Is New York a No-Fault State?

Western New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Is New York a No-Fault State?

When you purchase car insurance in New York, one of the policies you are required to purchase is personal injury protection (PIP). This is no-fault insurance that is designed to promptly pay compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Thus, yes, New York is a no-fault state. But that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Does that mean fault never matters? Is there anything this insurance doesn’t cover?

What PIP Covers

Since you are required to purchase PIP to legally drive in the state, you should know what the policy covers. First, the policy covers you and all family members who live in your household.

Additionally, this policy covers all passengers while you are driving in New York and all New York residents who are passengers when you are driving elsewhere.

If anyone covered by this policy is injured, they can receive compensation for:

  • Necessary medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • A portion of lost earnings due to the injury
  • Minor household and transportation expenses resulting from the accident

Fault is not considered in the policy. Basic PIP covers up to $50,000 per person injured. However, if you are drunk or committing a felony when you get into an accident, the policy won’t cover you.

Serious Injury Threshold and Lawsuits

While it may seem like fault is meaningless in New York car accidents, that isn’t entirely true. There are circumstances where you can sue the at-fault driver to get additional compensation beyond what PIP covers.

If your injuries are serious enough, New York permits you to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To qualify, you must have suffered an injury that meets the “serious injury threshold.” This means that you must have suffered one of the following:

  • Loss of a limb
  • Significant scarring or disfigurement
  • Any type of fracture
  • The loss of an organ
  • Loss of bodily function
  • Any type of permanent disability
  • A significant limitation
  • A non-permanent disability that lasts for at least 90 days

Additionally, you can file a lawsuit if you lose a pregnancy. If none of your injuries meet these criteria, you can still file a lawsuit if you can prove that your actual losses are greater than $50,000. The compensation from any lawsuit will always be for damages incurred beyond the limits of your PIP.

No-Fault Doesn’t Mean Fault Is Irrelevant

The purpose of the no-fault laws in New York is to help victims of an auto accident recover to full health and productivity as quickly as possible. This is why the state requires drivers to maintain PIP that ignores fault.

However, that doesn’t mean that fault is entirely irrelevant. The state will still determine fault if criminal sanctions are appropriate. Additionally, insurance companies raise the insurance rates of drivers who are at fault.

Finally, as previously noted, if you are seriously injured, you should consult with an experienced car accident attorney to determine whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.


Drop a message