“How insurance companies deny and delay”
New York State has used no-fault insurance law since the ’70s, but the system hasn’t been as beneficial as was hoped. The idea was that hospitals could receive payment for treatment before the courts decided who was officially at fault for an accident. Theoretically, insurance companies would be more willing to provide hassle-free compensation for their own policyholders. In actuality, insurance providers are still for-profit companies, and many use “deny and delay” strategies to avoid paying for expenses following an accident.
“Deny and delay is a process that insurance companies use to frustrate people so that they give up,” said Joe Stanley of Stanley Law Offices. “They put you through a massive paper chase, and when it comes to payment, they pay as little as possible as late as possible, and they will use every means available to do that.”
The paper chase may sound familiar to anyone who has tried to collect compensation from the government or dealt with a business’s complicated return policy. Retailers may ask for receipts, require waiting periods and claim that special conditions must be met. In the case of insurance companies, claimants may be told that paperwork wasn’t submitted in a timely manner (you have 30 days to file in New York), and the severity of the injuries may be called into question.
No-fault is separate from a bodily injury claim, even if you end up suing the same insurance company for compensation. “In car accidents in New York, you have to file for your medical benefits and your lost wage benefits with your own insurance company—that’s where the no-fault comes from, and that limits your right to sue the responsible party regardless of their fault,” Stanley said.
Many victims find themselves unable to sue the party at fault because their specific injuries are listed among the qualifying injuries defined as “serious.” Regardless of whether the other driver ran a red light, was intoxicated, did not have a driver’s license or was driving at 100 miles per hour—none of that matters without a qualifying injury because of no-fault insurance. “When this [no-fault] law was put in place,” Stanley said, “you gave up the right to sue for this guaranteed, so to speak, benefit … but it doesn’t work out that way.”
Understanding their rights is the first step toward justice for victims of car accidents. To avoid getting caught up in a long entanglement with their insurance companies, they should also contact an attorney as soon as possible