How much money can a passenger get in a car accident in New York? There is no simple answer to that question. How much you might get depends on your injuries. Some people get thousands while others may get millions. How badly you were hurt, as well as the negligence involved, generally determines how much money you can get as a passenger in a car accident.
New York’s no-fault insurance laws can limit how much you can get. But if your injuries are serious enough, you may be able to pursue a car accident claim outside the no-fault insurance system.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?
With no-fault insurance, drivers are compensated for their injuries through their own insurance. This is the case even if the other driver was clearly responsible for the crash. Passengers who are injured in car crashes are covered by the no-fault insurance of the driver of the vehicle they were riding in. So if you were riding with a friend and got into a crash that was not your friend’s fault, you would still file your claim against your friend’s insurance.
Basic no-fault insurance policies are generally limited at $50,000. That is unless the policyholder bought additional coverage, which many people don’t. The coverage is split between everyone injured in the vehicle. If there were several passengers, it is split between everyone. When injuries are serious, the money will not go very far in paying expensive medical bills. Even when people have bought additional insurance coverage, if there are several passengers injured in an accident, the money probably won’t cover everyone’s bills.
How Can a Passenger Get Money After a Car Accident Outside of No-Fault Insurance?
If your economic damages in a car accident case are more than the basic coverage amount, you may be able to file a lawsuit outside of the no-fault system. Economic damages include medical bills, lost time at work and other measurable losses.
You can also sue outside the no-fault system if your injuries fall into the “serious injury” category under New York law. These injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Permanent limitations on the use of a body part or organ
- Permanent loss of a body part, organ, function or system
- Substantial and full disability for at least 90 days
- Loss of a fetus
- Injuries resulting in death.
Even if you don’t think your injuries qualify under this threshold, be sure to speak directly with a car accident lawyer about your case. New York insurance laws and car accident laws are very complex. Once a skilled attorney looks at all the facts of your case, evidence could be found that allows you to make a legal claim against the at-fault driver
Passenger Injured in Car Accident? Learn About Damages.
When you file a lawsuit, you can also ask for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering. These damages are not available through no-fault insurance. So if the circumstances of your accident as a passenger allow you to bring a legal claim, you could possibly receive more money than you would through no-fault insurance coverage.
Specific damages that may be asked for in car accident claims include compensation for:
- Doctor, hospital, prescription drug and other medical bills
- Lost income from time missed at work
- Future lost earning capacity when you can’t work at all or are limited in your work
- Incidental expenses for costs of traveling to doctor and other medical appointments
- Pain and suffering for emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life and ongoing physical pain
- Punitive damages if the at-fault driver’s actions were particularly careless
Car accident claims are usually made against negligent drivers’ insurance companies. If the insurance company won’t negotiate a fair settlement amount, then your case may go to trial. Jury awards are often higher than what you might receive in an insurance settlement. However, once a case goes to trial, there is no guarantee that it will be successful, which is why you want a highly experienced attorney fighting for you.
Proving Injuries in a Car Accident Lawsuit
When you’ve been in a serious car accident and are seeking compensation for damages, you will need evidence to prove your injuries. This is especially true when you are bringing a car accident claim outside the no-fault system. A driver who is being sued, or their insurance company, may try to deny that your injuries are as bad as you claim.
Following an accident, be sure to keep a file that contains:
- Records of your doctor, hospital, physical therapy and other medical visits
- Names of pain pills and other drugs you may be taking for your injuries and how often you must take them
- Photographs of your injuries, if possible
- Medical bills, taxi bills and other bills for transportation and parking at medical appointments
- Employment records that show time you have missed at work and expect to miss.
You might also consider keeping a written diary that describes your pain and how your injuries affect your daily life. All of the contents of your file will be important evidence in your car accident case.
Time Limit in Car Accident Cases
The time limit for filing legal claims is called a statute of limitations. As a passenger injured in an accident, you are under the same statute of limitations as vehicle drivers. What is the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim in New York? It is generally three years from the date you were injured. There are some exceptions to this rule, though. Always speak with an attorney about the timing in your case.
Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer for Help
At Kaplan Lawyers PC, our car accident lawyers have handled thousands of injury cases. If you are a passenger who was injured in a car accident, we can help you understand your legal options. Once we learn about your case, we can also advice you about how much you might be able to get. Call our experienced car accident attorneys at (516) 399-2364 for a free consultation.