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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

Should I File an Auto Insurance Claim or a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you were injured recently in a motor vehicle collision, you might be wondering whether it is in your best interest to file an auto insurance claim in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, or to file a car accident lawsuit. If you are a New York resident or you were injured in New York, you might not have the option of choosing between an auto insurance claim or a lawsuit given New York’s no-fault auto insurance law. However, if you are eligible to file a car accident lawsuit, you should seek advice from a New York motor vehicle accident attorney about your options for moving forward with a claim.

Filing an Auto Insurance Claim Will Likely be Necessary

For most people who are injured in motor vehicle collisions in New York, filing a first-party auto insurance claim through their own auto insurance company and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is the first step in seeking compensation for injuries. For most people, PIP coverage provides up to $50,000 per person with basic no-fault coverage, although it may be possible to obtain additional compensation depending upon the specific terms of your no-fault insurance policy.

In order to think about filing a car accident lawsuit after a motor vehicle collision, you will need to have outstanding damages that are not compensable through your PIP coverage. In other words, for most people with basic no-fault insurance in New York, your damages will need to exceed $50,000 in order to consider the possibility of filing a car accident lawsuit. Yet even if your damages do exceed the amount you were able to obtain through your no-fault coverage, you will still need to prove that you sustained a “serious injury” as it is defined by New York law in order to be eligible to file a lawsuit.

Understanding New York’s Serious Injury Threshold

You cannot simply decide to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver after a collision in New York. Instead, you will need to have damages that exceed what is available through your PIP coverage, and you will need to be able to prove that you sustained a “serious injury” as New York law defines it. Without a serious injury, you will not have met the so-called “serious injury threshold,” and you will not be eligible to file a lawsuit.

New York law defines a “serious injury” as an injury that results in:

“[D]eath; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent use of a body organ, member, function, or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”

Contact a New York Auto Accident Lawyer

If you need assistance proving that you sustained a serious injury in order to file a lawsuit, one of our New York car accident lawyers can assist you. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC to learn more about how our firm can assist you.


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