Five Common Misunderstandings About New York's Auto Accident Laws
- I have plenty of time to file an injury claim with my auto insurance
Actually, with recent changes to New York's no-fault insurance laws, we now have the shortest filing deadline in the country -- 30 days from the date of accident. After that, your no-fault> claim for medical bills and/or lost wages with your own insurer will probably be denied. Therefore, if you have had any medical treatment arising from an auto accident, even if for emergency treatment only, our advice is file a no-fault application immediately and call us.
- If I am seriously injured by a leased or rental vehicle, the leasing or
rental company is responsible for compensating me for my injuries.
This had been the law in the State of New York for over 80 years. Not anymore. On August 10, 2005, Congress eliminated the vicarious liability of leasing and rental companies for negligent, and even reckless, operation of their motor vehicles, overturning all state laws regulating this area.
- My car insurance will pay my medical bills and lost wages if I am
intentionally struck by another motor vehicle.
No. This is a serious gap in car insurance coverage in New York State. Even if you are hit by a scam artist who intentionally crashes into your vehicle and then claims injury, you are not allowed to recover your medical bills, lost wages, or any other type of compensation through car insurance, no matter how badly you are injured.
- I have adequate car insurance coverage for my serious injuries caused by
an uninsured or stolen vehicle.
Well, maybe. Supplemental uninsured motorist insurance, also known as "SUM" insurance, applies in this situation, and unfortunately, most drivers in New York only carry the $25,000 minimum requirement for this coverage. We advise our clients to carry as much SUM coverage as possible -- it's relatively inexpensive and can prove invaluable in an accident involving an uninsured or stolen vehicle.
- I can be compensated for pain and suffering arising from my injuries, as
long as the car accident was the other person's fault.
No. Under New York's no-fault "threshold law," unless you have sustained a bone fracture, your injuries must meet certain strict medical requirements in order to receive any compensation for "pain and suffering." In recent years, decisions from New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, have tightened these requirements even further and raised the bar to recovery even higher.
The moral of the story: Given the increasing number of motor vehicles on Long Island's roads and highways, and the manner in which some of those vehicles are driven, protect yourself and your family by purchasing the appropriate amount of auto coverage for your circumstances. The more informed you are of your rights and obligations under New York's ever-changing automobile accident laws, the better you will be able to avoid the pitfalls for the unwary hidden within those laws.
For answers to your Auto Insurance and Accident Questions, Call us at (631) 543-7667.