Visitor Question

Serious Injuries from Head On Collision…

Submitted 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?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

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.

Learn more here: Falling Asleep While Driving Accidents

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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