If you live in New York and have suffered injuries in a car accident, you may wonder if you can sue for pain and suffering even though New York is a no-fault state. The answer is that you may be able to sue for pain and suffering, but it is crucial to understand the limitations of the law and a no-fault car accident settlement in NY.
No-Fault Laws in New York
In a no-fault state like New York, car accident victims must first turn to their insurance company for compensation for medical bills and lost wages. This coverage is called personal injury protection (PIP). New York law requires all drivers to purchase no-fault coverage. PIP coverage will cover your medical bills and lost wages up to the policy limits. PIP will extend coverage to you, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
However, PIP coverage does not cover pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is fault-based compensation. It refers to the physical and emotional distress you experience from injuries sustained in a car accident. It can include physical pain, emotional trauma, and mental anguish. In short, to sue for pain and suffering, you will have to go outside your PIP coverage. But, as we now explain, there are several ways to do that.
How to Sue for Pain and Suffering in New York
In New York, there are certain situations where you may be able to sue for pain and suffering. These situations are known as “threshold” requirements. You must meet the minimum requirements before legally bringing a claim for fault-based damages. There are two threshold requirements in New York.
Serious Injury Threshold
The first option is to qualify under the serious injury threshold. To sue for pain and suffering under this option, you must have sustained a “serious injury” as defined by New York law. The law defines a serious injury as one that results in death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, fracture, loss of a fetus, permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system. Or it’s the permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member. If you have sustained a serious injury, you may be able to sue for pain and suffering.
Basic Economic Loss Threshold
The other option for suing for pain and suffering involves the basic economic loss threshold. To sue for pain and suffering, your medical bills and lost wages must exceed a certain amount. This amount is the basic economic loss threshold. The current amount in New York is $50,000. If your medical bills and lost wages exceed $50,000, you could qualify to sue for pain and suffering.
It is important to note that if you meet one or both threshold requirements, you may be able to sue for pain and suffering. However, you can only sue up to the limits of the other driver’s liability insurance policy. In other words, if the other driver has a liability insurance policy of $100,000, your entire settlement cannot exceed available limits.
To recover compensation beyond this, you would need to look for alternative sources of recovery. Examples include another party who shares liability for the accident or an underinsured motorist (UIM) policy under your auto policy. Since New York law requires drivers to purchase uninsured coverage, you should have UIM as it’s grouped together in your premium.
Hire a New York Car Accident Lawyer
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in New York, you could sue for pain and suffering even though New York is a no-fault state. However, you must meet specific threshold requirements, and the compensation you receive may be limited by New York law. If you are considering suing for pain and suffering, speak with a qualified New York car accident lawyer who can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the process.
When choosing a New York personal injury lawyer, look for someone with experience in car accident cases. You want someone with success resolving a serious no-fault accident settlement in NY.
We also recommend looking for a lawyer who offers a free consultation. That way, you can discuss your case and determine whether or not you have a valid claim. Most New York car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay any upfront legal fees. The attorney takes a pre-determined percentage if they successfully recover money on your behalf.
Ferrante & Koenig Is Waiting to Help You
Attorney Anthony A. Ferrante knows what it takes to build a solid case for pursuing compensation for pain and suffering in New York. He has over 15 years of experience and has repeatedly been named a New York Super Lawyer. When you need a skilled legal advocate, the legal team at Ferrante & Koenig stands ready to help. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more.