What Is New York’s No-Fault Law?
Many states, including New York, have passed legislation that allows people who’ve been injured in car accident to recover insurance benefits for their injuries without regard to fault. The law requires car insurance companies to include no-fault benefits in all their car insurance policies issued in state with no-fault insurance laws.
In New York, the legislature passed its no-fault laws to help people obtain a “prompt and full recovery” for certain economic losses. The injured party files a claim with their insurance provider to receive no-fault benefits to compensate them for medical expenses, among other financial losses caused by a car accident. These proceeds are considered to be “first-party benefits” since the policyholder files a claim with their insurance provider, as opposed to “third-party benefits” which involves an unrelated third-party who makes a claim for benefits.
However, an injured party will sometimes assign their right to claim no-fault insurance benefits to their medical provider when they cannot afford the bill. When that happens, the medical provider files a claim with the injured party’s insurance company to recover no-fault benefits.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for No-Fault Insurance Claims?
In general, lawsuits for personal injuries must be filed within 3 years from the date of the accident. However, New York courts have recognized that a 6 year statute of limitations applies to first-party no-fault benefits claims filed against a private insurance company because the cause of action arises from a private contract between the claimant and its insurance company.
Simply put, personal injury lawsuits against an at-fault driver must be filed within 3 years from the date of the accident, while no-fault insurance claims for the same accident get 6 years.
Contact Chiropractic and Self-Insured Persons
Sometimes an automobile accident involves a party who isn’t covered by a private insurance policy, but has rather certified themselves to be a self-insured party. Government entities are typically self-insured and do not utilize n contract with a private insurance company to satisfy New York’s financial responsibility requirements for vehicle operators.
In cases of self-insurers, there is no contract under which first-party no-fault benefits are created. Last year in Contact Chiropractic, P.S. v. New York City Transit Authority., the New York Court of Appeals held that no-fault benefits claims against an entity that is self-insured are subject to a three-year statute of limitations. In that case, the injured party was a passenger on a New York Transit Authority (NYTA) bus that was involved in a traffic accident. The injured party assigned their right to recover benefits from the (NYTA) to their chiropractor, Contact Chiropractic.
The New York Court of Appeals held that the three-year statute of limitation applied to Contact Chiropractic because the claim did not arise out of a private insurance contract with no-fault benefits coverage.
Justice Michael Garcia wrote a dissenting opinion in Contact Chiropractic arguing that the majority’s ruling puts injured passengers of self-insured automobile owners at a significant disadvantage:
“The rule now put forward by the majority raises the troubling appearance that an equally-deserving claimant could be barred from recovering benefits merely because the offending party effectively ‘bought’ self-insured status.”
Our Brooklyn Car Accident Attorneys Will Fight for Your Rights
At Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices, our attorneys have dedicated their practice to helping injured persons find legal and financial vindication for sustaining injuries caused by another person’s wrongful or negligent conduct. We have experience handling personal injury cases implicating complex laws – such as New York’s no-fault laws – and powerful defendants – such as governments and commercial entities.
Schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices to explore your legal options today – call us at (718) 690-3132 or visit us online.