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Uninsured and Underinsured Claims in NY

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 Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. as soon as possible. A New York car accident 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.

Contact us today at (212) 490-5700 to get started on your case.

Doesn’t New York Require Auto Insurance?

To register a motor vehicle in New York, you must have 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:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident
  • $10,000 for property damage for a single accident.

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 policyholder, or a passenger in your car 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%, the third-lowest behind Maine and Massachusetts), but that small percentage still represents thousands of uninsured drivers.

Accidents Involving Underinsured Motorists in New York

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.

What to Do After an NYC Car Accident Caused by an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

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:

  • Police report. If law enforcement personnel respond to your accident, ask how to obtain a copy of the report and get one as soon as you can.
  • Medical records. Seeing a doctor documents your injuries, in addition to ensuring you obtain necessary care. If you do not get emergency care immediately after an accident, see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Records and Receipts. Save any receipts for medical expenses connected to your accident, including examinations and treatment, prescription and over-the-counter medication, and rehabilitative therapy.
  • Take photos of the crash scene. This includes damage to vehicles and debris. Get photos of any visible injuries you have. (Note that UM coverage does not include compensation for property damage, but evidence of the car accident itself will be necessary to pursue a claim.)

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, the 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.

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New York Underinsured Motorist Claims

After being involved in an accident with another vehicle, it is natural to try to receive compensation from the driver who hit you. In a timely manner, most people will file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company and try to receive benefits to help them make repairs to their car or help assist in their medical payments. But what happens if you file for a claim and the driver is underinsured?

If you were hit by an underinsured driver, you may not receive enough compensation to cover the costs of the accident. The state of New York requires you to carry valid insurance coverage, but all you need is minimum coverage. Some companies that cover just the bare minimum will cover small amounts of vehicle repair costs, but will not cover personal injury damages. There is a possibility that your own insurance company will cover costs if you were hit by an underinsured motorist, but it may raise your policy, which is of no relief to you. If you have been hit, you need to contact a personal injury attorney.

Car Accident Insurance Claims in NY

Working with insurance companies on your claim can be intimidating. Insurance agents and adjusters are experienced and know that the more quickly they act, the more likely they are to enable their company to pay out the least possible amount to settle your claim. This is their objective. They have their company’s best interest at heart. At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we have your best interest at heart. Do not sign anything or agree to a settlement that you do not feel is fair. Instead, contact our office and speak to a New York City personal injury lawyer about the potential of your case.

Our firm is comprised of car accident lawyers who have had success at the largest and most profitable law firms in New York. With over 75 years of combined experience, we formed our smaller firm with one goal in mind, that goal being to provide you with the personal, caring service you deserve. This personal service is not common in large firms, and we are committed to being responsive to our clients throughout the process. Not only do we strive for excellence in representing you legally, we are also committed to helping our clients through the stresses associated with experiencing a traumatic accident. While most car accident insurance claims are settled, if necessary we are prepared to pursue your case at trial. We are determined to get you the highest possible cash award.

Contact a NYC Car Accident Lawyer About Your Claim

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 fairest compensation available. To speak with an attorney about your accident, use our free case evaluation form, or call us at (212) 490-5700.

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07/05/2015

After meeting a half dozen lawyers at different firms, I decided to go to Hecht, Kleeger and Damashek. As soon as I met Jon Damashek, I knew I had to look no further. Mr. Damashek made me feel at ease…

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