Can You Protect Yourself After a Car Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident, the steps you take after the crash can impact the outcome of a personal injury case. Things to remember include:
- Never admit fault at the accident scene or apologize for the crash. You cannot be sure of fault until an attorney analyzes your case.
- Take photographs and make a video of the accident scene
- Ask eyewitnesses for their names and cell phone numbers.
- Make sure that you seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries. Delays in medical care give the insurance company a reason to question your injury claim.
- Do not provide a written or recorded statement to the insurance company without talking with a lawyer. The things you say to an insurance claims adjuster or other insurance company representatives could be used against you.
- Keep copies of all receipts, invoices, and bills related to the accident.
- Document your damages by keeping track of missed time from work and other financial losses.
If you have questions or are unsure what to do next, you can seek advice from an attorney. The important thing to keep in mind is that an insurance company’s allegation of fault is not a statement of law. They must have proof that you were at-fault for the cause of the accident.