RICHARD DENISE v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY

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RICHARD DENISE, M.D., P.C. a/a/o Irene Trapp, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant-Respondent.

Decided: July 22, 2009

Present: McKEON, P.J., HEITLER, J.

Order (Francis M. Alessandro, J.), dated May 7, 2007, reversed, without costs, motion denied and complaint reinstated.

Defendant New York City Transit Authority concedes that as a self-insurer, it is subject to the provisions of the no-fault law to the same extent as an insurer (see Insurance Law § 5103[a]; Vehicle and Traffic Law § 321 [2]; Public Authorities Law § 1215; Dermatossian v. New York City Tr. Auth., 67 N.Y.2d 219, 501 N.Y.S.2d 784, 492 N.E.2d 1200 [1986] ), and that actions to recover no-fault benefits are generally governed by a six-year statute of limitations (see CPLR 213[2]; Matter of Travelers Indem. Co. of Conn. v. Glenwood Med., P.C., 48 A.D.3d 319, 853 N.Y.S.2d 26 [2008] ). It argues, however, that while an injured claimant has six years to assert a no-fault claim against an insured owner, a claimant must assert an identical claim against a self-insurer within three years, since the liability of a self-insurer for the payment of no-fault benefits is derived strictly from statute. We disagree.

Defendant's responsibility to provide no-fault coverage is mandatory and the obligation is not decreased merely because defendant is self-insured (see Matter of Allstate Ins. Co. v. Shaw, 52 N.Y.2d 818, 820, 436 N.Y.S.2d 873, 418 N.E.2d 388 [1980] ). As in the case of an uninsured motorist claim (see Matter of ELRAC v. Suero, 38 A.D.3d 544, 831 N.Y.S.2d 475 [2007], lv. denied 9 N.Y.3d 811, 846 N.Y.S.2d 601, 877 N.E.2d 651 [2007] ), the right to obtain no-fault coverage, from an injured claimant's perspective, “is no less than the corresponding right under a policy issued by an insurer” (id. at 545, 831 N.Y.S.2d 475; see also Spring World Acupuncture, PC v. New York City Tr. Auth., 24 Misc.3d 39, --- N.Y.S.2d ---- [2009] ). The Suero court held that although a claim for uninsured motorist benefits against a self-insurer is statutorily mandated, such a claim remains contractual in nature and thus, is subject to a six-year statute of limitations. Since we find no basis in law or compelling reasons of policy to distinguish between the right to uninsured motorist benefits and the right to no-fault benefits, we hold that a claim for no-fault benefits against a self-insurer, such as defendant here, is governed by a six-year statute of limitations.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE COURT.

PER CURIAM.