How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident?

Andrew Levine
Partner, Attorney

Can Someone Sue for Negligence in a Car Accident?

Suffering the effects of a car accident can be scary, especially if you or one of your passengers has suffered injuries. In May 2020, the NYPD reported there were 5,935 motor vehicle collisions, causing 1,161 injuries and seven deaths. These numbers demonstrate the number of motor vehicle accidents in just one month in one city. Unfortunately, car accidents happen all too often in New York City and many of them are caused by negligence.

Are You the Victim of a Negligent Driver in NYC?

For more than 30 years, Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm has been advocating for the rights of New York car accident victims. Our compassionate attorneys understand the challenges and difficulties people struggle with after a motor vehicle collision occurs. Injuries can be severe or ongoing, and those who have been hurt can lose the ability to perform in their jobs, costing them their livelihoods. To learn more about legal options after a collision occurs, call the car accident attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine at 212-268-3222.

What is ‘No-Fault’ Insurance?

New York State is a “no-fault” state. Essentially, this means is car accident victims must first attempt to collect compensation from their own automobile insurance company, even if they didn’t cause the accident. All New York drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage which includes:

  • Liability insurance of $25,000 for bodily injury to one person
  • Liability insurance of $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons
  • Minimum of $10,000 for property damage for one accident
  • No-fault coverage of at least $50,000

There are also several other optional car insurance coverages motorists can add on to their insurance policy.

Unfortunately, many insurance companies try to get away with paying as little as possible to car accident victims. As a result, they don’t receive enough compensation to cover their medical expenses, fix the damage to their cars, or cover their usual bills if their injuries interfere with their ability to work.

In the aftermath of a motor vehicle collision, many people turn to experienced attorneys who can outline their rights and advocate on their behalf to obtain the level of compensation from car insurance companies they are entitled to receive. An experienced car accident lawyer can also determine if victims have the basis to file a lawsuit against the other driver.

Can Someone Sue for Negligence After a Car Accident?

It’s important to understand even though NYS is a no-fault insurance state, victims of car crashes still have the right to pursue justice and compensation for their injuries, damages to personal property, or pain and suffering. This is allowed when a driver is deemed to be negligent.

By definition, negligence is when someone fails to use a level of ordinary care. When it comes to motor vehicle crashes, this means the driver didn’t exercise the type of care considered to be reasonable or prudent in normal circumstances. It could also mean a failure to act which led to an injury.

Since motor vehicle accidents are not usually intentional, the law looks to see what type of action(s) caused the accident. Negligent acts that can be committed by a driver include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Drowsy driving
  • Speeding
  • Running through traffic signals or signs
  • Disobeying traffic laws
  • Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics estimate 400,000 people in 2018 were injured in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers. Sadly, another 2,800 people that year were killed due to distracted driving.

Eating and drinking are activities that can draw a driver’s eye from the road, but one of the most common negligent acts is drivers using cellphones while operating a vehicle.

  • Talking (especially dialing or using video phone calls)
  • Texting
  • Opening apps, including maps
  • Checking social media or using the internet

Since acts of negligence are generally preventable, at-fault drivers can be held accountable for the injuries and damages they cause due to their reckless and/or careless behavior.

What is ‘Gross Negligence’?

Gross negligence is another type of negligence. It is defined as the failure to exercise care or diligence and that failure leads to a personal injury or property getting damaged. Courts may award punitive damages if gross negligence is proven.

In New York’s legal system, it is often difficult to demonstrate because courts only award punitive damages when the defendant is especially malicious or intentional. This is an important reason to pursue legal consultation because an experienced personal injury lawyer will know what type of legal strategy to use.

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident?

New York State looks at several factors when assigning blame in an accident. For instance, it may be found a defendant is 80% responsible for an accident while the victim is 20%. This is known as pure comparative negligence and impacts how much compensation is awarded. New York Courts also look at factors such as:

  • Costs of medical bills incurred
  • Documentation of injuries sustained
  • Amount of property damage 
  • Severity of injuries

Essentially, the amount of compensation that can be awarded will vary greatly depending upon the circumstances of the crash and what the severity of injuries and damages were. To meet the criteria for what the state deems to be a “serious injury”, New York has established a “threshold” that must be met. If the injury is severe or debilitating enough to meet this threshold, the court is more likely to award a higher amount of compensation in car accident cases. 

In lieu of a personal injury lawsuit, oftentimes an attorney can negotiate a settlement offer rather than going to court. With a settlement, the victim receives money more quickly to help them pay medical bills, recoup lost wages, or get any other medical care, treatment, or therapy they need. This also avoids going through the stresses associated with trials.

Learn more: How much can someone sue for a car accident?

How Soon Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

Under New York State Law, victims of car accidents must initiate a personal injury case within three years from the date of the accident. This is known as a statute of limitations. Once three years passes, the ability to initiate a car accident lawsuit against the other driver expires. Because of this limitation, it’s important to always seek medical treatment after an accident to have it documented. Injuries and disabilities, such as head, back, or neck injuries, don’t always show up right away because symptoms appear gradually. It’s important to have all details on record.

The stronger a victim’s documentation is in the aftermath of a car accident, the better case they’ll have in the event they can’t work or suffer a reduced quality of life. After a victim obtains medical treatment, they should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can then create further documentation that may be needed in the future. It takes time to build a strong case for negligence.

Call the Personal Injury Attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine Today

At Raphaelson & Levine, we represent victims of injuries caused by car accidents every day. We pride ourselves in our role as the “voice of the injured” for the greater New York area. If you, or a loved one, have suffered due to the negligence of another driver, the attorneys at our law firm are here to support you. We’ll document the circumstances surrounding the accident and help you obtain any additional documentation you’ll need to have a strong case.

To learn more about the legal process surrounding a car accident in New York, or if you have any questions about your rights or how much someone can sue for a car accident, contact us at 212-268-3222 to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. You can also complete our online consultation form. The Raphaelson & Levine law firm values the attorney-client relationship and will do what we can to help you to receive justice.

Andrew Levine
Partner, Attorney
Andrew J. Levine is a partner at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, in New York, NY. A graduate of Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. Mr. Levine has been featured in New York Magazine as one of New York’s “Top Personal Injury Litigators” and recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in New York.”

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