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May 19, 2024 | Car accident

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident in New York

In New York, there is no specific limit to how much someone can sue for a car accident. Generally, individuals can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage resulting from the accident.

Compensation amounts can vary widely based on the individual circumstances of the case. Factors such as insurance coverage limits and liability laws may also affect the final settlement amount. It's important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can help determine how much the case is worth.

Key factors that impact compensation amounts

In New York car accident lawsuits, the compensation awarded hinges on various factors such as the severity of injuries sustained, financial losses incurred, and the determination of fault. Building a strong case relies heavily on presenting compelling evidence and expert testimony to support claims.

Here’s a simplified breakdown highlighting some key factors and the potential compensation ranges associated with them:

FactorExamplePotential Payout Range
At-Fault DriverEntirely responsible for the crashMay receive reduced compensation due to own liability
Not-At-Fault VictimNot responsible for the accidentEligible for higher compensation, potentially covering all damages
Minor InjuriesCuts, bruises, sprains$1k-$10K, on average, based on medical costs and lost wages
Long-Term Debilitating and Severe InjuriesSevere conditions like spinal cord injury or TBIOver $100K, reflecting long-term healthcare needs and diminished quality of life
Wrongful DeathThe loss of a loved one due to negligent drivingPotentially millions of dollars

The severity of injuries significantly impacts the compensation awarded; more severe disabilities result in substantial car accident settlements. It's important to factor in both immediate and future needs related to medical care, rehabilitation, and loss of earnings due to the condition's impact on the individual's ability to work.

Determining fault is pivotal, particularly within New York’s comparative negligence law framework. No-fault car accident settlements in NY are adjusted according to the claimant's degree of responsibility. 

Our New York City car accident lawyers are experts in maximizing payouts for car accident victims. Come and find out how our law firm can help you get back on track after a car crash

Types of damages: What can you sue for in a car accident?

The damages you can sue for are typically categorized into economic, non-economic, and punitive damages:

Economic damages

Special damages, also known as economic damages, refer to the tangible financial losses the victim incurs as a result of the accident. They are quantifiable and typically have clear monetary values associated with them.

This may include:

  • Previous medical bills
  • Future medical costs
  • Damage to your motor vehicle
  • Lost wages
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the accident

Non-economic damages

General damages, or non-economic damages, include intangible losses that are difficult to measure in financial terms.

Unlike economic damages, which have specific monetary values, non-economic damages are subjective and vary based on the circumstances of each case but generally may compensate victims for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Other non-financial hardships resulting from the accident

Punitive damages

Awarded in less frequent instances, punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are given when the defendant's conduct is especially reckless, intentional, or egregious.

Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim but to punish the defendant. Courts may award punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages, serving as a deterrent rather than a form of compensation.

Additional reading: should I get a lawyer for a minor car accident

For more clarification on the types of damages you may be entitled to and to ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your losses, discover how our team can help you via a free consultation

Who gets sued in a car accident?

The party typically sued depends on the circumstances surrounding the collision and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction. Generally, the at-fault driver is the primary target of a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.  

However, other parties may also be sued depending on the specific situation. For instance, if the accident occurred due to a defect in the vehicle or faulty road conditions, the vehicle manufacturer or the entity responsible for maintaining the roadway might be named as defendants.

Additionally, if the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle owned by someone else, such as a company or another individual, the vehicle's owner may also be held liable under certain legal principles like vicarious liability. It's essential to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident to determine all potentially liable parties and hold them accountable for the damages incurred by the victim.

Additional reading: is it worth getting an attorney for a car accident

How comparative negligence works in New York

In New York, comparative negligence significantly determines the compensation a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury lawsuit, including car accident-related ones. Under this law, the court evaluates the degree of fault assigned to each party involved in the accident. 

If the plaintiff is found partially at fault for the accident, their recoverable damages are reduced proportionally to their percentage of fault. For instance, if the plaintiff is deemed 20% responsible for the accident and their total damages amount to $10,000, they would only be able to recover $8,000 (i.e., $10,000 - 20%) from the other at-fault party.

However, New York follows a pure comparative negligence system, meaning that even if the plaintiff is predominantly at fault, they can still recover damages, albeit reduced by their percentage of fault.

Additional reading: who is at fault in a rear end collision

Underinsured drivers

The impact of insurance laws

Being familiar with insurance laws is essential when dealing with car accidents in New York. These laws govern how compensation is obtained and distributed following an accident.

Insurance coverage plays a significant role in determining the compensation available to victims. New York operates under a no-fault insurance system, which means that regardless of fault, each party's insurance covers their medical expenses and lost wages up to a certain limit.

Underinsured drivers

Drivers whose insurance policies do not provide enough coverage to fully compensate accident victims for their damages are referred to as underinsured.

In cases where the at-fault driver's insurance limit is exceeded by the damages incurred by the victim, the victim may pursue additional compensation through their underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage helps bridge the gap between the at-fault driver's insurance limit and the actual damages suffered by the victim up to the policy's limit.

Uninsured drivers

Drivers without insurance pose a challenge in car accident cases because they lack coverage to compensate victims for their injuries and damages. However, New York law mandates uninsured motorist coverage in all auto insurance policies unless explicitly waived by the insured.

This coverage serves as a safety net for victims of accidents with uninsured drivers, allowing them to seek compensation from their insurance company. As a result, victims can file a claim against their insurer for damages caused by an uninsured driver up to the limits of their uninsured motorist coverage.

Factors that impact how much you can sue for in a car accident

Several factors influence the amount of compensation you can sue for in a car accident claim:

  • Severity of your injuries
  • Extent of property damage
  • Amount of lost wages
  • Cost of medical expenses
  • The level of pain and suffering you've endured
  • Any long-term disability or disfigurement resulting from the accident

Additionally, New York's liability laws may affect the compensation you receive based on your degree of fault in the accident.

If you're wondering when should I get a lawyer for a car accident, the answer is as soon as possible. With a New York state car accident claim lawyer, you can minimize the factors that impact your case.

The process for suing someone

If you're considering suing someone for a car accident in New York, the legal process tends to be:

  1. Filing a complaint or summons against the at-fault party in civil court.
  2. Both parties engage in discovery, where evidence is exchanged, and depositions may be taken.
  3. The case may proceed to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation or mediation.

Having knowledge of the New York car accident statute of limitations is also critical, as it sets a deadline for filing your lawsuit, typically within three years from the date of the accident. Missing this deadline can prevent you from seeking compensation altogether.

Throughout this process, having legal representation is key to understanding the legal system's complexities and car accident lawyer fees in New York

Need expert legal advice in NY?

If you've been involved in an auto accident and need expert legal advice, consulting with an experienced attorney is essential. Knowing what to do after a car accident in New York can make a significant difference in your case. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can assess your situation, explain your legal rights, and guide you through seeking compensation for your injuries and damages.

Whether you're negotiating with insurance companies or considering filing a lawsuit, having a skilled legal advocate on your side can greatly impact the outcome of your case.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with one of our highly skilled car accident lawyers.


Can I sue for a car accident if I was partially at fault?

You can still sue for a car accident even if you were partially at fault. In many states, including New York, comparative negligence laws allow you to recover damages proportionate to the other party's fault. However, your compensation may be reduced based on your percentage of fault.

How soon after a car accident should I consult an attorney?

It's advisable to consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Prompt legal advice can help protect your rights, gather key evidence, and navigate the complexities of insurance claims. Waiting too long to seek legal counsel could jeopardize your case.

How long does it take to settle a car accident lawsuit?

The duration of a car accident lawsuit settlement varies depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case, the severity of injuries, and negotiations with insurance companies. While some cases settle relatively quickly, others may take months or even years to resolve.

Will my car accident case go to trial?

Not all car crash cases go to trial. Many are resolved through out-of-court settlements negotiated between parties and their attorneys. Trials are typically reserved for cases where parties cannot reach a settlement agreement. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action based on your case's circumstances.

What does it cost to hire a car accident attorney?

Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only collect a fee if they win your case. Typically, this fee is a percentage of the settlement or court award. If your case is unsuccessful, you generally don't owe any legal fees, although you may still be responsible for certain expenses.

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