Drivers accessing car damage after accident

Common Misconceptions About Car Accident Claims in New York

Law Office of Steven R. Smith June 9, 2023

If you were involved in a car accident in New York, you might be entitled to compensation. However, there are quite a few misconceptions about car accident claims in New York that may give you the wrong idea about the claims process. This could potentially hurt your ability to obtain the compensation you deserve.   

At the Law Office of Steven R. Smith, my team and I help car accident victims protect their rights and navigate the claims process. Also, I have everything necessary to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. From my office in Garden City, I serve New York and Long Island, including Westbury, Hempstead, New Hyde Park, and Mineola.   

Common Misconceptions

When filing a personal injury claim and navigating the legal system after a car accident, you are likely to encounter some misconceptions that may limit your ability to obtain full and fair compensation. Below, we will discuss and debunk some of the most common misconceptions about car accident claims in New York:   

1. It’s Always the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance That Pays for the Damages/Injuries 

Many people believe that the at-fault driver’s insurance will always pay for the damages or injuries resulting from a car accident. However, this is not entirely true. New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means that each driver’s insurance pays for their own property damage and injuries, regardless of who is at fault. The only time you can sue the at-fault driver is when the personal injury damages exceed the no-fault limits or if you have suffered a “serious injury” as defined by law, according to New York’s Department of Financial Services.   

2. New York Is a No-Fault Insurance State, Which Means I Cannot Seek Compensation from the At-Fault Driver 

As mentioned above, New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means that each driver’s insurance pays for their own injuries and damages no matter who was at fault. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you have suffered a “serious injury,” you can sue the at-fault driver for additional damages, such as pain and suffering. 

A serious injury is defined as:   

  • losing a fetus,  

  • significant disfigurement, 

  • Dismemberment, 

  • fractured bones; and,  

  • permanently losing the use of an organ, function, member, or system, 

  • permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member,  

  • having significantly limited use of a body function or system,  

  • a medically determined injury/impairment of a non-permanent nature that prevents you from performing substantially all of the material acts that; and,  constitute your usual daily activities for a minimum of 90 days within 180 days immediately following the injury, 

  • death. 

You need to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney to determine if your injury meets the “serious injury” threshold as defined under New York law.   

3. If the Accident Is Minor, It’s Not Necessary to File a Police Report 

Many people believe that if the accident is minor, like a fender bender, they do not need to file a police report. However, this is not entirely true. If you are involved in a car accident in New York, you must report the accident to the police immediately, regardless of how minor the accident may seem.   

Failing to report the accident can have serious legal consequences down the road, and it can also make it more difficult to pursue a claim for damages. Additionally, having a police report will serve as a crucial piece of evidence in your legal claim for compensation. 

4. I Was Partially At-Fault for the Accident, Which Means I Cannot File a Personal Injury Claim 

New York follows a pure comparative fault rule that applies to personal injury cases. Under this rule, even if you contributed to the accident, you can still file a personal injury claim. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault you are found to have contributed to the accident. For example, if the court finds that you were 40% responsible for the car crash, your compensation will be reduced by 40%. Since New York adheres to the “pure” comparative fault system, you are allowed to recover damages even if your percentage of fault is greater than the other party’s. 

5. I Do Not Need to Hire an Attorney to File a Personal Injury Claim

While it’s true that you can file a personal injury claim on your own, doing so comes with a number of risks. The legal system can be complicated for someone with no legal experience, and insurance companies are known to try to pay out as little as possible or deny a claim altogether. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the claims process and can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation you need to get your life back on track.   

Turn to an Attorney for Proper Guidance  

If you were involved in a car accident in New York or Long Island, reach out to my office to get proper guidance. At the Law Office of Steven R. Smith, I help accident victims work through the complexities when filing a claim for compensation. Reach out to my office today to schedule a time for a consultation.