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  • Leitner Varughese Warywoda

New York No-Fault Insurance: A Complete Guide for Accident Victims

No Fault Insurance


Car accidents are stressful enough, and New York's no-fault insurance system can add an extra layer of confusion. Don't let insurance jargon stop you from seeking the care and compensation you deserve. Let's untangle no-fault insurance,explore your rights, and when you might need to fight for justice beyond your initial benefits.

What is No-Fault Insurance?

  • In essence, no-fault mandates that your own insurance company handles your immediate medical costs and certain losses after an accident, regardless of who's at fault.

  • The aim is to speed up your access to treatment and simplify smaller claims.

  • However, "no-fault" doesn't mean the at-fault driver is off the hook entirely. We'll discuss those situations later.

Your No-Fault Benefits Breakdown

Personal Injury Protection (PIP), your no-fault coverage, is designed to protect you with these core benefits:

  • Medical Expenses: Think of PIP as your first line of medical coverage after an accident. It picks up the tab for hospital stays, doctor appointments, physical therapy, diagnostic tests, medication, and other medically necessary treatments related to your injuries.

  • Lost Wages: If your injuries keep you from working, PIP reimburses a portion of your missed income – 80% of your earnings up to a maximum of $2,000 per month for up to three years.

  • Essential Expenses: PIP can cover necessary costs caused by your injuries, up to $25 a day. This includes travel to medical appointments, replacement services (like house cleaning if you can't do it yourself), and similar practical needs.

  • Death Benefit: In the most tragic cases, a $2,000 death benefit might be available to the victim's family.

Understanding No-Fault's Limits

  • Coverage Caps: Most PIP policies have a limit, say $50,000. When medical costs and lost wages surpass that,you'll need other options to get fully compensated.

  • No Pain and Suffering: This is crucial – PIP is for economic losses. Unless you have a "serious injury" (we'll define that soon), you can't recover money under no-fault for the pain, emotional trauma, or reduced quality of life your injuries cause.

Can I Ever Sue the At-Fault Driver?

Yes, but New York has restrictions. The "serious injury" threshold determines when you can leave the no-fault system and sue the negligent driver directly for the full range of damages. Typically, a serious injury includes:

  • Death

  • Dismemberment (loss of a limb or body part)

  • Significant disfigurement

  • Bone fracture

  • Loss of a fetus

  • Permanent limitation of a body organ or system

  • Significant limitation of your ability to use a body function or system

  • Extended disability (substantially unable to perform daily tasks for at least 90 days)

When Fault Still Matters in the No-Fault World

Even if your injury may not meet the "serious" threshold, there are circumstances where assigning fault becomes important:

  • Out-of-State Drivers: Accidents involving drivers from states without no-fault laws work differently. You may be able to sue directly if their insurance doesn't cover your PIP-type benefits.

  • Drunk Driving: New York allows victims to sue intoxicated drivers regardless of how severe their injuries might be.

  • Commercial Vehicles: Accidents with trucks, buses, rideshare cars, or taxis often bring more complex lawsuits and higher liability due to companies being involved.

No-Fault FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered

  • How quickly must I file a no-fault claim? New York gives you a tight 30-day deadline to notify your insurer.Acting swiftly protects your rights.

  • What happens if PIP isn't enough? Your options may include using your health insurance, exploring disability benefits, or pursuing a lawsuit if you have grounds to do so.

  • Do I need a lawyer? It's your choice, but legal help is strongly advised. Insurers are focused on their bottom line,not getting you maximum compensation. An attorney fights for your interests, deciphers your benefits, and helps you navigate the legal hurdles of lawsuits if necessary.

Don't Face Insurance Companies Alone

New York's no-fault system has its merits, but it's not a blank check. If you've suffered serious injuries, a skilled personal injury attorney is your ally. Don't let complicated laws prevent you from receiving the full amount you deserve.

Leitner Varughese Warywoda is here to help. Call us for a free consultation at 212-671-1110 or visit and let's discuss your case.


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