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Understanding New York Personal Injury Protection

Car accidents can lead to serious injuries, which usually mean serious expenses. To speed up compensation for accident victims, New York has enacted a no-fault insurance system. Under the state’s no-fault system, car insurance policies must include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which compensates the policyholder for accident injuries regardless of who is at fault.

Although the no-fault system is designed to simplify compensation for car accidents, it has some intricacies of its own. That’s why anyone who has been injured in an accident would be wise to contact a lawyer before accepting any kind of settlement with their own insurance company.

What Is PIP Coverage?

PIP is a type of coverage that compensates the policyholder for any injury they suffer in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. It should not be confused with Bodily Injury coverage, which compensates people injured by the policyholder if the policyholder negligently causes an accident.

As no-fault coverage, PIP is available to cover injuries even when the policyholder is at fault for the accident. There are only a few narrow exceptions to this rule: PIP does not cover intentional injuries, injuries caused by driving while intoxicated, or injuries suffered while committing a felony or fleeing from police.

What Does PIP Pay For?

PIP covers economic losses from an accident up to the policy limit of the coverage. When buying a car insurance policy, a driver selects their PIP policy limit, which can be as low as $50,000. Higher limits mean higher premiums, and limits cannot be changed retroactively. Most accidents are relatively minor, and the average PIP claim is only $9,041.74.

PIP covers only economic losses. New York law defines economic losses as past, present, and future medical bills for an injury as well as lost wages for time a person must spend recovering from their injury. However, economic losses do not include pain and suffering or other non-monetary losses like lifestyle changes. To be compensated for those sorts of losses, a person must sue the driver at fault.

In addition, PIP does not cover damage to a policyholder’s vehicle. As the name suggests, PIP covers only costs related to personal injury, not property damage.

Is it Still Possible to Sue the Other Driver?

The no fault system is designed to reduce the number of lawsuits arising from car accidents by having car insurers pay out regardless of fault. However, it is still possible to sue another driver for causing a serious injury. New York Insurance Law 5102(d) defines serious injury as any of the following:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Loss of the use of a limb or organ
  • Permanent impairment of the function of a limb or organ
  • Any injury that prevents a person from performing daily tasks for at least 90 days

While some of these injuries may be obvious, whether someone is permanently impaired or prevented from performing daily tasks might be subject to dispute. Generally, proving injuries like this requires expert testimony from a doctor, and the chances of success are much better with an attorney’s help.

A lawsuit against the driver at fault is the only way to receive compensation over the amount of one’s PIP policy limit. In addition, it is the only way to receive compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic injuries. Given this, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer about filing a suit against the driver at fault if one is involved in any serious accident.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Personal Injury Protection required in New York?

Yes. New York requires all car insurance policies to include at least $50,000 in PIP coverage.

Do I need PIP if I have health insurance?

PIP and health insurance both pay for medical bills, so someone with a good health insurance policy may not need as much PIP coverage. However, unlike PIP, health insurance will not pay for lost wages for time off work.

What is the difference between PIP and bodily injury coverage?

PIP is first-party coverage, meaning it compensates the policyholder for their own injuries. Bodily injury is third-party coverage, meaning it pays liability that the policyholder owes to a third party if the policyholder is at fault for an accident

What is Optional Basic Economic Loss?

Optional Basic Economic Loss, or OBEL, is an additional type of PIP coverage that New York requires all car insurers to offer. OBEL adds an additional $25,000 to a policy’s PIP coverage limit, which can be applied to any type of economic loss as the policyholder chooses in the event of an accident (such as lost wages or medical expenses).

How much does PIP cost?

The exact cost of PIP varies based on the policyholder’s age, driving record, vehicle type, place of residence, and other factors. On average, a 30-year old unmarried man pays $110 per policy period, while a married couple in their 40s pays about $140.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Rosenblum Law for a free consultation today. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can evaluate your options and help you file a PIP claim as well as see if other sources of compensation are available. Call 888-815-3649 or email us today.

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