Injured as a Passenger in a Crash in New York? You Have Options

Auto accidents can be devastating for everyone involved, but passengers often face the brunt of the damage. As modern vehicles become more and more advanced, most manufacturers have focused their efforts on protecting drivers, while passenger safety systems are severely lacking. In addition, after an accident, most legal cases tend to focus on which driver acted negligently and has to pay the other. But passengers have the same legal rights as drivers and deserve proper representation in an auto accident claim.

If you or someone you love was injured as a passenger in a car accident, you are well within your rights to demand compensation from the driver who injured you. Whether your accident was caused by another driver or the driver of your vehicle, Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, can pursue full compensation for your injuries. Our New York passenger injury attorneys have more than 50 years of experience representing clients in serious car accidents. Do not wait. Call our office today at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.

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How Passenger Safety Is Lacking

When auto manufacturers design new models, a stringent quality assurance process is administered to determine how safe each vehicle is. These crash tests and simulations are designed to identify how an occupant can be injured in a collision or rollover and where the manufacturer needs to make improvements. Generally, these tests focus on the front-driver’s side of the vehicle. Whether the manufacturer is testing rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents, or roof crushes, drivers get a large amount of attention when it comes to safety.

Sadly, passenger safety is often left behind. Most drivers are aware that passenger-side airbags only deploy when a weight sensor is trigged in the vehicle, but the stark reality is that these airbags may not deploy at all, and this is not the only danger for passengers. Research has shown that multiple mid-size SUVs saw catastrophic failures in passenger safety during head-on collision tests by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), one of the two independent agencies that test vehicle safety in the United States. In addition, despite common belief that rear seats are safer in collisions, research by the IIHS has shown that the lack of front airbags and strong seatbelts for rear-seat passengers puts them at a higher risk of injury.

At the end of the day, passengers are just as likely to suffer catastrophic injuries in a collision. Whether you are dealing with the effects of a traumatic brain injury or were disabled due to a spinal cord injury, you are looking at tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages to deal with, as well as deep emotional trauma. As terrifying as these prospects may be, you do have options.

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When Can a Passenger File a Claim in New York?

New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, meaning vehicle occupants can typically reach out to their own insurance company after a collision to cover the costs of their treatment. For drivers, this seems like a simple process, but passengers are in a more complex situation. If passengers do not have auto insurance, they may assume that they do not have coverage. However, this is not true.

Whether or not you are related to the driver, you may be covered under the vehicle’s no-fault insurance, even if it is owned by a private organization. Passengers can pursue no-fault claims in accidents such as:

Unfortunately, the total costs of your injuries may exceed the policy’s limit, making it difficult for you to cover your medical expenses. In this situation, if you have suffered a “serious injury” according to New York Insurance Law § 5104(a)(b) and your accident was caused by a driver you are not related to, then you may be able to file a third-party claim against their liability policy.

A serious injury can include:

  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
  • Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment

It is important to know that both drivers can be found at fault for an accident, meaning you can pursue a claim from both of their policies.

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What If I’m Related to the Driver?

If you are related to the driver of your vehicle, then you are typically covered under their insurance policy. Per New York’s no-fault laws, you can automatically receive coverage under the driver’s policy, including their PIP policy, in order to cover the costs of your injuries, even if the driver is at fault for the accident. However, because you are considered a member of the driver’s household, you cannot pursue a third-party claim against them.

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Get the Compensation You Deserve

At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, our New York auto accident lawyers thoroughly research every case to determine all legal options for our clients. We understand that passengers are often left by the wayside when an accident occurs, which is why we provide the strong representation you need to get compensation. If you were injured as a passenger in a New York car accident, reach out to Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353. We provide every client a free consultation and work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning we do not get paid unless we win your case.

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Additional Information

Our Car Accident Case Results

$8.3 Million - New York State Record-Setting Verdict for Single Level Cervical Discectomy

Pursuant to the New York Jury Verdict Reporter, WRSMH attorney Frank J. Lombardo obtained the highest recorded verdict in the State of New York for a single level cervical discectomy.

Frank Lombardo

$6.2 Million - Intersection Accident

WRSMH attorney was able to obtain a jury verdict in the amount of $6.2 million on behalf of our client, a 60-year-old Brooklyn woman involved in a motor vehicle accident.


$5.5 Million - New York Motor Vehicle Accident

WRSMH attorney Bryce Moses obtained a verdict in the amount of $5,500,000 for our client who was exiting the Staten Island Expressway when her motor vehicle was struck by a Con Edison van.

Bryce Moses

$4.5 Million - Two Passengers Injured in Rear-end Accident

Jay Wechsler obtained an excellent result at the early stages of a case for two clients who were injured in a rear-end accident.

Jay Wechsler

$3.4 Million - Two Backseat Passengers Suffered Severe Injuries in Rear-End Accident

Konstantin Burshteyn successfully represented two backseat passengers who suffered injuries in a rear-end accident.

Konstantin Burshteyn

$3.3 Million - Client Struck By Van While On a Scooter

Attorney Jason Rubin obtained a large settlement for a man who was injured after being struck by a van while on a scooter.

Jason Rubin

$3 Million - NY Motor Vehicle Accident

Cliff Shapiro and another WRSMH attorney were able to obtain a settlement in the amount of $3,000,000 on behalf of a forty-five year old man from Queens who suffered injuries to his neck and lower back in a crash.

Clifford Shapiro

$2.9 Million - NY Access-A-Ride Van Accident

WRSMH settled the case of our client who was hit by an Access-A-Ride van after mediation and before trial for $2.9 million dollars.


$2.8 Million - Three Car Auto Accident in NY

WRSMH attorney obtained a $2.8 million settlement during trial for our client who was involved in a three car accident. The plaintiff was struck twice from behind in a rear-end collision involving two vehicles.


$2.766 Million - Passenger Injured in Sideswipe

Konstantin Burshteyn represented a client, a passenger in a vehicle, who sustained multiple injuries in a sideswipe accident.

Konstantin Burshteyn

$2.75 Million - Rear-end Van Accident in Queens

Douglas Milch obtained a large settlement for a group of individuals injured in a van accident in Queens on the Grand Central Parkway.

Douglas Milch

$2.75 Million - NY Intersection Car Accident

Phil Russotti and Kenneth Halperin obtained a settlement for our client in the amount of $2,750,000, in this case in which the plaintiff's motor vehicle was struck in the rear.

Philip Russotti, Kenneth Halperin

$2.5 Million - Queens County Resident's Vehicle Hit by Rental Truck

Douglas Milch obtained a large settlement for a Queens County resident who was injured in a collision with a rental truck.

Douglas Milch

$2.5 Million - New York Motor Vehicle Accident

Kenneth Halperin obtained a combined settlement in the amount of $2,500,000 for a 66 year old woman and her 32 year old daughter who were injured in a motor vehicle accident.

Kenneth Halperin

$2.3 Million - Sideswipe Accident Causes Serious Injury

Michael Fitzpatrick obtained a large settlement for an immigrant, who was a passenger in a vehicle that was sideswiped in a Brooklyn.

Michael Fitzpatrick

$2.25 Million - Permanent Injuries from Rear-end Accident In The Bronx

WRSMH attorney recently settled a case for a client who sustained permanent neck and back injuries after being rear-ended in the Bronx.


$2.25 Million - Rear-End Motor Vehicle Collision

Our client sustained multiple injuries as the result of a rear-end motor vehicle collision.

Stephen Wagner

$2.25 Million - Passenger Injured in Rear-End Accident

Konstantin Burshteyn successfully represented a client who sustained multiple injuries as a passenger in a rear-end accident.

Konstantin Burshteyn

$2 Million - New York Rear-End Collision

Kenneth Halperin and another WRSMH attorney were able to obtain a settlement in the amount of $2,000,000 on behalf of our client, a 45-year-old man from Queens County.

Kenneth Halperin

$2 Million - Intersection Accident in Brooklyn

WRSMH was able to obtain a recovery after trial in the amount of $2,000,000 on behalf of our client, a 60-year-old housekeeper from Kings County.


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