New York is a no-fault state, which means you can’t sue for a car accident unless your injuries are serious enough to warrant the lawsuit.
If your injuries do not pass the threshold, each party’s own insurance company pays their own damages and both go their separate ways. These are capped by your insurance limits, and there is no pain and suffering award.
You can only sue an at-fault negligent driver in the event of:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- A medically determined non-permanent impairment lasting more than 90 days during the 6 months immediately following the accident.
There are also missteps you can make in your case that can seriously limit your ability to sue. For example, in the 2005 case Pommells v. Perez, the Court ruled that a plaintiff who terminates medical treatment after an accident cannot come back and claim a serious injury without offering some sort of reasonable explanation for terminating treatment. Thus, any treatment gap can weaken your case.
If you plan to sue for serious injuries you will need to involve an attorney as quickly as possible. Everything from contributory negligence to pre-existing conditions can complicate your case. You will even need an attorney’s help to prove that you actually meet the threshold, especially if you are primarily relying on a decreased range of motion to meet the threshold.
We can help ensure that your claims are filed correctly, that you have a sufficient amount of evidence to make your claim, and that you are protected throughout the process. We can also ensure that insurance adjusters will not have a chance to trick you into making misleading statements. We also evaluate the worth of your claim and ensure that any potential settlement offer is a fair one, and negotiate on your behalf. If you are pressing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one who died in a car accident, then you will still need a lawyer’s help: insurance companies find a wealth of ways to avoid paying such claims.
If you’re not sure whether your case meets the threshold, you can ask us. We’ll be happy to look over the facts of your specific case.