Experiencing bodily injury after a car accident can have far-reaching consequences, influencing your ability to work, engage in regular activities, and handle emotional and financial challenges.
If you have been recently involved in a car accident, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explain how bodily injury claims work after an accident, including the types of compensation you can pursue and how to file your claim with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
What Is Bodily Injury Coverage?
Bodily injury coverage is a component of insurance policies that provide financial protection to the policyholder in the event of serious personal injuries to the other driver, passengers, and pedestrians due to an automobile accident.
Bodily injury coverage can be found in various types of insurance policies, such as:
- Liability insurance for automobile
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance (No-Fault insurance)
- Professional and business liability insurance
- Homeowners insurance
Who pays for your bodily injury in a car accident will depend on the type of insurance the drivers of the automobiles involved in the accident hold and whether you are responsible for the accident.
To illustrate this, here is how PIP (No-Fault) and liability insurance for bodily injury coverage work in New York, where our law firm, Spar & Bernstein, operates.
No-Fault Personal Injury Protection
All drivers in New York must have No-Fault PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage. This covers immediate economic damage, such as medical services, hospital expenses, and lost wages for each driver, regardless of who is responsible for the accident.
However, Personal Injury Protection coverage does not cover car repair or personal property damage.
Bodily Injury Coverage As Liability
In addition to Personal Injury Protection, if you are driving in New York, you must have liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage to others.
Liability insurance is used when you are found at fault for an accident that caused injuries to the other driver, passengers in each vehicle, and pedestrians.
It covers the costs of a lawsuit against you. It also covers additional medical expenses for the other driver, other passengers, and pedestrians that are not covered under PIP, legal fees, and other costs associated with the injuries suffered by the other party.
To bring an action for Pain and Suffering (bodily injury) for the insured’s negligence in an automobile accident, you must prove you suffered a serious injury.
As per Section 5102(d) of New York’s insurance law, serious injuries include conditions such as dismemberment, serious disfigurement or fracture, loss of a fetus, permanent or significant limitation of the use of a bodily organ, function, or system, substantial disability lasting at least 90 days.
In many cases involving insureds who purchased the minimum insurance required under law, the insured ends up under-insured. It becomes personally liable for any judgments above the minimum insurance coverage.
The minimum liability insurance coverage you can have in New York is:
- $25,000 for non-fatal bodily injury and $50,000 for fatal injury sustained by a single individual in a single accident
- $50,000 for non-fatal bodily injury and $100,000 for the injury resulted in death, if the injuries were sustained by two or more people in the same accident
As many serious injuries can result in liability for the insured who is at fault in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, here at Spar & Bernstein, although prior successful results do not guarantee a similar outcome, we have obtained considerable settlements in the millions of dollars for our seriously injured clients.
We therefore strongly recommend that you obtain insurance above the minimum required in New York state to protect you and your family.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in New York or New Jersey, schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys at Spar & Bernstein.
With five decades of experience in motor vehicle accidents, our tenacious and compassionate team will review the details of your case and explain the next steps for pursuing fair compensation.
What Is A Bodily Injury Claim In A Car Accident?
A bodily injury claim (personal injury claim) is a legal action that allows you to seek compensation for injuries you sustained in a car accident, such as fractured bones, back, neck, hip, knee, shoulder, and ankle injuries, traumatic burn injuries (TBI), scars and burn injuries, or nerve damage.
A bodily injury claim is typically filed against the driver responsible for the accident or the “at-fault” party.
Bodily and personal injury claims are often used interchangeably because they refer to the same legal concept: seeking compensation for injuries after an accident.
Bodily injury claims are typically filed based on the bodily injury coverage in your insurance policy.
How Is My Bodily Injury Claim Compensated?
Some of the damages you can seek in a bodily injury claim include:
- Pain and suffering which cannot be necessarily quantified by an exact dollar amount but are determined by a jury of peers based on many factors, including physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, loss of quality of life, physical impairment, shock, anger, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, sexual dysfunction, PTSD and other emotional pains.
There are two general ways to calculate pain and suffering:
a) As a multiple of one and a half to five times or more of your economic loss (i.e., current and future medical bills, current and future lost wages, current and future paid services needed because of your injury, property damage, etc.). So, your economic loss between past and future medical bills and past and future lost earnings due to the automobile accident is $500,000. In that case, your bodily injury claim can generally be worth between $750,000 and $2,500,000 or more.
b) Per diem calculates the days you are presumed to have Pain and Suffering. This calculation is generally based on a multiple of the victim’s lost wages. Suppose you are in pain and suffering for one full year and you earn $25,000/ year; then your case for bodily injury may be worth $25,000 or more.
- Current and future medical expenses: The compensation for medical expenses includes reimbursement for the cost of past, present, and future medical treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, therapy, and other expenses related to your injuries not covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This would be in addition to your Pain and Suffering.
- Current and future lost wages: The compensation for lost wages includes the income you would have earned from the date of the accident into the future if you cannot work due to your injuries that were not covered under Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This would also be in addition to your Pain and Suffering.
Talk to our knowledgeable team at Spar & Bernstein to understand the types of damage you can pursue in your situation.
How To File A Bodily Injury Claim After A Car Accident
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you should seek compensation by filing a bodily injury claim. Here’s how:
- Seek immediate medical attention: If a paramedic did not evaluate you at the accident scene and transported you to a hospital in an ambulance, you should visit a healthcare professional immediately. Seeking immediate medical attention will help establish a link between the accident and your injuries. It will document your condition, which is crucial for the success of your future bodily injury claim.
- Gather evidence: Collect evidence from the scene, including photographs, witness statements, and other relevant information to support your claim.
- Contact law enforcement: Obtain a copy of the police report, as it can serve as valuable evidence in determining fault for the accident.
- Notify your insurance provider: Report the accident to your insurance company, providing basic details about the accident.
- Collect documentation of your medical treatment and bills: Keep a detailed record of all treatments and medication, including steroid injections, prescriptions, and expenses related to your injuries. This documentation will help determine the worth of your case.
- Consult a personal injury attorney: Schedule a consultation with a Spar and Bernstein personal injury attorney specializing in bodily injury claims. Your personal injury attorney will help you navigate the claims process by observing legal deadlines and compiling comprehensive documentation of your injuries, medical treatments, and other damages. If your case goes to trial, your attorney will file a bodily injury claim and represent you before insurance companies and the court.
Contact Spar and Bernstein immediately if you were injured in a car accident.
Are You Seeking A Bodily Injury Settlement? Contact Spar & Bernstein
Protecting your interests after a car accident can be challenging — mainly if you are still focusing on your recovery.
Having a trusted legal partner like Spar & Bernstein by your side will allow you to take the time you need to recover while legal professionals pursue the compensation you deserve.
We offer a free initial consultation where our experienced attorneys will listen to the details of your accident and provide you with a clear understanding of your legal options.
We will gather evidence and handle negotiations with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and Suffering, and other damages related to your injuries.
If negotiations do not reach a fair settlement, our tenacious lawyers will take your case to court.
Well-versed in New York and New Jersey state laws, our personal injury team at Spar & Bernstein will fight for maximum compensation for your injuries.
FAQs About Bodily Injury Claims
Check out the section below for more questions and answers on the bodily injury (personal injury) claim process.
Can I file a bodily injury claim if I was partially at fault for the accident?
You may still have the right to seek compensation in many jurisdictions, even if you were partially at fault.
For example, you can pursue compensation in New York even if you contributed to the accident—however, the amount of compensation you are entitled to will depend on the percentage of your fault.
Should I accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company?
The general answer is no. Before accepting the insurance company’s first settlement offer, talk to the Spar and Bernstein legal team (www.lawsb.com).
Initial offers may be lower than what you deserve or what you might need for your long-term injuries. An experienced attorney will negotiate a fair amount on your behalf.
What should I do if the other driver’s insurance adjuster contacts me?
If the other driver’s insurance adjuster contacts you, you should speak to them only in the presence of your attorney. The insurance adjuster is not on your side. Remember, everything you say will be used against you. Tell the insurance adjuster that an attorney is representing you and to contact your attorney directly.
What is the deadline for filing a car accident report in the State of New York?
In New York, you have ten days from the accident to report it to the police. But in all cases, you should wait for the police to arrive at the accident scene before driving away.
What is the deadline for filing a PIP (Personal Injury Protection) claim in New York?
The deadline for filing a no-fault claim for PIP protection in New York is 30 days and must be done in writing. You should file your claim with the insurance company that covers the car in which you were an occupant (either as passenger or driver) or, if you were a pedestrian, with the vehicle that struck you.
What is the deadline for filing a bodily injury claim?
In New York, the deadline for bringing an action in court for bodily injury is three years from the date of the accident. If the accident is against the City of New York, you have 90 days to file a Notice of Claim and one year and ninety days to bring a lawsuit.
You may lose the right to seek compensation if you do not file a claim within the required timeframe.
Bradford H. Bernstein
This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.View Brad's Bio