After a car accident, you may be a bit dazed – and unsure of what exactly to do. You may also be worried about how you will pay for things like your medical bills or even your regular household expenses if you have to take time off of work. Fortunately, in New York, you can get immediate help through no-fault insurance coverage.
New York requires all drivers to carry no-fault insurance, which pays up to $50,000 per person for medical bills, lost wages, and some other expenses after a motor vehicle accident. For this type of insurance, fault is not considered – your own insurance company will pay these bills irrespective of whether you caused the accident or another person did. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your insurance company may provide additional compensation through uninsured motorist coverage.
At The Odierno Law Firm, we are fierce advocates for injury victims. We work hard to help our clients get the money that they deserve for their injuries. If you have been hurt in a collision, give our law offices a call to schedule a free initial consultation with a New York car accident attorney.
Who Is Responsible for Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
New York is a no-fault state for purposes of car insurance. This means that your own insurance policy will pay for your medical bills and certain other expenses, up to $50,000 per person, through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. All drivers in New York are required to have PIP coverage as part of their auto insurance coverage.
No-fault coverage is designed to ensure that medical bills and other expenses are paid quickly, regardless of who was responsible for a car accident. For basic no-fault coverage, your own insurance company will pay for economic losses up to $50,000 per person, including the driver, all passengers, and any pedestrians who may have been injured in an accident in New York involving your car. Economic losses include medical expenses, lost wages, and certain other “reasonable and necessary” expenses related to the crash.
PIP will pay for:
- Reasonable and necessary accident-related medical and rehabilitation expenses
- 80% of lost earnings from work, up to $2,000 per month for as long as 3 years
- Up to $25 per day for other reasonable and necessary expenses, such as household help due to injuries related to the accident
- A $2,000 death benefit
No-fault coverage applies to the person who bought the coverage as well as all relatives who live in their household for economic losses that occur due to a motor vehicle accident that occurs anywhere in the United States or Canada. It also provides coverage for passengers in your vehicle who were hurt in an accident in New York while in your vehicle.
Significantly, fault does not matter when it comes to PIP. Even if another driver rear-ended you as you sat at a red light, your no-fault coverage will pay for your economic losses. The goal of this system is to ensure that people can get the medical treatment they need and money for other losses as soon as possible. Instead of trying to figure out who will pay for their injuries, accident victims can simply go to the hospital or to the doctor’s office and get medical care.
No-fault coverage is primary to health insurance. This means that your PIP will pay for your medical care first in situations where you are being treated for an injury related to a car accident. That is why many doctor’s offices and hospitals will ask if your injury was due to a motor vehicle accident or a work injury.
PIP only pays for medical bills, lost wages, and certain other expenses (like the cost of getting to and from appointments). It will not pay for property damage to your car or to another person’s vehicle. If you are in an accident where another driver was at fault, then you may have to seek compensation for things like property damage from their insurance company.
No-fault insurance coverage can be great, but it means that you cannot bring a lawsuit against an at-fault driver or another party if your economic losses exceed PIP benefits. You can also only seek money for non-economic damages – like pain and suffering – if you suffered a “serious injury” per New York law. Serious injuries include things like death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, a fracture, loss of a fetus, permanent loss of the use of a major body part, a permanent consequential limitation of the use of a body organ or member, a significant limit of the use of a body function or limitation, or a non-permanent injury or impairment that meets certain criteria.
If you are unsure about whether your car accident was “major” enough to fall outside of no-fault insurance coverage, a Long Island personal injury attorney can help. During a free initial consultation, they will offer advice about your legal rights and options for pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
What Happens If the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
In addition to PIP coverage, New York also requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This type of insurance will pay for bodily injuries caused by a driver who does not have insurance. It will also cover situations where a person was injured in a hit-and-run accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage only pays for bodily injuries, not property damage. Drivers are required to carry $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a single person in UM coverage, plus $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for 2 or more people. It only applies to accidents that occur within the state of New York, although you can pay for an extension of coverage to other states.
For example, consider a situation where you were driving down the highway when a car sideswipes you – and then speeds away from the scene. Your vehicle spins out and slams into another vehicle. You suffer serious injuries and your car is totaled as a result. The hit-and-run driver is never located.
Here, your UM coverage would kick in to pay for your medical bills that go beyond your PIP coverage. While it won’t pay to replace your car, it will ensure that your medical expenses are paid. Similarly, if the driver that hit you didn’t have car insurance, then your UM coverage would pick up your medical bills.
UM coverage applies to both you and anyone who is in your car and has been injured in either a hit-and-run accident or a collision involving an uninsured vehicle. It also applies to situations where you or a family member is injured as a pedestrian or while unknowingly riding in an uninsured vehicle. Even if you don’t own a car, you could file a claim under the policy of a relative in your household if you are in a crash with an uninsured driver.
In some cases, you could even be eligible for UM protection and PIP coverage even if you do not own a car and are not covered by a family member’s policy. You can report the accident to the authorities and then file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).
While it may seem strange to file a claim with your own insurance company for an accident that another person caused, it is sometimes the only way to ensure that you get the money that you deserve for your injuries. You pay for this coverage as part of your insurance premium, so if you need it, you should file a claim.
A seasoned Long Island personal injury attorney can work with you to help you understand your rights and options for pursuing a claim. If your insurance company wrongfully denies your UM claim, they can also help you appeal that decision – or even file a lawsuit against the insurance company for a bad faith denial.
How The Odierno Law Firm Can Help
Being in a car accident can be terrifying. In the days and weeks that follow, you may be unsure of what to do – and you may not even know how your medical bills will be paid. Fortunately, personal injury protection coverage will provide immediate relief, covering up to $50,000 in medical expenses, lost wages, and certain other costs.
At The Odierno Law Firm, we are committed to helping accident victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We represent clients throughout Long Island in all types of accident cases and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Long Island car accident lawyer, call our law office at 631-933-1304 or fill out our online contact form.