If I have been injured in a car accident, do I have to sue the driver of the vehicle that hit me?

As we have previously discussed in this blog, No-Fault is mandatory on every insured vehicle in New York State. Therefore, you do not have to sue in order to receive medical and lost wages. Your No-Fault insurance company will pay for your medical and lost wages with certain limitations, up to $50,000 regardless of who is at fault for the accident. More coverage may be available if you purchased additional No-Fault coverage beyond the statutory minimum of $50,000.

However, if you want to claim damages beyond No-Fault, you may need to file a lawsuit. One of the elements that you will need to prove is that you have met the serious injury threshold. New York Insurance Law Section 5102(d) defines serious injury in nine categories. Accordingly, you will have met the serious injury standard if you sustain a personal injury that results in:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of 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
  • 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.

Consequently, the serious injury threshold makes it more difficult for you to sue for additional damages beyond No-Fault. It is obvious that the Legislature intended to keep what they consider to be minor personal injury cases out of Court. Therefore, it is important for you to have an attorney that will fight hard to protect your right to be compensated for your injuries.

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