Today’s blog is a very basic introduction to New York’s no-fault law, specifically the types of benefits and time limits for receiving them. If you’ve been in a car wreck in New York State or a New York driver who’s been in a car wreck anywhere else, you’ll have access to coverage under New York’s no-fault law.
What is No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault insurance is a mandatory benefit in New York State. If you have an automobile insurance policy in New York, then you have no-fault coverage.
New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Every auto insurance policy issued in New York State provides no-fault coverage, whether you ask for it or not. The minimum (called “PIP” or Personal Injury Protection) coverage provides for $50,000 in benefits for a covered person who has been injured in a car crash.
You don’t have to file a personal injury claim to get the benefit. All you have to do is open a no-fault claim with your insurance company. One of the downsides of no-fault that we’ll talk about a little bit more in a later video is that, in many cases, the no-fault law prevents you from making a personal injury claim at all.
You can purchase additional benefits, known as APIP (Additional Personal Injury Protection) and OBEL (Optional Basic Economic Loss) that cover many of the same items as basic PIP.
What is the difference between a personal injury claim and No-Fault benefits?
The difference between a personal injury claim and the no-fault benefit are significant and represent a tradeoff. On one hand, everyone can use no-fault after a crash without having to prove who is at fault, but the benefits are very limited in scope. For a personal injury claim, you must prove negligence and if you do, you are entitled to a wide variety of damages that ‘make you whole’ under the law. This includes intangible losses like pain, suffering, inconvenience, and other losses that don’t exist on paper.
No-fault is a much more limited benefit. It’s more of a reimbursement, meaning that it only pays for amounts of money that have been spent or would have been earned. It leaves a lot of losses without compensation.
Why would I choose between a personal injury claim and No-Fault benefits?
Everyone can access no-fault benefits. But not everyone has the right to bring an injury claim in New York.
The tradeoff mentioned above is this: not everyone who is injured in a car crash in New York has the right to bring a personal injury claim. In many cases, your only choice is to use the no-fault benefit and you will not be entitled to damages beyond that. The dividing line between who can make an injury claim and who cannot is called the “no-fault threshold”. This is a complicated area of law which looks at the injuries you’ve suffered and decides whether they are serious enough to allow an injury claim to move forward. Any legal claim based on an injury that does not meet the threshold will be dismissed.
What does No-Fault insurance cover?
The biggest category of your no-fault benefit will be for medical expenses related to the crash.
All of these are covered under no-fault:
- Doctor’s visits
- hospital stays
No-fault will also replace lost wages or earnings, and No-Fault will pay 80% of your lost income for up to three years after the crash.
Reimbursement for reasonable expenses
No-fault will also reimburse you for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the crash. A reasonable expense is for something other than medical care or lost income and can be up to $25 per day for one year from the collision.
These expenses might include things like:
- child care
- travel expenses
- household cleaning services
You must keep a receipt to make sure that you can prove the expense and get reimbursed from your no-fault carrier.
What is the deadline to start a no-fault claim?
Generally, you have up to 30 days from the crash to start your no-fault claim. You can begin your no-fault claim by calling your insurance company and asking them for the no-fault form.
So that’s a basic introduction to the New York no-fault law. In future blogs, we’ll dive in a little deeper about some of the details. If you’ve been involved in a New York crash or you’re a New York driver involved in a crash anywhere else, with just your basic no-fault or PIP coverage, you’ll have up to $50,000 in benefits to take care of medical expenses, lost income, and reasonable expenses related to the crash.
Remember, don’t delay in notifying your insurance company about your claim. Otherwise, you run the risk of having it denied.
Contact Us Today
If you want to speak with experienced New York and Vermont personal injury lawyer Drew Palcsik about your injury claim, please call my office or message me using the contact form. I serve clients at offices in Burlington and Middlebury, Vermont, and Plattsburgh, New York.