Let’s discuss the downsides of New York’s No-Fault Law.
If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out my video covering the basics of New York No-fault Law. That’s a good place to start if you’re new to New York No-Fault Insurance.
Basic Overview Of New York No-Fault Law
New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law applies to motor vehicle accidents occurring in New York State or involving a New York driver. No-fault doesn’t apply to other kinds of accidents or injuries, like dog bites or falls in icy parking lots.
No-fault insurance usually comes with your own insurance policy if you’re a New York driver. At its most basic, no-fault provides $50,000 of insurance coverage for medical care and lost income, whether or not the accident was your fault or someone else’s.
Benefits of New York No-fault
What’s great about no-fault is that in most cases you can simply fill out an application and the benefits will begin. There’s no need to file a lawsuit, and the benefits usually come quickly.
Downsides of New York No-Fault
The largest downfall of New York no-fault is that it doesn’t cover many important losses that people sometimes suffer in a car crash. Things like pain, suffering, inconvenience or embarrassment.
Losses that are very real but don’t exist on paper.
For those kinds of losses, you do have to make a personal injury claim, whether as an insurance claim or by filing a civil lawsuit.
Now, the problem is, the no-fault law takes away the right for many people to file a personal injury claim. To file a personal injury claim in New York, your injuries must be “serious,” otherwise you may only have access to compensation through no-fault insurance.
The No-Fault Threshold
To have the right to make an injury claim, your injuries must meet what’s called the no-fault threshold. In the law, there are a number of different kinds of injuries, which automatically meet the threshold. Things like a broken bone or the loss of a limb.
Other ways to meet the threshold are more complicated and involve opinions from medical experts. In general, you must have what’s called objective proof of injury in order to meet the no-fault threshold. Injuries like whiplash or traumatic brain injury fall under the category of injuries that require an expert opinion.
Objective Proof vs Subjective Complaints
Somebody must be able to look at you, or the results of a test performed on you and be able to point to what happened, to be able to see the injury itself. That’s what they mean by objective proof.
On the other hand we have what are called subjective complaints. Those are things that you experience but other people can’t see, like pain, discomfort, stiffness, these are not complaints or types of evidence that are recognized by the no-fault law.
And that’s going to leave a lot of people out in the cold. While they may get their medical bills paid or get their lost wages replaced, they’re not going to be able to make a personal injury claim and it doesn’t matter whose fault the accident was.
Negligence isn’t enough to qualify for a personal injury claim
Even if the other driver was drunk or texting when the accident happened, you can only file a personal injury claim in New York after a car crash if your injuries are severe.
It simply doesn’t matter how bad the accident was or how bad the conduct of the other driver was, if your injuries don’t meet the no-fault threshold you’re not going to be able to make a claim for pain suffering or other kinds of losses.
Summary: The downside of New York’s No-Fault Insurance
No-fault insurance can be great for getting your medical bills paid and replacing lost income quickly, but it does nothing to make you whole for all the different ways that you’ve suffered as a result of a motor vehicle crash.
Only people whose car crash injuries meet the no-fault threshold have the right to make an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit for pain and suffering and other losses. And that’s the case regardless of how bad the accident was or how bad the conduct of the other driver was.