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Are there any special laws I need to know about in New York if I am involved in a car accident?

The biggest issue that we have in many circumstances when we’re retained to represent a family or people who are involved in an accident is insurance coverage. There are a lot of vehicles out there that only have $25,000 in insurance coverage. One thing that we do have to our benefit in New York State is what’s called “joint and several liability,” and what that means in plain English is that the responsible party, if they’re unable to pay the full amount of a jury verdict but there’s another responsible party that’s even one percent responsible but is capable of paying the full amount of a judgment, a jury verdict, then that party is responsible for paying the whole amount over above that $25,000 in insurance coverage.

So one good example of that is a case that I tried several years ago. I represented a woman who was a passenger on a motorcycle. That motorcycle had $25,000 in insurance coverage. There was another vehicle that was traveling in the opposite direction from that motorcycle, and arguably had very little responsibility for the accident, but if that jury found that that other vehicle was even one percent responsible for the accident, they had the responsibility to pay for the full amount of the judgment. The insurance company for the vehicle, not the motorcycle, took the position at trial that we have no responsibility. They offered no money. We tried the case to verdict, and the jury came back allotting a significant percentage of responsibility on the vehicle, not the motorcycle. Less than fifty percent, but still, all we needed was one percent. And we received an $8,000,000 verdict, and because of that joint and several liability statute that we have in New York, our client was able to recover millions of dollars as a result of that jury verdict that we received.

For legal assistance in a car accident case, consult with the New York car accident attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, at 212-779-0057.

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