What are the types of insurance coverage and how are damages awarded?
For most people, the intricacies of car insurance are not especially interesting until they have an accident, at which point, particularly if there is personal injury involved, such matters become of paramount importance. It is helpful to be generally familiar with this information before you are involved in a collision.
Types of Car Insurance Coverage for Personal Injury
In New York State, all registered vehicles must carry the following:
- Liability car insurance which covers only injuries you cause to someone else
- No-fault auto insurance helps with your costs, regardless of fault
- Uninsured motorist insurance covers expenses for injuries caused by an uninsured motorist
Once you are aware of the various types of auto insurance, you should also learn the factors that will be considered relevant by the claims adjuster, or by the court should your case require a lawsuit.
Factors the Claims Adjuster Will Review
If you have suffered severe injuries, it is important to have a personal injury attorney in your corner going forward, particularly if you are contemplating a lawsuit to receive damages. You should be aware that the claims adjuster, and the court, should it become involved, will carefully review the following:
- Police Report
- How quickly you sought medical attention
- Any pre-existing conditions that you claim were worsened by the accident
- DUI/DWI charges or other traffic violations related to the accident
- Statements you or the other driver make, including apologies or acknowledgement of blame
- Witness testimonies
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Documents validating your claims of lost wages
- Personal injury limits of your insurance policy
Because these factors will be considered in your award of personal injury damages, you should make every effort to collect, or enlist the aid of a loved one or your personal injury attorney to collect, the necessary documentation.
What does negligence mean in the context of an auto claim?
Negligence is the word use to describe a driver’s careless behavior that contributes to a car accident. Some states have a designation known as contributory negligence, in which, even if you are only partly at fault in an accident, you receive no personal injury payment. New York State, however, is a purely comparative negligence state, meaning that you receive compensation commensurate with the proportion of the accident that was not your fault.
How Damages Are Awarded in Personal Injury Cases Involving Car Accidents
In personal injury cases, the word “damages” refers to the cost of your injuries; both direct and indirect financial costs and emotional costs are taken into account. There are two types of damages that may be considered: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are the most common and are divided into two categories: specific and general damages. Specific damages can be calculated mathematically and include: medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and property loss. General damages, in contrast, are much more difficult to assign a dollar amount since there is subjective judgment involved. General damages include: pain and suffering, emotional distress, inability to have children as a result of accident-related injuries, loss of consortium (companionship), or loss of an extremity.
Punitive damages are amounts awarded over and above compensatory damages when the other driver was severely reckless. They are meant to deter other drivers from engaging in such egregious misconduct on the road. If you suffer a serious personal injury in a car accident, you should consult with a well-respected, experienced personal injury attorney who will discuss your compensatory options with you.