Does Fault Matter in a New York Auto Accident?


Getting hurt in a motor vehicle collision in New York can be devastating, and the process for seeking compensation can be confusing for anyone who has never dealt with the state’s no-fault system. You may know that New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance and traffic collision claims, but does fault matter at all? While fault is not relevant for seeking compensation through your own personal injury protection (PIP), or no-fault, coverage, proving fault is extremely important if your PIP coverage is insufficient to pay for your losses and you need to file a car accident lawsuit. Our New York car accident lawyers can provide you with more information.


Three General Types of Auto Insurance in New York


New York auto insurance law requires motorists to purchase three kinds of auto insurance in order to have license plates and to drive their vehicle lawfully in the state. Those three forms of auto insurance include the following:


● No-fault insurance, or PIP, which is type of insurance is designed to cover a person’s medical expenses, to pay compensation for lost wages, and to cover the costs of certain necessary expenses;

● Liability coverage, which is designed to provide protection for harm you cause in your own vehicle, or harm you cause while lawfully driving another person’s vehicle (and can include property damage and physical harm); and

● Uninsured motorist coverage, which is designed to protect you and your passengers against harm caused by an uninsured motorist or a motorist in a hit-and-run accident.


PIP coverage does not require you to prove fault of any type, or to defend against allegations that your own fault played a role in the accident. It provides prompt coverage up to $50,000 per person regardless of fault or negligence. It can also pay up to 80% of your lost wages as a result of your inability to work due to the injury, at a maximum of $2,000 per month for up to three years from the date of your accident. PIP coverage does not pay for damage to your vehicle.


When Fault is Relevant to Your New York Car Accident Case


You will need to prove fault in either of the two scenarios:


● Filing a third-party auto insurance claim against another driver’s liability coverage; or

● Filing a car accident lawsuit against an at-fault driver.


The liability insurance that every vehicle owner must carry in New York includes $25,000 for bodily injury for one person in an accident, $50,000 bodily injury for two or more people in a single accident, and $10,000 for property damage in a single accident. If another driver caused significant property damage to your vehicle, for example, you may be able to file a third-party insurance claim to seek compensation from that motorist’s liability coverage. To do so, you will need to prove fault.


If your injuries exceed the amount of compensation you can obtain through your PIP coverage, including pain and suffering, you may be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To do so, you will need to prove that you meet what is known as the “serious injury threshold” required by New York law. To win a car accident lawsuit, you will also need to prove fault.


Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in New York


If you need assistance proving fault in your car accident case, one of our New York auto accident lawyers can assist you. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC for more information.

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