By A. Craig Purcell
We recently wrote about the primary benefit New York automobile owners and drivers enjoy under the New York No-Fault Insurance Law. This benefit requires your own insurance company to pay, at a minimum, the first $50,000.00 of your reasonable medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident. However, there are several additional benefits New York insureds have under their auto insurance policy.
First among these benefits is the No-Fault law’s very important lost earnings provision. You are entitled to recover 80% of your lost earnings from your own insurance company, up to a maximum of $2,000.00 a month for three years. How do you go about obtaining your lost earnings? You must file a No-Fault Insurance Application with your own insurance company within 30 days of your accident. It is your responsibility to notify your insurance company as quickly as possible — hopefully within a day or two — so your carrier can provide you with the application promptly. This is generally done by email these days. In order to qualify for lost earnings, you must make sure that your employer provides proof of your loss of income within 90 days. It is your responsibility to ensure that your employer does this in a timely fashion.
A second significant benefit you may be entitled to is payment of out-of-pocket expenses. These might include Uber or taxi rides to medical appointments, ambulance expenses, damage to significant personal property that was in your automobile, medications and many other associated expenses. Moreover, there may be other applicable expenses that an injured party may incur that should be covered. Just as is the case for obtaining lost earnings, it is equally important that a No-Fault Application be timely filed and that payment or reimbursement be sought as soon as the out-of-pocket expenses are incurred.
Finally, expenses incurred for medical devices is a significant benefit. Items such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, braces and various types of bandages are covered. These can be very expensive, often as much as visits to a health care providers, so it is important to attempt to have your insurance company pay for such expenses directly in the first instance. Obviously, you may not always know whether you will need one of these medical devices within 30 days of your accident, but it is important to file your initial No-Fault Application within 30 days.
This benefit, as well as out-of-pocket expenses, is good for one year.
WHO IS NOT COVERED BY NO FAULT?
Motorcyclists, motor-scooter drivers (depending on size of engine), and someone arrested for Driving While Intoxicated would not be covered by No-Fault Insurance. You may have to pay for expenses out of your own pocket as health insurance policies often have excluded these motorists as well.
A. Craig Purcell, Esq. is a partner at the law firm of Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket and is a former President of the Suffolk County Bar Association and Vice President of the New York State Bar Association.