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

At King Law, we know how devastating it can be to suffer a serious injury in a car accident in the Rochester area. Nobody gets behind the wheel of an automobile with the expectation of being involved in a collision caused by another driver’s negligence. Yet motor vehicle crashes happen more often than you might expect, and they usually result from another motorist’s negligence. If another driver’s careless behavior caused your serious injuries, you should know that an aggressive Rochester car accident lawyer can help you with your claim.

We know how complicated the New York auto insurance and personal injury law systems can be, and we want to emphasize that our firm is here to help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. We also know that you have questions about the initial steps you should be taking to seek compensation, and that you may be wondering whether you should begin by filing an auto insurance claim or a car accident lawsuit.

Given the way in which New York’s no-fault law works, any injury victim will usually begin the process of seeking compensation by filing an auto insurance claim. Depending upon the outcome of the insurance claims process, that injury victim might also be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. We want to provide you with more information that can help you as you navigate the insurance claims and personal injury law systems in Rochester.

Filing an Auto Insurance Claim with Help from a Rochester Car Accident Lawyer

If you sustained a serious injury in a car accident, New York insurance law typically requires you to begin the claims process by filing an auto insurance claim through your own insurance company. When you do so, you will be seeking coverage through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. You may know that New York is a no-fault auto insurance state. What does this mean for you? Rather than giving car accident injury victims an option to file a claim for injury compensation with their own insurance company (a first-party claim) or through the at-fault driver’s insurance company (a third-party claim), the no-fault system in New York is designed to provide coverage for injuries regardless of who is at fault.

In practice, what the no-fault system means is that you will usually start the process of seeking compensation by filing a claim for PIP coverage. With PIP coverage, you can be eligible to receive up to $50,000 per person with a basic no-fault coverage plan. Your insurance payout can cover your medical expenses, certain necessary expenses related to your injuries (such as travel to and from the doctor’s office or hospital), and up to 80 percent of your lost wages. To be clear, PIP coverage can compensate you for economic losses up to the amount of your coverage limit. PIP coverage does not provide compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, or your loss of enjoyment of life resulting from your debilitating injuries.

It is important for you to know that, while New York uses the language “no-fault” to describe its auto insurance system, this language does not mean that you are prohibited from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, in order to do so, you will need to prove that you meet New York’s “serious injury” threshold, and we can help you.

Filing a Lawsuit and Meeting the Serious Injury Threshold

To file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you will need to be seeking compensation beyond what you received from your PIP coverage. Under Section 5102 of New York Injury Law, to be eligible to file a lawsuit, you will also need to demonstrate that your injuries meet the “serious injury” threshold required for filing a lawsuit. There are many different types of serious and debilitating injuries that can qualify you to file a car accident lawsuit, including but not limited to:

  • Injury that will result in death;
  • Dismemberment;
  • Injury that results in significant disfigurement;
  • Fracture or bone break;
  • Loss of a fetus;
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ;
  • Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ; and/or
  • Injury that prevents you from performing customary daily activities for at least 90 days within the 180-day period after you suffered your car accident injuries.

Many of the following kinds of common car crash injuries will qualify as “serious injuries” under New York law:

  • Traumatic brain injuries;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Broken bones;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Organ damage;
  • Loss of a limb or amputation;
  • Miscarriage as a result of the car accident; and
  • Significant facial scarring.

Our Rochester Injury Lawyers Can Help

We know how important it is to receive full and fair compensation for your losses after a motor vehicle collision. We can assist you at every stage of the claims process, from negotiating with the insurance company to litigating a case against the at-fault driver. Do not hesitate to get in touch with an experienced Rochester car accident attorney at our firm. Contact King Law today.

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