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Automobile No-Fault

The New York Legislature put the “No-Fault Law” into effect in 1973. With this law, every owner of a motor vehicle in New York must carry automobile insurance that will pay for the “basic economic loss.” Anybody hurt by the vehicle or vehicle driver in the event of an accident. This is called “no-fault insurance” because the loss (only basic economic) must be paid by the owners insurance, no matter whose fault it is. A motorist must have a minimum of $50,000 of personal injury protection coverage (a.k.a. “no-fault” coverage). In certain situations, a person may not be covered by no-fault benefits for several reasons, including intoxicated driving, intent to cause an accident, injury while perpetrating a felony, or having raced the vehicle when they sustained the injury.

Basic economic loss does not include pain and suffering. Actually, the No-Fault Law does not allow an injured person from a car accident to sue the responsible party for pain and suffering unless the injured person received a “serious injury” such as broken bones, dismemberment, or death.

Some of the purposes of the No-Fault Law, include reducing the number of lawsuits that are filed over minor injuries, and insuring that every person injured in a car accident in New York will be restored to health and productivity as swiftly as possible. The No-Fault Law is helpful in that it allows for prompt payment of medical bills and other actual expenses of the

injured person without requiring proof that any driver was at fault in the accident. However, the law No-Fault does not allow injured persons to recover money for pain and suffering unless a “serious injury” was sustained.

There is much debate over what can be defined as a serious injury. To begin with, the No-Fault Law itself gives certain types of injuries that automatically qualify as “serious injuries”, such as broken bones, dismemberment, and death. There are several other categories of serious injury defined by No-Fault Law. There are specific and short deadlines for many types of car accident claims (i.e., a claim for basic economic loss benefits against a no-fault insurance carrier must be made within 30 days of the accident, or no claims will be paid). Proving negligence and a serious injury involves proof that must be attained and shown in a very specific manner. No-fault insurance carriers typically investigate claims to insure that medical expenses, wage loss and other claims are legitimate and/or medically necessary and can deny any claims they deem unnecessary.

About the Author

Those injured in a car accident are thus strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel from an attorney experienced in automobile no-fault law as soon as possible to insure that all insurance benefits and legal rights are protected and secured to the fullest extent possible under the law.

Written by: Bernard Anderson

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