How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident in New York?

Last Updated on March 10, 2020

The process of getting an insurance payout after a car accident is very complex. The insurance companies involved will determine who is at fault for the accident and whose insurance company will pay liability costs. This process is made even more complicated in New York, which is a no-fault state. Here’s what you need to know about fault claims in New York and how they are determined.

How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident in New York?

No-Fault Laws in New York

In no-fault states, every person is required to have personal injury protection coverage. Insurance does not rely on fault determinations to pay out injury claims. Instead, injury coverage will always come out of your own PIP insurance. This means you won’t have to rely on the other party’s liability coverage for crucial medical payments. You’re required to have $25,000 of bodily injury and $50,000 of death coverage for one person and $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 of death coverage for two people. You’ll generally receive no-fault payments of up to $50,000, depending on the severity of your injuries.

However, you still can be found at fault in New York for property damage. Because of this, you’re still required to have liability insurance. Your insurance company will determine who is at fault for the property damage, and that payment will come out of your liability coverage. New York requires drivers to have $10,000 of coverage for property damage. Insurers also offer many different types of optional coverage that drivers may want to consider.

How is fault determined for property damage?

Although New York is a no-fault state, you can still be found at fault for property damage. No-fault states use the same procedures to determine property damage fault as tort states do. Your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company will work together to determine who is at fault for the accident. Adjusters will assess many different aspects of the accident to make a final determination.

If you are found to be entirely at fault for the accident, your insurance company will pay for the property damage, and the opposite is true if the other party is found at fault. However, there are many situations where you could be found partially at fault for the accident. For example, maybe you weren’t paying attention to a traffic signal, but the other party was driving in the wrong lane. In this case, both of these factors contributed to the accident, so you both can be found negligent.

In this case, your insurance companies will work together to assign a fault percentage for the accident. For example, you may found to be 30 percent at fault, while the other party may be found 70 percent at fault. In this case, your insurance company would pay for 30 percent of the damages, while the other insurance company would pay for 70 percent. New York’s comparative negligence law states that damages should always be awarded proportionally. In some other states, you can only collect damages if you were not at fault at all in the case.

What insurance should I buy in New York State?

There are many different types of insurance available beyond the traditional liability insurance, and you may want to consider buying additional coverage beyond what’s required. Although New York is a no-fault state, you may need extra support beyond no-fault coverage in a particularly serious accident. Here are some of the other types of coverage you may want to consider buying if you live in New York.

  • Medical payments coverage: This covers any injuries and other medical expenses beyond the initial PIP coverage that New York State requires. This type of coverage essentially ensures that you won’t go into serious debt because of a car accident.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: Unfortunately, there are many people on the road who drive without insurance, which is illegal. There are also many people who only carry the bare minimum of insurance coverage, which means that you may not receive a full payout from them if you are found at fault. Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your damages if you are hit by someone who doesn’t have enough car insurance coverage.
  • Collision coverage: This coverage pays for your property damage if you are in a collision, regardless of who is at fault. This type of insurance is very handy to have because it also covers single-car collisions, so you can receive a payout if you crash into a stationary object.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This coverage pays for any other types of damage to your car, like weather damage or flood damage. Since not all car damage comes from an accident, this is very handy to have.

Can I receive no-fault coverage as a pedestrian hit by a car?

New York’s no-fault coverage also applies to pedestrians who are hit by cars and experience serious injuries. This is particularly important to note for those that live in New York City and get around on foot or by bike. You can receive up to $50,000 in no-fault benefits if this happens to you, although you’ll need to file for them with the state or with your insurance company, depending on your situation. If you don’t drive and don’t have car insurance, you could still be eligible for coverage. Keep in mind that no-fault insurance does not apply to those on motorcycles. You may also qualify for disability from the state if you are unable to work.

If you’re unsure of how no-fault rules work in your specific situation, contact your car insurance company. If you’re struggling to get the payout you deserve, consider talking to a lawyer who has experience in the car insurance industry. They may be able to help you navigate this tricky situation. If you’ve been found at fault for an accident and don’t believe you should be, they can help you make your case.

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