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What Happens When A Car Hits You From Behind In New York?

When a car hits you from behind in New York , you may experience whiplash, a common injury from this type of collision. Whiplash can affect your upper back, neck, and shoulders, preventing you from returning to work, and thereby affecting your ability to provide for your family, pay your rent/mortgage, and perform your usual activities of daily living. 

New York is a No-Fault State, So Your Insurance Company Will Cover Costs

New York is a no-fault state, which means that your insurance company will directly pay to a provider (of medical services, for example) or reimburse you for your certain costs related to your accident, regardless of who caused it.

Under New York’s no-fault system, your insurer will pay:

  • All medical costs, up to a $50,000. limit, unless you carry additional P.I.P. (personal injury protection) for treatment of injuries caused by the accident
  • Up to three years of lost wages, up to $2,000/month, if you are medically disabled as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident
  • Other accident-related expenses ($25/day for up to one year following the accident for such expenses as travel to and from medical treatment or assistance for chores at home that you are medically disabled from performing as a result of the accident

You have 30 days from the date of the car accident in which to file a claim for benefits with your insurance provider. If you retain our firm to represent you in connection with your hit-in-rear car accident injuries, we will complete this form, the NF-2, on your behalf.

Reaching a No-Fault Threshold to Sue the At-Fault Driver for Personal Injury

In almost all cases, a rear-end collision is found to be the fault of the trailing vehicle, not the leading vehicle.

Because New York is a no-fault state, you would first turn to your insurance company for payment of your medical costs, etc.

If you want to pursue legal action against the driver who rear-ended your vehicle, demanding recovery of damages beyond what your insurance company has paid, you will need to reach—and prove that you have reached— a no-fault threshold.

The no-fault threshold in New York requires proof that your economic losses from your accident exceeded $50,000.

You can also meet New York’s no-fault threshold if your accident caused you “serious injuries,” as defined in the state’s insurance statutes.

Understanding New York’s Definition of “Serious Injury”

According to New York Insurance Law § 5102(d), “serious injury” pertains to a personal injury that results in any of the following:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of a body organ, member, function, or system
  • Permanent limitation of a body organ, member, function, or system
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Medically determined injury that prevents the victim from experiencing typical daily activities for at least 90 days within 180 days after the accident

It is worth noting is that by meeting New York’s no-fault threshold, you not only can receive compensation for expenses beyond $50,000 but also additional, non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.

When a rear-end collision causes the death of a family member or loved one, you have the right to pursue a wrongful death action.

Steps to Filing a Civil Lawsuit

If you qualify to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, and you plan to embark down this path, here is a preview of what the plaintiff’s attorneys in such a case typically undertake:

  • Prove Negligence – Any personal injury lawsuit requires that the plaintiff prove four things:
    1. Establish that the defendant had a duty of care to take reasonable steps to keep you from harm (as all motorists do)
    2. Prove that the defendant failed to fulfill this duty
    3. Illustrate how this failure caused your accident
    4. Prove that the accident caused your injuries and other damages
  • Gather Evidence – Collect medical records, police reports, photos, videos, witness accounts, work records, etc., to help prove that the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to keep other motorists safe and that his failure caused him or her to rear-end your vehicle
  • Collaborate With Experts – Solicit opinions and testimonies from economists and experts (medical, vocational, and life planning) to depict how the accident caused your injuries that ultimately led to the damages you are seeking to recover
  • Calculate Your Damages – A plaintiff will need to itemize how the accident injuries  have, do, and will continue to affect you economically and non-economically. Typically this is done with the input of an economist, who will know how to realistically extrapolate meaningful numbers that accurately represent the extent of your damages.
  • Present Your Damages to the At-Fault Party’s Insurer – Your lawyer will compose a demand letter to the offending driver’s insurance company, listing your damages. More than likely  there will be negotiation with the insurer to get the best possible money recovery in settlement of your claim.  
  • File a Lawsuit in Civil Court – If the at-fault driver’s insurance company does not agree to an appropriate settlement, the next step is to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. Will Handle Every Step in Your Rear-End Collision Case

The legal team at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. will help you navigate your rear-end collision, proving your serious injuries meet the threshold and tackling every step in your personal injury lawsuit. Our multilingual staff can work with you in Greek, English, Spanish, Tamil, Bengali, and Kannada. We are happy to meet you on Long Island or elsewhere in the New York Metropolitan area to discuss your case. And remember, we do not charge you unless and until you are compensated. Call 516-932-0400 today for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation.

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