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Auto Accidents

There are over 300,000 motor vehicle crashes in New York State per year. Many of these accidents occur right her in Western New York.

New York uses a “no-fault” system when it comes to automobile insurance coverage after a car accident. This means that a driver who has been injured in an accident turns to his or her own insurance company for the payment of medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. In order to step outside of the no-fault system and bring a personal injury lawsuit against another driver over a car accident, you must qualify under the “serious injury” threshold.

If you are seriously injured according to the statutory definition, then you may pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. In the state of New York, you’ve met the “serious injury” threshold if you’ve experienced any of the following because of the car accident:

  • significant disfigurement 
  • bone fracture
  • permanent limitation of use of body organ or member
  • significant limitation of use of body function or system, or
  • substantially full disability for 90 days.


Keep in mind that the no-fault rules only apply to personal injury; if you have suffered property damage as a result of the accident, you’re free to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for those costs.

If you have been in an accident in New York, your first step is to contact your own insurance company to begin receiving payment for your medical expenses.

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in New York

New York requires any operator of a motor vehicle to maintain certain amounts of liability insurance on that vehicle:

  • $25,000 per person personal injury protection (PIP)
  • $50,000 per person for wrongful death protection
  • $50,000 total per accident personal injury protection
  • $100,000 total per accident wrongful death protection
  • $10,000 per occurrence property damage protection


While these are the minimum amounts of coverage required under New York law, you can (and in most cases should) carry a policy with higher limits. If you are found liable for an accident where the damages not only take the case outside of the no-fault scheme but also exceed the limits of your car insurance policy, you may find yourself on the hook to make up the difference out of your own assets.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in N.Y.

New York requires that all automobile policies include uninsured motorist coverage (25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident). Underinsured motorist or supplemental coverage is optional and may or may not be offered by a carrier.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage come into play if you are injured by a motorist who either has no car insurance at all or whose coverage isn’t enough to pay your medical costs and other damages associated with the accident. In such a case, your own insurer would pay your medical costs up to the limits of your UIM coverage.

For more information on UIM coverage, see Uninsured Motorist Coverage: The Basics and Underinsured Motorist Coverage: How It Works.

For more information on New York’s motor vehicle insurance requirements straight from the government, see the N.Y. Department of Motor Vehicles information page on auto 

When an accident happens in Erie County, it is important to do the following immediately:

  • Remain at the crash scene;
  • Check on the condition of all people involved in the crash;
  • Call the police;
  • Exchange information with other drivers;
  • Get contact information from witnesses;
  • Inform your insurance company;
  • Get appropriate medical treatment, and track the details;
  • Take photos of vehicle damage and injuries;
  • Consider hiring a personal injury attorney.

If you or a loved one was injured in a fall down accident, don’t hesitate to contact the law firm of Maxwell Murphy at (716) 885-1300 or toll-free at (877) 870-0997.  Of course, you can also call or text Dan Lukasik any time, day or night, on my cell phone at (716) 913-6309.