As winter weather sets in and holiday traffic starts to clog the roadways,
rushed drivers will have another worry to contend with:
an increase in accidents. Any time traffic volume peaks or road conditions worsen, the likelihood
of accidents grows. During the holidays, another worry compounds that
risk: More impaired drivers are on the roads. With packed roads and slippery
conditions, one mistake can easily compound into a multi-car accident.

Proving Fault When Multiple Drivers Are Involved in an Accident

When considering multi-car accidents, questions of fault and insurance
coverage increase in complexity. Insurers won’t want to pay for
damages, especially when many parties have claims. Each driver’s
insurer will try to pass liability, or partial liability, to others to
decrease their obligation. Do yourself a favor: Don’t try to mediate
the dispute on your own. Insurers will only listen to hard facts. An experienced
car accident attorney can help you clarify other parties’ fault using accident
reenactment and witness testimony.

Navigating Your Insurance After an Accident

Between medical appointments, bills from your garage, and missed work,
the expenses from a car accident can add up quickly. Recovering a settlement
from insurers, by contrast, may take a long time. Adjusters will dispute
everything they can to keep their payout low—after all, any money
they give you comes directly out of their bottom line.

Liability Insurance

Damages to your car or other property will be covered by the at-fault party
or parties’ liability insurance. Negotiations in this realm may
quickly become complicated as insurers try to protest charges of comparative
fault. The more the insurers can blame you for contributing to the dangerous
situation that led to the accident, the less they will have to pay toward
your car repairs. Your personal injury protection insurance does not help
with property damages that result from an accident, so a judgment against
you could put pressure on your bank account.

Personal Injury Protection Insurance

New York’s no-fault insurance system is designed to help everyone
get back on their feet as soon as possible after an accident. Your personal
injury protection insurance will cover injuries attributed to your accident
and other related expenses such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Household assistance
  • Transportation to medical appointments

Because you don’t have to settle questions of fault before receiving
coverage, personal injury protection plans help speed your recovery and
mitigate potential expenses. However, complicated or serious injuries
can quickly run up medical bills to your plan’s limit. If your bills
are high enough that even your insurer can’t cover them all, you
may have another option.

How Do Lawsuits Work in a No-Fault Insurance State?

Because New York car insurance doesn’t require proof of fault before
paying for personal injuries, there are limitations on when you can file
suit. If you are considering taking someone to court for damages, the
first thing you must do is meet these two criteria:

  1. You suffered “serious injury”
    as defined by New York law
  2. Monetary damages exceeded your personal
    injury protection insurance limits OR you have a case for non-monetary damages

serious injury clause covers circumstances such as dismemberment, disfigurement, broken or fractured
bones, and permanent and temporary disability. If your injury fits this
category and you meet the second criteria above, you have standing to
bring a suit against the at-fault party or parties under New York Law.

Once again, questions of fault may slow this process. Sometimes, lawyers
are able to negotiate a settlement for injured parties. If they don’t,
your case will go to trial. You’ll need incontrovertible evidence
and complete records to convince a jury that your settlement request is
not only reasonable, but necessary. Arguing on your own behalf in court
isn’t recommended. You should work with a knowledgeable trial lawyer
to build a strong case.

Stay Safe this Holiday Season

Whether you’re hosting, visiting family, or celebrating at home,
driving in crowded holiday traffic can be dangerous no matter how careful
you are. Do your part to keep the roads safe this holiday season.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, contact us online or call (718) 690-3132 to schedule your free consultation.