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Is It Hard to Recover Personal Assets in a Personal Injury Claim in New York?


When you have been injured by someone else’s negligence in New York, you can file a personal injury claim against them. If the claim is successful, then you should receive damages that help you recover from your damages, like medical bills and lost wages. In some cases, the defendant doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for everything, though, and the plaintiff can become entitled to some of their personal assets to make up the difference.

Personal assets that could be recovered in an injury claim include:

  • Car
  • Home
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • 401(k) accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Family heirlooms
  • And more

How hard is it to recover personal assets in a personal injury claim filed in New York? It is fairly difficult due to insurance protections, but it is not impossible.

PIP Insurance in New York

Getting personal assets from a personal injury claim defendant in New York is a challenge because the defendant could be protected by layers of insurance. For example, all drivers in New York must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This policy pays for their damages in a car accident without questioning liability and without filing against the other driver. If you were in a minor or moderate car accident, then all of your damages could be covered by your PIP policy alone, so you would never have to think about the other driver’s personal assets.

Other Forms of Insurance Protections

If you were in a serious car accident, or you were hurt in another type of accident, then PIP insurance might not be enough, or it might not apply. When this happens, there might still be other forms of insurance standing between you and the liable party’s personal assets.

Going back to the car accident example, you first have to exhaust your PIP insurance before you can file against the other driver’s insurance. At that point, you will have to then exhaust that insurance policy, too, before you can consider other options to be repaid for your damages. This is the entire purpose of insurance coverage, after all: to protect the policyholder from being held personally liable for an accident they cause.

Insurance coverage can be pretty broad, too, so it might take a while to run out of insurance policies before having to turn to a defendant’s personal assets. For example, it is sometimes possible to file against a car accident defendant’s homeowner insurance policy if their auto insurance policy alone is not enough. It depends on the details of the crash and the insurance policies, so every case should be seen as unique.

Last Line to Cross: Court Orders

Lastly, you will never be offered personal assets in a settlement from the defendant and their insurance providers. If you want to be repaid for your damages out of the property, assets, and financial accounts the defendant owes, then you are probably going to have to take them to court, which is where it gets tricky. Courts don’t like leaving defendants destitute by forcing them to hand over most of their belongings, even if that defendant has wrecked the plaintiff’s own financial wellbeing. Typically, judges want to make sure that both parties will be financially “okay” after the case ends. To get them to prioritize your financial stability over the defendant’s, you will probably need to work with a highly experienced personal injury attorney.

At Faraci Lange, LLP, we can help with all aspects of a personal injury case, including calculating the damages owed to you, researching the personal assets the defendant owns, and determining if it would be reasonable to seek those assets as repayment. We help clients in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, so contact us now if you need our legal services.

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