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New York Automobile Accident Guide: Questions and Answers

What does "No-fault Insurance" mean and how does it apply to me if I am injured?

Generally, certain benefits for injuries received in a motor vehicle accident are payable regardless of who caused the accident. For example, if you are involved in an automobile accident and have automobile insurance coverage, your own insurance company is responsible for the medical bills you have incurred as a result of your injuries. If your injuries prevent you from working, your insurance company should also pay you 80% of your lost wages up to a maximum of $2,000.00 per month. Combined "no fault" benefits are limited to $50,000.00 (unless you have purchased additional coverage).

What can I recover from an "at fault" driver?

In New York, a person has a right to recover compensation from the driver who caused the accident. However, a person injured in an automobile accident must first meet what is commonly referred to as the "tort thresholds" before he or she can receive any compensation. If any one of the conditions listed below applies, legal action may be pursued:

  • You have sustained an injury or serious disfigurement as defined by statute, such as broken bones, back or neck injury.
  • You are disabled for 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the accident.
  • There is a death as a result of the accident.


Note: If there is a probability that one or more of the conditions will be met, preliminary legal steps should be taken promptly to protect your interest.

If the other driver lacks automobile insurance, can I still be compensated for my injuries?

If the other driver is not insured or has inadequate coverage, you may make a claim against your own insurance company for Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Benefits.

Will filing an accident report increase my insurance premiums?

Filing an accident report alone is not likely to trigger a premium increase. Typically, insurance companies will only react to claims made against a policy. However, insurance is a competitive business and, within state regulations, companies may set different standards. Check with your company or the New York Insurance Department regarding their policy on a "chargeable" accident.

Why is it important to contact a qualified attorney and have an early investigation of an auto accident

Time is of the essence when investigating an auto accident. It is in your best interest to have your attorney gather information promptly from witnesses, take photographs, and fully investigate the facts concerning your accident.

Also, there are certain legal procedures which, if not strictly followed, could prevent you from pursuing any claim you might have. By sharing your information with an experienced attorney in a timely fashion, you can be advised immediately about your rights and how to protect and preserve your claim.

When should I file an accident report with the State of New York?

Complete a New York Motor Vehicle Accident Report if your accident involves personal injury or property damage of $1,000.00 or more. Failure to complete and file this form within ten days of an accident is a violation of New York law. Accident report forms can be obtained from your insurance agent.

Accident Tips

  • Stop! According to New York Law, you must stop if you are involved in an accident.
  • Turn off ignition to reduce the risk to fire.
  • Warn Others by activating the four-way flashers on your vehicle, use of flares, reflective devices, or with the assistance of other people at the scene to avoid further accident or injury.
  • Obtain medical assistance. Generally you should administer first aid only to the extent that you are trained and qualified to do so.
  • Call local police, state police, or sheriff. Dial 911. Cooperate with the police officer by answering his questions simply and directly.
  • Exchange driver information. All drivers involved in an accident must give their name, address, date of birth, the registration number of their vehicle, proof of ownership, name and address of their automobile insurance company and provide proof of insurance. If this information is unavailable at the scene, the driver must provide this information within 72 hours from the date of the accident. Failure to do so is a violation of New York law.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury attorney before you contact your insurance company. Your conversation will be confidential, whether or not you retain the attorney.


Notify your insurance company and report the accident, even if:

  • it is not serious
  • it was not your fault
  • you do not have ail the facts.


An unreported claim may jeopardize your right to coverage under your insurance policy.

  • Don't leave the scene of an accident until you have obtained ail of the information necessary to complete the accident information form in this guide. If someone is injured in the accident, do not leave the scene until the police or state patrol officer has given you permission to leave.
  • Don't move injured persons who are incapacitated unless they are in danger from traffic, fire, etc., or in other emergency situations.
  • Don't admit fault or apologize to anyone, including the police. A thorough investigation may reveal facts which you may not be aware of at the time of the accident.
  • Don't delay in notifying your insurance company of the accident, but do not give them (or anyone else) an oral or written statement concerning the accident until you have had a chance to consult with a qualified attorney. Your remarks and statements could be used against you!
  • Don't be careless when completing the accident report or other forms. Mistakes or inconsistencies may come back to haunt you.


This article was provided courtesy of BURGETT & ROBBINS. If you have specific questions regarding your legal rights under New York law for injuries sustained in an automobile accident, please feel free to call us at (800) 832-6582. 

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