Five people were injured yesterday afternoon when a car hit a utility pole in Gorham, Ontario County. The accident apparently happened like this: A southbound car carrying 4 passengers on Route 245 tried to pass a vehicle, didn’t see the oncoming vehicle until it was too late, and then swerved off the road to avoid a collision, striking the utility pole. Sadly, several of the victims are children.
Mistakes happen, and this driver clearly made a mistake by attempting to pass when it was unsafe to do so. Fortunately, New York car accident laws help innocent victims of careless driving recover for their injuries. And the insurance carrier for the driver (and owner) of the passing car will almost certainly be held financially responsible for this unfortunate accident.
What rights do the passengers have?
First, they each have a right to $50,000 in “no-fault” benefits from the at-fault car’s insurance. This is to cover any lost wages and medical expenses.
Second, if the passengers own their own motor vehicle, or a relative who lives with them does, they might be able to get additional no-fault benefits (called “additional personal injury protection“) from those other insurance policies (depending on the coverage limits in those other policies). No-fault applications must be made within 30 days of the accident.
Third, the passengers have the right to make a “liability” claim against the driver/owner of the at-fault car. A “liability” claim is for pain and suffering compensation, as well as for any medical expenses and lost wages that go beyond the no-fault monetary limit. The amount of coverage available depends on: (1) the insurance policy limit of the at-fault car (the minimum in New York is $25k per person and $50k per accident); (2) if the driver did not own this vehicle, but owns one or a relative he lives with owns one, more insurance might be available through that other vehicle’s auto insurance; (3) if any of the passengers own vehicles, or reside with relatives that do, they might have some additional coverage known as “SUM” (supplemental underinsured motorist coverage).
New York car accident auto insurance is actually a complex patchwork of insurances. Only an experienced New York car accident lawyer can properly investigate all potential insurance coverage to maximize the funds available to help car accident victims recover.
We wish a speedy recovery to all the Gorham car accident victims.
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.