Insurance companies do not automatically pay pain and suffering unless a client has qualified for this type of damage and proven that the insurance company is liable. Even then, an insurance company may be reluctant to pay a fair settlement without legal pressure or the threat of a lawsuit. If an insurance company refuses to compensate an accident victim fairly, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit instead.
Accident victims may be able to work with a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate their damages, calculate their value, and negotiate for a fair settlement offer on their behalf.
New York Car Insurance Laws and Pain and Suffering
New York has a no-fault car accident law that requires all motorists to carry a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy of at least $50,000. PIP covers their medical care and lost wages, as well as other fees, according to the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS). In most car accident cases, each injured driver files a claim with their own insurance carrier, submits their documentation, and receives compensation for their economic losses through PIP.
However, PIP does not include compensation for pain and suffering. In order to recover compensation for pain and suffering, car accident victims may need to file a fault-based liability insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. In addition, car accident victims in New York must have a “serious” injury to qualify for pain and suffering damages, per New York Insurance (ISC) §5102. A serious injury may include:
- Dismemberment or disfigurement
- The loss of the use of an organ or a body system
- The loss of a fetus
- An injury that prevents you from doing most of your daily activities for at least 90 out of the first 180 days after the accident
If an Insurance Company Makes You an Offer
If the responsible party’s insurance company contacts you after the accident with a settlement offer that they say includes pain and suffering, use caution. Many settlement offers are final, meaning they may require you to sign a release and forfeit your right to sue for further compensation later on.
In addition, you are not obligated to accept a settlement offer. If you do not believe it compensations you fairly for your damages, you can reject it, negotiate for a new offer, or file a personal injury lawsuit and allow a judge or jury to decide what fair compensation may be in your case.
A personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you during this process by evaluating the fairness of a settlement offer and negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf.
Damages Available in a Personal Injury Case
If you are filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit beyond your PIP policy, the following damages may be available to you:
- Current and future medical expenses related to your accident injuries
- Current lost income and benefits
- Reduced ability to earn if you cannot return to work
- Property damages
- Out-of-pocket costs related to your collision and injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Other intangible losses
An insurance company may or may not automatically pay you for pain and suffering or these other types of damages. However, if you or your lawyer are able to collect evidence of these damages and their value, it may give you leverage to have them included in a settlement offer. If the insurance company refuses to make you a fair offer, you can use this evidence to argue your case on trial instead.
Putting a price on likely future expenses and intangible losses can be difficult, but a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you do this with evidence from your medical records, expert testimony, and other documentation.
Deadline for Lawsuits in New York
New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CVP) §214 sets a general three-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits in New York. If you do not take legal action by this deadline, you may lose your opportunity to recover compensation via a lawsuit.
Protecting your right to sue by acting in a timely manner after your accident can be important in case you cannot reach a fair agreement with the responsible party’s insurance company.
Reach Out to Morelli Law Firm Today for a Free Evaluation
Morelli Law Firm handles personal injury lawsuits in New York City, New York State up to Albany, and on Long Island. We may be able to represent you on a contingency-fee-basis with no up-front payment required.
For a free consultation on your case with a member of our team, call Morelli Law Firm today at (212) 751-9800.