Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 24, 2020

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All New Yorkers who have been in an auto accident should understand what damages they may be entitled to. We spoke with Ira Slavit, a New York attorney in practice for over 20 years whose firm concentrates its practice in personal injury matters and medical malpractice litigation, who provided us with that information.

What damages are available to New Yorkers?

Slavit told us that the recovery that’s allowed can be divided into different categories such as medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, rehabilitation costs or life planning expenses. Although he says that damages can also be divided into past damages and future damages, he was quick to point out that once a case is over, you can’t go back and ask for more. He explained:

In other words, you can’t go back after 20 years and say, ‘Now I should get more money because I’ve continued to suffer after the verdict.’ The jury has to consider whether there’s going to be future medical expenses or future impairment of earning capacity and, of course, future pain and suffering – which is probably the largest component. All of that’s recoverable. There are no caps on the amount that can be recovered. There are some states that put a cap on pain and suffering, but New York does not.

New York Wrongful death damages

There are also different components to wrongful death damages, according to Slavit, and one is through no-fault coverage. He continued, “There is a $2,000 funeral benefit that no-fault will pay towards the cost of a funeral. In addition, there can be recovery for the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent, and again, there’s no cap on that. There can also be recovery for the pecuniary loss to the estate, meaning the financial loss that the next of kin are suffering or do suffer as a result of the accident.”

Recovery for emotional grief not permitted

Unfortunately, Slavit told us, New York does not permit recovery for the emotional grief of the surviving family in wrongful death cases. He said, “The majority of states in the country allow recovery for emotional grief, and although New York does not, it does permit recovery for loss of parental guidance and that can include even the loss of parental guidance sustained by an adult child of any age.”

Fear of your own impending death

There’s also a component of damages called “fear of your own impending death.” Slavit provided an example from his practice. “We had a case where someone was killed after being run over by a bus. We hired a pathologist to review the matter who was able to tell us that the pedestrian saw the bus coming and knew that he really didn’t have time to get out of the way. Even though it was a relatively short period of time, the fright that was involved (knowing that your own death is about to happen) was recoverable and increased the amount that we were able to settle the case for.”

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident in New York, contact an experienced New York car accident attorney to discuss your situation confidentially.