If you find out after a car accident that the driver who hit you has no auto insurance or doesn’t have sufficient insurance, do you know what to do next? How will you collect an insurance settlement for your medical bills?
Insurance policies in New York include several kinds of coverage including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. The uninsured motorist endorsement in an automobile insurance policy provides that if the policy owner or a passenger suffers any injury because of the actions of a driver of another vehicle who does not have liability insurance, the policy owner’s insurance company will pay the insured individual’s damages. Many other drivers carry only the required minimum liability insurance. If you are seriously injured by an underinsured motorist, you may have an underinsured motorist claim if your injuries exceed the limits of your personal injury protection policy.
Most insurance companies will honor the UM/UIM clause, but some may attempt to offer compensation that is too little or deny your uninsured motorist claim. Later, they may raise your insurance premiums, though you have done nothing wrong, or even deny you coverage.
If this is the case with your insurance company, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. A New York City personal injury attorney can investigate your claim to document your injury and other losses and, if you have a valid personal injury case, work to compel your insurer to pay you what you are due.
To register a motor vehicle in New York State you must have New York State-issued automobile liability insurance coverage. According to the N.Y. Department of Motor Vehicles, the minimum amount of liability coverage you must obtain is
New York law also requires all auto insurance policies to include uninsured motorist (UM) coverage for bodily injury, subject to the same minimums. Uninsured motorist coverage only starts to pay for losses after the at-fault driver’s insurance, if they have any, is exhausted.
Uninsured motorist coverage is meant to provide benefits if you, the policy holder, or a passenger in your car or member of your household is injured in a wreck caused by someone who does not have car insurance or has too little insurance. Your UM coverage would also be invoked if you are hit an injured by a hit-and-run driver who is not identified or found.
It is fortunate that New York State has one of the nation’s lowest rates of uninsured motorists (5.3 percent, third-lowest behind Maine and Massachusetts), but that small percentage still represents thousands of uninsured drivers.
Drivers who carry only the minimum amount of liability insurance required by the state of New York may not have enough insurance to cover the full amount of injuries they cause in a serious accident. If you are injured or one of your passengers is injured by an at-fault driver who has insufficient insurance, the amount you may recover will vary depending on the amount of liability insurance the at-fault driver has and the limits of your underinsured driver coverage. Your underinsured motorists coverage provides benefits only after the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is exhausted.
The likelihood of being hit by someone who does not have liability insurance or has too little insurance is very real in New York. It’s important to carry sufficient uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage to protect yourself and members of your household from serious injuries caused by drivers who do not carry insurance or have too little insurance.
After you have been in a car accident, it is important that you contact your own insurance company as soon as possible, especially if you have been hit by an uninsured motorist. You also should report the accident to police. If you or anyone in your car has been injured, you should summon emergency medical assistance to obtain care immediately.
It is important for you to protect your rights after any car accident by obtaining and holding onto any evidence that supports a potential claim. For a UM/UIM claim, this includes:
This evidence can help you substantiate your claim for losses if your insurance company tries to deny a UM claim or to avoid paying you the full amount of compensation you deserve.
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, write down what happened, where and when it happened, and the names and contact information for any witnesses (including your passengers), as soon as you can. Write down anything you remember that might help identify the vehicle that hit you, such as color, make, model, year, direction it was traveling, etc. In the NYC Metro, an investigation may find a security camera that recorded your accident.
As you deal with your insurance company, it is important that you do not sign any statement presented to you. You could unwittingly sign away your rights to full compensation. You should be wary of a quick settlement offer, particularly if it is made before all of your medical expenses are known.
It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident involving an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver to make sure you are not being low-balled or otherwise denied proper benefits by your insurance company. Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., will fight for your rights and help you receive the compensation that you deserve. If you already have a settlement offer, we can review it and the circumstances of your accidents for you.
In every case we are able to pursue, our attorneys provide our clients with aggressive representation in order to recover the maximum amount of compensation available. To speak with an attorney about your accident, use our free case evaluation form.