It’s fall again, and you know what that means in New York City – rain, fog, sleet, maybe even some early snow. And car accidents. Lots and lots of car accidents. As the weather changes and drivers acclimate to slippery roads and fewer hours of daylight, accidents are inevitable. But fortunately, most accidents are handled quickly and easily through each drivers’ own insurance company and personal injury protection (PIP) policy, which is mandated throughout the state.
In fact, no matter who is at fault for the accident, state law requires your insurance to pay out your PIP benefits instead of opening the courts for you to sue the other driver. So why does Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier exist as a personal injury firm specializing in car accidents and other motor vehicle injuries? Why hire an NYC accident lawyer in a no-fault state?
NYC No-Fault Law
The short answer is that no-fault doesn’t always mean no-fault when it comes to car accidents. And under some circumstances, you can and must sue the other driver to receive adequate coverage for your medical expenses. Here’s how it works:
In minor and moderate accidents where injuries are not severe, the accident is automatically considered no-fault and your PIP policy helps pay your medical bills up to your maximum coverage limit. Depending on the terms of your policy, it may also help cover medically-related bills such as:
- Lost income
- Essential services related to your injury
- Your health insurance deductible
- Medical expenses that exceed your health insurance coverage limits
If you have the minimum required coverage, your personal injury protection policy will reimburse these and similar expenses, up to $50,000 per person – all without a lawsuit or any legal process to prove who was at fault.
However, sometimes $50,000 is not enough to cover your medical expenses and lost income. And sometimes, your injuries are so severe, that simply covering your expenses is insufficient. To receive damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, wrongful death, and other non-economic damages, you have to go outside the bounds of the no-fault laws, which is where an NYC accident lawyer such as Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier is able to assist.
Exceptions to the No-Fault Law
Fortunately for many drivers, severe accidents fall outside the bounds of New York’s no-fault accident laws and open the door for a lawsuit to determine fault and receive damages from the at-fault driver. An accident is considered “severe” if:
- You broke a bone
- You permanently lost the use of a limb or organ
- You received injuries that substantially limit a physical function or bodily system
- You were substantially disfigured
- You were disabled for 90 days or more
In cases such as these, you need to hire a personal injury attorney right away – preferably someone who specializes in car accidents and has a proven track record of recovering fair damages for victims. If you’re not sure whether your injury qualifies as “severe” according to the above-stated laws, contact an attorney at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier for a free consultation. Our years of experience in New York City courts help us advise you on whether your injury is likely to qualify and what the best course of action will be going forward.
Can I Contact an Attorney Later?
Understandably, many victims of a severe car accident want to focus on healing before they begin thinking about lawyers and legal proceedings. A common question we receive is “can I contact an attorney later – once I’ve had a chance to recover?” The answer is yes . . . but you may compromise your chances at winning maximum damages. The reason for this is two-fold.
First, New York has a very strict statute of limitations that applies to accident suits. Three years from the day the accident occurred, your ability to pursue your claim expires. This is true even if you contact a lawyer prior to that date.
Secondly, the longer you wait, the more difficult it is for your attorney to gather the evidence needed to prove the extent of your injuries and the fault of the other driver. Some pieces of evidence disappear very quickly and the farther away from the incident you get, the more difficult it is to accurately piece the information together.
We recommend calling an attorney as soon as possible following a serious injury, so he or she can get started gathering evidence, properly documenting your injuries, and counseling you on next steps.
Call Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier’s Accident Lawyers For Your Free Consultation
If you’ve been injured in a serious accident, there’s no reason to add uncertainty to injury. One of our knowledgeable attorneys is available for a free consultation, either by phone or at our office on 13th Avenue in the East Village. All our cases are taken on contingency, which means you don’t pay unless you win your case! Call us today at (212) 777-9400.