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Can You Still Sue for a Car Accident if There is No Damage in NYC?

If you were in a minor car accident or a “near miss” situation and suffered injuries, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Many people think that a car accident is only “serious” if there is serious damage to the vehicle, but New York law may still consider your case to be quite severe and you could be entitled to substantial damage. For help filing a car accident claim, contact Sullivan and Galleshaw’s New York City car accident lawyers today for a free consultation.

Suing for a Car Crash Without Vehicle Damage in New York

If your car was not damaged in a car accident or suffered only minor damage, you may still be able to sue for your injuries. The core focus of any car accident lawsuit should be to have the damages for your injuries covered, and New York State insurance law reinforces this point. In many cases of serious injury, you can sue for a car crash even if there is no damage to your car.

New York is a “no-fault” auto insurance state. This means that the law expects you to file a claim with your own car insurance when you face vehicle damage and injuries in a car crash. If your injuries are “serious,” however, the law allows you to file a lawsuit against the other driver. In this context, “serious injury” includes wrongful death, loss of bodily function, amputation, and other types of substantial injury. Alternatively, “serious injury” also includes situations where you face at least $50,000 in damages for medical expenses and lost wages.

These kinds of injuries can occur even in cases where the car suffers no damage. For instance, serious whiplash can occur in a “near-miss” accident where you have to swerve or brake suddenly to avoid a negligent driver. The sudden force of swerving or stopping could also injure you in other ways that could potentially cause “serious injury.”

In New York State, damage to the vehicle is not necessary for a negligence suit. Many states have an “impact rule” that says that there must be some impact or physical contact to prove that the at-fault party caused your injuries. However, New York overturned its impact rule in a 1961 case called Battalla v. State.

Without an impact rule, you can also sue for emotional distress damages after a serious near-miss accident. Mental stress from fright and the anticipation of a serious crash can shake a person to their core, causing ongoing fear and post-traumatic stress effects. These damages can be compensated as part of an injury claim, even if there was no impact.

Damages for a Car Accident with No Damage to Either Car

Whenever you are involved in an accident, one of the important steps to getting compensation for your claim is to prove the damages you faced. You cannot typically sue for a car crash that causes no harm, and you must prove the financial and physical harms that you faced to get compensation. Typically, car accident claims involve damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Medical damages for a car accident include the cost of treatment and recovery. If you had to go to the hospital, get surgeries, see your doctor, go to physical therapy, or otherwise spend money on medical care because of the injury, you should be compensated for those expenses. This can include the cost of treating mental and emotional damages, such as the cost of seeking counseling or therapy.

If you missed work during your recovery, your lost wages should be covered by a lawsuit. This includes the wages you lost while you were recovering from injuries as well as any wages you will lose going forward or ongoing loss in earning capacity you face because of the injury.

“Pain and suffering” sounds very vague, but courts are also able to compensate you for these kinds of harms. If your injuries produced high levels of pain and discomfort, you can sue for this. The more the pain affected your life, the stronger you can tie these damages to concrete facts. For instance, if your pain prevents you from enjoying activities you used to love, that reduced enjoyment can help you prove pain and suffering damages.

Some damages, like pain and suffering, are unavailable in an insurance claim. It is important to talk to a car accident lawyer about whether you qualify for a lawsuit and how to best file your claim to maximize your damages.

Our New York City Car Accident Lawyers Offer Free Consultations

For help understanding your right to sue after a car accident, contact Sullivan and Galleshaw, LLP, today. Our New York City personal injury lawyers offer free consultations on car accident injury cases to help you understand what your case might be worth and how to file your claim to maximize your potential compensation. To set up a free consultation, call our attorneys today at (718) 843-0300.


Over our many years practicing personal injury law, our highly experienced legal team has earned a reputation for excellence. Our attorneys have appeared on major media outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC . Our firm’s legal accomplishments have been profiled by the New York Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, and the Associated Press. We have won multiple verdicts in excess of $1 million, making us proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious organization which admits fewer than 1% of all attorneys in the United States. We were named Super Lawyers in 2011, and enjoy a perfect 10/10 Superb rating on national attorney database Avvo.

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