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Auto insurance and medical bills don’t always match up

In New York, you need auto insurance to drive legally. This might lead you to think that the guilty driver’s insurance would cover your bills if you got into an accident, but the numbers don’t always support that assumption.

New York law says that drivers need insurance worth $25,000 for body injury. It also demands that you carry $50,000 coverage for accidents that injure two or more people. But these amounts fall well below the average cost of hospitalization. According to the New York Department of Health, Albany County drivers sent to the hospital faced an average medical bill of $74,092.

The statistics are not always on your side

The Department of Health posted some other troubling statistics alongside the size of the average hospital bill:

  • People involved alcohol and speed related crashes were most likely to suffer serious injury
  • Bicyclists and motorcyclists involved in accidents faced higher-than-average medical bills
  • Drivers who didn’t wear their seatbelts were five times more likely to go to the hospital
  • Auto crashes are the third leading cause of injury related deaths

The statistics are supposed to remind you to drive safely. The Department of Health prefaces the statistics by claiming that crashes “are not random, uncontrollable acts of fate.” Instead, they happen “in predictable patterns, with recognizable risk factors.”

What options do you have?

As a New York driver, you can take two messages from the idea that accidents aren’t random:

  • You can drive defensively to reduce your chances of getting into an accident
  • In the case of serious injury, someone is always to blame

New York uses a “no fault” insurance policy. In most cases, this means you file your claim with your insurance and there’s no consideration of your fault or that of the other driver. However, the state considers fault in cases of serious injury, such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Permanent damage to an organ or limb
  • Major damage to a body function or system
  • Substantially full disability for 90 days

In these cases, the law allows you to sue, and the court will decide how much each driver is to blame.

Driving defensively is a win-win strategy

The costs of getting into a car crash near Albany can be brutal. You can reduce your chances of getting into a crash by driving defensively, and if you do get into an accident, you may be more likely to prove the other driver was at fault. And that can help you get back on the road to recovery.

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