New York Personal Injury Laws Staff Profile Picture
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There are complex laws pertaining to personal injury cases in New York, but New Yorkers should understand their rights and responsibilities.

Civil actions can be filed in court in New York for any wrongdoing caused by another that results in physical injury or property damage. This can include slips and falls, auto accidents, medical malpractice cases, product liability claims, etc.

According to the New York State Department of Health, more than 155,000 individuals are injured severely enough to require hospitalization every year, and unintentional injury hospitalization rates have increased since 2001.

Knowing your legal rights is vital to understanding how you can receive compensation for any harm caused by another person or company. In this overview of New York Personal Injury Laws, we explore topics like the statute of limitations, negligence law, and more.

No-Fault Car Insurance

No-fault car insurance is an essential topic for New York drivers to understand. It helps protect drivers from financial losses and ensures that the injured parties receive compensation for their injuries, regardless of who was at fault.

No-fault car insurance pays for medical bills, lost wages due to injury or illness caused by the accident, and other costs incurred due to an accident. If drivers do not have sufficient coverage under their policy, they can file a claim against other drivers' policies to cover their remaining damages.

No-fault car insurance includes personal injury protection (PIP). This will cover medical costs when you're injured in an accident, no matter who caused it or how severe your injuries are. It also covers funeral costs if you die from your injuries.

New York state has strict requirements for auto insurance. Drivers must carry PIP coverage of at least $50,000 per person and liability coverage with limits of $25,000/$50,000/$10,000 for bodily injury per person, bodily injury per accident, and property damage per accident, respectively.

New York Serious Injury Threshold

Since New York is a no-fault state, you can only sue another driver for damages if your injuries are severe. This is known as the serious injury threshold. To sue another driver for a personal injury in New York, you must prove that you suffered a serious injury as defined by New York law. 

For an injury to qualify as a serious injury, it must involve either death, disfigurement, fractures, permanent loss of use of a body organ or member, the limitation of use of a body system or function, or loss of hearing and sight. If your injury is considered severe, you may be able to sue the other driver for damages related to medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Pure Comparative Negligence in New York

Although you may be able to sue another party for damages following a personal injury, whether you receive compensation will depend on how much you are to blame.

The pure comparative negligence law determines liability and damages when two or more parties are at fault for an accident. When you sue another person for causing injury in New York, each party is assigned a certain percentage of liability.

Under New York’s pure comparative negligence system, if your actions contributed to your injury, your total award will be adjusted directly to the level of fault the jury assigns you.

For example, if you suffer an injury in an accident, and the jury determines that you are 40% responsible for the accident, then you’ll receive 60% of the total award. This rule allows victims of accidents to receive at least some compensation for their damages, even if they are partially at fault.

How New York Calculates Pain and Suffering

In New York State, damages for pain and suffering are calculated based on the severity of your injury. You’ll need to demonstrate how your injury has impacted your life physically and emotionally. For example, suppose you suffer a personal injury that leads to reduced future earnings, loss of companionship, or mental anguish. In that case, you may be eligible to receive compensation for pain and suffering.

Courts use several methods to determine the amount of damages awarded for pain and suffering in New York State. Generally speaking, courts will look at factors such as age, occupation, pre-existing conditions, and level of disability when calculating these kinds of damages. A number of factors may be considered when determining how much you should receive for your pain and suffering, including the duration of your symptoms.

Unlike other states, New York has no cap on pain and suffering damages. Consequently, the amount that can be recovered for pain and suffering is dependent on the unique circumstances of each case.

Injuries From Dogs or Other Animals

New York doesn’t have specific laws regarding injuries sustained after being bitten by a dog or another animal. In general, the animal owner is liable if you can prove that the owner knew or should have known that the animal was dangerous.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Laws

Workers’ compensation insurance protects employees who sustain injuries or illnesses while on the job. Employers in New York are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages when employees are injured during their employment. 

Workers' compensation laws in New York also require employers to pay attorney's fees and other legal costs related to workplace injuries and illnesses.

Dram Shop Liability

Dram shop liability laws in New York hold bar owners, restaurants, and other establishments responsible for any harm caused by intoxicated customers. 

If an alcohol-related incident results in a person being injured or killed due to another person's negligence at an establishment that serves alcohol, the injured party may be able to seek compensation from the establishment. 

These laws also allow family members of an individual harmed by a business owner’s negligent service of alcohol to file a claim for damages. This law is meant to deter businesses from serving alcohol irresponsibly and prevent intoxicated individuals from causing harm to others.

Personal Injury Claims Against the Government

When someone is injured due to the negligence of government personnel or officials, they may be able to file a personal injury claim against the government under certain conditions outlined by New York personal injury laws. 

These claims must be filed within 90 days of when the injury occurred. Damages awarded through these claims are typically capped at $10 million per person. However, additional awards can be granted depending on individual circumstances like mental anguish or physical pain experienced due to the injury sustained.

It’s also important to note that filing a claim against a government entity can often take longer than filing a lawsuit against an individual or private entity due to specific procedures that need to be followed.

New York Business Liability Insurance Requirements

New York doesn’t require businesses to carry general liability insurance, though they do require almost all companies to have workers’ compensation and commercial auto insurance.

New York requires all businesses with full-time or part-time employees to have workers’ compensation insurance and disability insurance. This protects both the employee and employer in the event of a workplace accident or injury. 

Commercial auto insurance is also required for businesses that have vehicles used for business purposes, such as delivery or transportation services. New York’s requirements for commercial auto insurance are as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person

  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident

  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident

  • $50,000 personal injury protection

While general liability insurance isn’t required, nearly all businesses benefit from having an active business liability insurance policy as it can prevent them from sustaining significant financial damages if a customer sues them after suffering a personal injury. Liability insurance can also cover products or services that may cause harm, such as medical malpractice, personal injury, and property damage.

How Much Can Someone Sue for an Injury in New York?

The circumstances of each case limit injury claims in New York. An injured plaintiff in New York generally receives compensation for economic and non-economic losses as part of their damages for the injury. 

Economic damages are those that directly affect the victim's financial well-being. The costs may include medical expenses, lost wages due to an inability to work, and any other costs associated with the injury. These damages are often calculated using medical bills, documentation of the injury, type of injury, estimated recovery time, and other factors.

Among the things covered by non-economic compensation are pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. It can be difficult to quantify these things. In New York State, there is no legal cap on non-economic damages, meaning the amount of non-economic damages you can sue for depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your case.

The Statute of Limitations in New York

In New York, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits is three years. This means that you have three years from the date of the accident that caused your injury to file a suit against the party that you feel caused the accident.

If you don’t pursue legal action within this time period, the New York court system will typically refuse to hear your case. There are some exceptions to this statute of limitations. For example, victims of medical malpractice have two years and six months from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit.

Legal Resources for Injured Folks in New York

When it comes to seeking compensation for personal injury in New York, it is crucial for victims to be informed about their rights and options. Fortunately, there are numerous legal resources available to assist them in navigating the legal process. These resources provide access to information, guidance, and representation for those in need.

New York State Bar Association (NYSBA)

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) provides resources for victims of injury and their families. They provide information on how to obtain legal representation, as well as a directory listing for personal injury attorneys in New York.

On the NYSBA website, individuals can get free attorney referrals and learn more about client rights and responsibilities. NYSBA also provides a range of resources for different types of injury victims, including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, and premises liability.


New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA)

The New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) is an organization of attorneys who specialize in personal injury law. The organization provides resources to help injured individuals understand their rights, locate qualified attorneys, and provide educational opportunities for lawyers practicing in the field. NYSTLA has a number of programs available to its members, including continuing legal education seminars. 

The NYSTLA also provides information on current laws and regulations concerning personal injury litigation and works to protect the rights of individuals who have been injured due to negligence or wrongdoing.


New York State Office of the Attorney General (OAG)

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) provides legal advice and services to state agencies and represents the state in all civil and criminal matters. 

The OAG provides resources to protect individuals from fraud, abuse, and exploitation. They also assist victims with their legal rights and help them access necessary services. 

The OAG also provides public education programs that offer information about consumer protection, personal safety, and other topics. By visiting the OAG website, individuals can also find many legal resources for New York residents, including a consumer protection guide and an online library of legal documents.


New York City Comptroller

For residents of New York City, the New York City Comptroller provides a helpful Q&A regarding personal injury claims.

Individuals can use this resource to learn how to file a personal injury claim, understand how the claim process works, and learn how long it may take to resolve a personal injury claim.


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