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At fault in a no-fault state? Cause of fatal crash still unknown

A week after the crash, investigators have a better understanding of a fatal multi-vehicle accident in Rensselaer. Seven cars were involved, most of them parked; in addition to the woman who died, three people suffered injuries. Their condition has not been disclosed. However, police have said that the woman was about eight months pregnant at the time of the crash. A few days after the accident, CBS 6 News in Albany reported that the baby had died as well.

Accident reconstruction specialists believe one car, driven by a 69-year-old male, rear-ended the car in which the deceased was a passenger (her husband was driving). That collision sent both cars careening into several parked cars. One of those cars was occupied.

It isn't yet clear why the two cars crashed. The 69-year-old could have had a medical event, or the driver of the second car may have stopped suddenly. While no criminal charges have been filed, civil lawsuits are still possible.

It is important to remember that, while New York is a "no-fault" state, the law does allow a person who suffers serious injuries in an accident to sue the driver who caused the accident. It is also important to remember that the state has its own definition of "serious injury."

The definition is quite broad. In general, a serious injury is one that results in permanent or long-term damage -- loss of a limb, for example, or a significantly limited use of a limb. Litigation is also possible if, in the six months immediately following the accident, a condition is not permanent but will keep the victim from normal daily activities for 90 days or longer.

In a no-fault state, there is nothing simple about defending a driver accused of causing an accident. This is a complicated area of the law that involves a thorough understanding of when economic and non-economic (pain and suffering) losses may be available. And, the case does not just involve the driver and the victim: Insurance companies play a major role as well.

These are just a few of the reasons someone who believes he or she could be liable for a motor vehicle accident should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

Sources:

The Oneida Daily Dispatch, "Rensselaer crash kills pregnant woman," Nov. 11, 2014

McKinney's Insurance Law Ch. 28, Art. 51, Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Insurance Reparations, via Westlaw

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