Q. How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?
New York is a “no fault” auto insurance state. In the event of an accident, the cost of your injuries will be paid out of your own insurance policy. Your insurer will not take questions of responsibility or liability into account in paying your claims.
The minimum amount of “no-fault” coverage is $50,000.
If you reach the limit of your coverage, you are allowed to file a claim against the other driver’s liability policy.
In the next section, we’ll explain the liability coverage limits that apply to trucks.
Q. How Much Insurance Do Truck Drivers Carry?
In New York State, owners of private vehicles are legally required to carry at least:
- $25,000 of bodily injury liability insurance for one person injured in a crash
- $50,000 of liability insurance for one person killed
- $50,000 of liability insurance for the bodily injury of two or more people
- $100,000 of liability insurance for the deaths of two or more people
This liability insurance is meant to cover the medical expenses of other people injured in the crash.
Commercial vehicles, on the other hand, are held to a higher standard. And the bar isn’t set by New York’s state government, but by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Commercial Driver Insurance Requirements
At a minimum, most trucks must carry $750,000 worth of “public liability insurance,” which covers bodily injury suffered by the occupants of other vehicles and property damage.
But depending on the type of commodities a particular truck transports, this sum might be considerably higher. The most “dangerous” trucks, those that carry hazardous materials, carry policies with a maximum of $5 million.
There’s a lower end to the spectrum, too. If a truck carries non-hazardous freight, and weighs less than 10,001 pounds, it only needs to have a liability policy of $300,000.
To put that into perspective, the federal government caps the weight of 18 wheelers at a max of 80,000 pounds, fully loaded, and the average loaded semitruck weighs well over 10,000 pounds.
Q. Will I Be Contacted By A Truck Insurance Company?
Most likely. Because federal regulations are stricter on trucking companies and drivers, they generally employ aggressive insurers.
Adjusters and investigators, hired by the trucking company’s insurer, will arrive at the scene of an accident immediately. In many cases, their priority is to secure the truck’s “black box,” a machine that records vital information about the truck’s behavior directly before the crash. Our attorneys have been involved in cases where a truck’s insurer destroyed the data that its black box contained.
After investigating the crash, an insurance adjuster will contact any victims and offer them a settlement. The amount will vary based on specific facts, but most top out around $5,000. Obviously, this is an insufficient sum to cover the full range of damages sustained in a serious truck accident.
Q. Should I Speak To Them?
No. An insurance company’s only goal is to minimize the amount of money to which you are entitled. If they ask you to discuss any questions of fact, or any offers of money, tell them to contact your attorney.
Q. What Are My Options?
We urge you to contact an experienced truck accident attorney immediately, even before calling your own insurance company. Just like the truck’s insurer, your no-fault insurance company’s goal is to limit your compensation. That’s the only way they make money.
While New York’s “no-fault” laws prohibit many personal injury lawsuits, you might have a viable claim. If your injuries are deemed “serious” by the court, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against negligent truck drivers, trucking companies or a vehicle’s manufacturer.
Q. What Is A “Serious” Injury?
According to Article 51 of New York’s Insurance Law, a “serious” injury results in:
- Dismemberment (loss of limb)
- Significant disfigurement (permanent change to appearance)
- Fracture (broken bone)
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities
While some of these categories are clear cut, many are vague and open to interpretation. Before attempting to judge the severity of your own injuries based on the law’s definitions, reach out to a lawyer for knowledgeable guidance.
Q. How Much Does It Cost To Speak With A Lawyer?
At Banville Law, our truck accident team offers injury victims a free initial consultation. In other words, it won’t cost you anything to speak with an experienced attorney.