Serious Injuries from Head On Collision...

by Anonymous
(New York)

My sister was in the back seat of a car that my stepfather was driving. My mom was in the front passenger seat. My stepfather left the road (fell asleep?) and hit a tree. Both air bags in the front deployed. My 86 year old mom fractured her c2 vertebrae and is recovering well in the hospital.

My stepfather died in emergency surgery after the accident (heart stopped - internal bleeding). My sister was not wearing a seat belt and fractured her right clavicle, one rib (I think), her right pelvis in multiple places, and severe fractures and shattering of her left femur. She's had 2 surgeries on her femur (accident was 8 days ago), the second lasted 9 hours. She was in intensive care after this surgery on a ventilator. The next day she was moved to an orthopedic floor and the ventilator was removed.

She'll need at least one more surgery for the femur as they were unable to stabilize shattered bone to a previous knee replacement. The shaft of her femur was split lengthwise and they put plates and screws in to stabilize it. Later they will take these out and put a rod in and hopefully be able to attach it to her knee. She is in the hospital (not sure how long her stay will be) and unable to walk for months.

It was my mother's car and she had excellent insurance in New York state: $175,000 in medical for each person and up to $250,000 in pain and suffering. I'm wondering what my sister is entitled to, if anything, beyond this? Also wondering about her getting disability from the federal or state government? Is there any other financial help available for her?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Serious Injuries from Head On Collision...":

Anonymous (New York):

The trauma of the accident and its aftermath must have been very difficult for all of you. What we are concerned about is your description of the insurance limits. Normally insurance limits do not include an amount for Pain and Suffering. An amount for Pain and Suffering is intangible.

The automobile insurance policies written in New York, as in other states, are normally written in this manner: There are amounts for Bodily Injury, Property Damage, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), Comprehensive (which includes vandalism, theft and similar damages), and Uninsured Motorist.

The first $175,000.00 dollars of the policy will not be paid. Instead the $250,000.00 dollars will be divided among your mother, your sister, and the estate of your late stepfather. There is another amount which you have not identified but if you look at this example, you may be able to better understand what we are saying.

Your mother had a policy which probably read like this: $175,000/250,000/??? - another amount – for Comprehensive which includes property damage...

The $175,00.00 dollars would be if one person was injured. Since there was more than one person injured, the policy moves to the $250,000.00 dollar amount. The division of the money is a bit complicated. The $250,000.00 dollars will be divided among your sister, your mother, and the estate of your late stepfather.

From the facts you present, fortunately you were not injured. Unless your stepfather had a will and left you as a beneficiary, you will not receive any of the insurance money. Your sister is eligible to apply to the New York State Social Security Disability Department. Depending upon her recovery and possible permanent disabilities, she may be able to receive some financial assistance.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

P.S. Please help us out by sharing this site...

Click here to post comments

Return to Asleep at the Wheel Questions.

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review:

TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION