If there are no medical bills involved in your case, can you file a personal injury claim?

In general, the answer is no. For a personal injury case to be valid, you need to establish who was negligent and what damages you suffered as a result of their actions or omissions. To satisfy the latter requirement, you have to prove that the defendant’s behavior caused you to suffer losses, foremost of which is typically medical damages.

By way of example, imagine that you are driving home through the Bronx when a drunk driver runs a red light and strikes the rear of your car. The police arrive and charge him with DUI. Fortunately, you weren’t hurt, although your car was damaged badly enough to make it inoperable.

Although the driver’s insurer might offer you a small amount that’s over and above what you’re awarded for the damage to your vehicle, it likely won’t be more than a few hundred dollars. Unless you were hurt, you would only receive a nominal settlement in a personal injury claim.

Like most things in life, there is an exception to the rule that you can’t get much of a personal injury settlement without medical bills. It happens when a plaintiff is killed by the defendant’s negligent actions. Although it did not incur any medical bills, your estate could pursue a wrongful death claim against the driver.

In New York, the personal representative of your estate can file a wrongful death suit against the party or parties deemed responsible for the accident. Compensable losses include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Any reasonable health care expenses related to your injury
  • Any income or benefits lost during the time between your injury and death
  • The value of services and support you provided to your family
  • Any inheritance your children may have lost
  • Conscious pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident
  • 9% of the amount awarded, calculated from the date of death.

When it comes to awarding damages, the law grants priority to your surviving spouse and children. If you aren’t married and have no children, any award will go to your parents. If your parents are deceased, your brothers and sisters may file a claim, provided that they have been named as your personal or court-appointed representative.

If you lose a loved one in an incident caused by a negligent third party, your next step should be to contact a New York personal injury attorney who can help you file a wrongful death claim and recover the compensation you may be entitled to under the law. Contact Jayson Lutzky, P.C., a Bronx personal injury law firm, at 718-514-6619 if you are seeking legal guidance. We offer free in-person initial consultations. Saturday appointments are available.