Who would I sue in a car accident in a no-fault state?
Two of my friends were in a car accident due to a person blowing a stop sign. One of the friends was seriously injured. However I know that New York is a no fault state, although the car accident was clearly the fault of the person who blew the stop sign.
So, who does the injured person need to sue in order to pay for the medical bills? The driver who caused the accident, or both drivers, even though one is not at fault?
The term "no-fault" can be a bit confusing. All it means is that the host vehicle, that is the vehicle in which you are sitting at the time of the accident, is responsible for medical bills (up to $50,000) and lost earnings (up to $2,000 per month for up to 3 years) regardless of fault. These items are referred to as "basic economic loss". Just about everything else depends on fault.
If you sue someone in New York, you cannot recover for "basic economic loss," however, you can recover for pain and suffering and for loss in excess of basic economic loss. To do so, however, you must prove that you have suffered a "serious injury" as that term is defined under New York Insurance law. As you can see, it gets complicated.
Also, even though one car had a stop sign and the other didn't, that doesn't mean the car with the stop sign is 100% to blame, although it likely is. For that reason, as the first attorney to answer your question succinctly put it, you would sue both drivers. In order to get their medical bills paid, however, your friends would have to submit a "no-fault" claim to the insurance company that insured the vehicle in which they were passengers. such a claim must be submitted within 30 days of the date of accident or as soon as practicable thereafter.
My firm is located in downtown Manhattan and handles those kinds of cases. If you or your friends would like to speak with me further on the subject, please do not hesitate to send me an email or call my toll free number, 1-888-LAW-WIRE (1-888-529-9473).
I am sorry to hear about your friends. If the car in which they were riding had a ny license plate (ie was registered in ny) then their medical bills will be covered by the no fault provisions of the insurance policy. There is no need to file a lawsuit for these benefits. However your friends must file a no fault application within 30 days of the accident.
Please do not confuse the receipt of no fault benefits with your friends' rights to sure the drivers for personal injuries as is their right to do.
I would respectfully suggest that your friends hire an attorney competent in these areas of the law. Additionally you can find more information on my website at www.lcjLawFirm.com. Your friends can also contact me directly at RJaffe@lcjLawFirm.com or 516.358.6900
The no-fault benifits always come from the "host" vehicle - the car your friends were riding in. Most lawyers would sue both drivers because until you get summary judgment (a court order saying who was at fault), you never know what a jury will do. I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle accident cases so feel free to check out my web site and contact me to discuss the case.