What Can You Sue for in a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York?

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
woman thinking what can you sue for in a car accident

If you've suffered a serious physical injury in a car accident, medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation expenses can cost a small fortune. 

In New York, accident victims have the legal right to recover compensation for three types of personal injury damages in a car accident lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive. 

Economic damages cover actual costs like medical bills, while non-economic damages compensate for pain and suffering. Punitive damages aim to punish reckless behavior. 

When negotiating with a car insurance company, understanding these types of damages and working with an experienced personal injury attorney at Raphaelson & Levine can help you navigate the legal process and ensure the best possible outcome.

In this post, you'll learn more about what you can sue for as a car accident victim with a bodily injury, and how to take legal action to protect your rights with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer. 

If you have questions about New York's car accident law or want to speak with an experienced injury lawyer about your car accident claim, call 212-268-3222 or contact us online.

Understanding Lawsuit Damages: Economic, Non-Economic, and Punitive

In New York, damages in personal injury cases are categorized as economic, non-economic, and punitive:

  • Economic Damages: These cover tangible costs such as medical bills and lost wages. If, for example, you've sustained injuries in a car crash, these would include expenses for medical appointments and rehabilitation.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These are for pain and suffering that don't have an exact dollar value but significantly impact your quality of life, like emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages: These are not meant to compensate you but to punish the other party for reckless behavior, such as in cases of drunk driving.

The impact these different types of compensation have on your claim is significant because they cover separate aspects of loss after an auto accident. 

For instance, economic losses would be easy to calculate if you've sustained physical injuries resulting from a car crash or slip-and-fall incident (common examples among New York personal injury cases) since they involve actual expenses such as medical appointments and rehabilitation costs.

A Detailed Look at Economic Damages & Insurance Coverage

no-fault insurance coverage in new york

The role of insurance companies cannot be underestimated when seeking compensation for your injury claim. An insurance company is tasked with covering your medical expenses, but they often fall short when fully addressing a victim’s total economic losses. 

Economic damages aren't just about compensating you for your immediate medical bills and lost wages; they also encompass your future medical needs and lost earning capacity. 

In New York, no-fault auto insurance (also called Personal Injury Protection (PIP)) may provide some relief (up to $50,000 per person) regardless of who was the at fault driver. This includes immediate relief for medical costs, lost wages, and other “reasonable” expenses up to a point without considering the driver who was at fault. 

However, these insurance policies have limits that might not cover all your actual expenses, and coverage may be insufficient to cover everything.

Your loss of earning capacity due to the inability to work or reduced hours forms a crucial part of this calculation.

Learn more: How Does No-Fault Insurance Work in New York?

Managing Medical Expenses & Economic Losses

Tackling rising medical bills after an accident requires understanding what is recoverable within the context of personal injury law. These may include direct costs like doctor visits, medication purchases, or assistive services such as physiotherapy needed after your accident.

Aside from your current out-of-pocket expenditures for health care, future damages should also be factored in while calculating potential settlement amounts. 

Think rehabilitation sessions down the line or follow-up appointments, which can add up over time.

Your ability (or lack thereof) to return to work contributes to lost wages. If you're unable to earn at the same capacity as before, or worse still, face permanent disability due to your injuries – this loss of income forms a major part of economic damages.

With decades of experience handling New York accident cases involving everything from traumatic brain injury to spinal cord damage, a car accident lawyer at Raphaelson & Levine will ensure all of your relevant costs are accounted for when negotiating your claim.

Non-Economic Damages & Their Impact

The impact of a personal injury extends beyond the physical injury sustained. In many cases, car accident victims experience significant emotional distress, which can be equally debilitating.

In New York, such losses are referred to as non-economic damages, which cover pain and suffering that cannot be easily quantified. They encompass the intangible losses that aren't easily quantified but can significantly affect your quality of life.

Pain & Suffering

Pain and suffering is one such category within non-economic damages. This covers not only the physical discomfort experienced after an incident but also mental anguish caused by trauma or loss of enjoyment in life activities.

The calculation for pain and suffering damages varies from case to case since it heavily relies on subjective factors like severity of distress or level of disability incurred due to negligence caused by others.

Mental Distress: An Invisible Burden

Acknowledging mental distress in court helps recognize that a serious accident leaves scars beyond what meets the eye. It's important for accident victims who might feel their experiences have been dismissed simply because they're less visible than other forms of harm.

Harvard Health illustrates how chronic stress (such as experiencing an accident) may lead to serious health complications, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, among others.

How Much Can Someone Sue For a Car Accident in New York?

In the state of New York, there is no specific limit placed on the amount of compensation that a car accident victim can recover for their injuries. This means that victims can potentially seek significant financial recovery for their damages. 

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

Determining Compensation: A Complex Process

Determining compensation isn’t always straightforward; several variables come into play when deciding how much compensation an accident victim deserves, especially for non-economic damages like emotional distress.

Factors such as the severity of your injuries, your age at the time your injury occurred, and whether there's a permanent disability involved are all considered when determining the fair settlement amount.

Punitive damages may also come into play when gross negligence caused harm—think drunk driving or car accidents causing traumatic brain injuries, wrongful death, or spinal cord damage—that results in permanent disability requiring ongoing medical care possibly covered under future economic claims.

Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Raphaelson & Levine can help ensure you receive full and fair compensation that accurately reflects the economic and non-economic damages you've suffered.

The Importance of a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer

Whether it’s coping with financial losses stemming from property damage following a minor car accident, facing hardship through health changes requiring rehab or therapy, or grappling with wrongful death, knowing how to navigate the complex landscape of personal injury law in New York is crucial.

Personal injury cases can be complex, but you don't have to navigate them alone — knowing when to hire an car accident attorney can make a big difference in your recovery. An accident attorney is your guide and advocate, and will help you understand New York law, deal with the insurance company, and ensure your rights are protected through this process.

At Raphaelson & Levine, an experienced personal injury lawyer will provide invaluable assistance in understanding your rights and ensuring they are properly safeguarded. 

We'll investigate your case thoroughly, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and negotiate with car insurance company on your behalf. 

For instance, at Raphaelson & Levine, we've recovered personal injury settlements significantly higher (up to 10X more money) than initial offers for our clients, thanks to our expertise and negotiation skills.

View recent client results: Car Accident Settlements & Verdicts

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies can be challenging to deal with and may not have your best interests at heart. These large corporations' only interests often lie in preserving profits over people’s well-being.

Your lawyer acts as a buffer between you and these entities, ensuring fair treatment throughout your personal injury lawsuit - from claims filing right up until settlement negotiation stages if necessary – so that all parties involved remain focused on what truly matters: getting back health stability following a traumatic event like a motorcycle or car crash.

Free Consultation: Speak with a NYC Car Accident Lawyer 

When you're facing financial strain from medical bills, lost wages, or the emotional toll of a car accident in New York, the road ahead may seem overwhelming.

Remember, you have the right to compensation for an accident's physical and emotional toll. Understanding the types of damages you can sue for in a personal injury claim is the first step to achieving the justice and peace of mind you deserve.

Our firm's skilled car accident attorney will be a trusted guide through this complex insurance claim. They will help unravel the intricacies of insurance coverage and confront the daunting challenge of medical expenses.

This is your opportunity to ask questions about our experience and learn more about your legal options. Our law firm offers free consultations for accident victims seeking justice. This initial meeting lets you discuss your situation without any financial commitment.

If you've been hurt in a crash, we offer free consultations to discuss your situation, evaluate the strength of your car accident case, and provide advice on potential next steps. 

NEXT STEP: Call 212-268-3222 today or contact us online for a free consultation.

FAQs about Types of Damages You Can Sue for in Car Accident Lawsuit in New York

What are special damages under NY law?

Special damages, also known as “economic damages” or “compensatory damages,” cover your out-of-pocket injury-related expenses, like lost wages and/or income, medical bills, property damage, childcare, transportation for medical appointments, rehab costs, and more.

What are the three types of damages?

The three damage types are economic, non-economic, and punitive. They compensate for financial loss, emotional distress, or deter reckless behavior.

What are compensatory damages in New York?

In New York, compensatory damages are meant to reimburse an accident victim for the actual losses they've suffered, such as lost income, hospital and rehab bills, vehicle repairs and/or property damage, and more.

Can you sue for pain and suffering in New York?

An accident victim can sue for pain and suffering in New York. These fall under non-economic damages, which account for physical discomfort or mental anguish in a motor vehicle accident claim.

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, NY. With over thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).

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