To ease the burden on courts, in 1973 the New York State legislature passed what we now call the No-Fault law for automobile drivers. It was also passed to ensure New Yorkers injured in automobile accidents were promptly paid regardless of their fault to ensure full recovery (Montgomery v. Daniels, 38 N.Y.2d 41 [1975]). Many were injured in accidents and were only able to pay for health care after recovering in suit. This prevented many people from receiving treatment at all.

Therefore, this new law was created to guarantee an injured person could start receiving treatment as soon as possible without worrying about the financial burden. On the other hand, the law took away an injured party’s right to sue the other party unless there was “serious injury.”

The No-Fault law provides there “shall be no right of recovery for non-economic loss (pain and suffering), except in the case of a serious injury, or for basic economic loss” not exceeding $50,000 (Insurance Law § 5104[a]). Unless the injured person is able to show “serious injury,” as defined by § 5102(d) of the Insurance Law, he or she cannot recover for non-economic loss. Courts are required to dismiss claims for non-economic loss where the plaintiff fails to prove serious injury.

Section 5102(d) of the Insurance lists 9 categories of Serious Injury:

  1. Death
  2. Significant disfigurement
  3. Dismemberment
  4. Fracture
  5. Loss of fetus
  6. Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
  7. Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
  8. Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  9. Medically determined Injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

Regardless, if you were injured in a car accident you should know your options. The no-fault law was not enacted to scare accident victims away. If you are injured, you are entitled to no-fault benefits at the very least. If you think you sustained a serious injury, you should contact an attorney and discuss a course of action.

For more information: Call (516) 478-0237
By: Candice L. Deaner, Esq.