No-Fault Law in New York

I was injured in a two car motor vehicle accident. The other car had run a red light and struck my car on the driver’s side. Can I sue the other driver for my injuries?

Yes you might. But you need to understand the the No-Fault law in New York. There are two parts to the No-Fault law. The first part of the No-Fault law says that a driver like yourself will have their medical expenses and some lost wage benefits paid for through your own car insurance. This means your car insurance (and every car insurance policy in New York) has a rider that will cover lost wage benefits like a disability policy and a medical insurance rider that will cover medical expenses for injuries related to your car accident.

The No-Fault law states that you must apply for No-Fault benefits within 30 days after the accident. Therefore, if you do not file an application for No-Fault benefits within 30 days after your accident, your medical expenses and loss wage benefits will not be covered through your car insurance. (Your health insurance will not pay for medical expenses related to a car accident. Thus, you must put your medical expenses related to car accident injuries through your car insurance carrier.) At the very least, you should contact your insurance broker. Many underwriters now have their own apps for your phone in which you can notify the carrier of your car accident. The carrier will then send you a form to complete and submit within 30 days of your accident.

The second part of the No-Fault law limits your ability to recover for personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Insurance Law § 5104(a) a states that you may not sue the driver who ran the red light for your personal injuries unless you have sustained a “serious injury.” Insurance Law § 5102(d) defines what constitutes a “serious injury.” Although the Insurance Law describes a number of categories of what constitutes a “serious injury,” there is probably no more frequently litigated question in New York jurisprudence than whether a specific injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident fits into one the categories in the definition of a “serious injury” listed in Insurance Law § 5102(d).

If you sustained a laceration and a resulting visible scar or if you sustained a fracture, then these injuries constitute a “serious injury.” If you sustained a soft tissue injury that is temporary, but keeps you from performing your usual daily activities (like work or school) for 90 out of the first 180 days following the accident, then you have sustained a “serious injury.” There are other categories for permanent injuries or significant injuries. Courts have wrestled with these categories to try to determine whether a specific plaintiff’s personal injuries meet one of the definitions of “serious injury.” This subject matter has too many variations to cover in a post of this size to be more precise.

You were not specific about your injuries, so it is difficult for this post to state with any certainty whether your injuries are “serious.”  Thus, it is impossible to say if those injuries could be a basis for a personal injury claim against the negligent driver.