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New York Woman’s Termination for Cause Unrelated to Car Accident Means Her No-Fault Insurer Owed Her No Lost Wages

Although New York is a “no fault” state for the purposes of automobile accident liability, this does not mean that a negligent driver can never be held accountable for the injuries of a person hurt in a crash. To the contrary, if someone sustains serious injuries in a New York car accident, he or she may be able to seek compensation from the negligent driver for damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Even if the no-fault threshold is not met, the injured person may have other options, including a claim against his or her own insurance company or, possibly, a claim against his or her employer’s disability insurance company.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate court case, the plaintiff was a woman who brought suit against the defendant insurance company in the Supreme Court of Greene County, New York, seeking no-fault lost wage benefits. The plaintiff had been involved in a 2013 car accident that left her unable to work for an unspecified amount of time. She took a leave of absence from her employment and received short-term disability benefits from her employer’s insurer. However, the plaintiff was later terminated from her employment due to her alleged failure to comply with her employer’s leave of absence guidelines.

The plaintiff then sought to recover no-fault lost wage benefits from the defendant insurance company (which covered her automobile), but the defendant denied her claim. The case was tried to a judge and resulted in a defense verdict. The plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Court

The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed the lower court’s entry of judgment in favor of the defendant. On appeal, the plaintiff insisted that the lower tribunal had erred in determining that she was no longer entitled to no-fault lost wage benefits because she had been terminated from her employment for reasons not related to her injuries. The appellate court disagreed with the plaintiff’s contention, however, noting that a person who made a claim under the No-Fault Law was to be compensated for “loss of earnings from work which the person would have performed had he or she not been injured.”

Although the plaintiff suffered disabling injuries in the accident, she was fired due to her failure to provide copies of her doctor’s notes excusing her from work. Although she had provided these notes for several months, there was unchallenged evidence that the plaintiff had failed to file for an extension of her leave of absence after the date covered by the last doctor’s note that she provided to her employer and that she had not been in contact with her employer’s personnel manager since then. The court noted that the case before it was not an action for wrongful termination, nor was the defendant the party who had terminated the plaintiff. In the court’s opinion, the defendant was entitled to rely upon the employer’s documentation stating that the plaintiff was terminated for reasons other than her injury.

Consult a Syracuse Injury Lawyer

To talk to an experienced Syracuse car accident attorney about a crash in which you or a loved one was injured, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP in Syracuse at 315-479-9000. You do not owe us a legal fee unless we collect money damages on your behalf.

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