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Understanding Uninsured Motorist Accidents

Posted on 05/08/24

Getting hit by an uninsured motorist is more than a nuisance. An uninsured motorist accident can lead to several complications for victims. Even though New York is a no-fault auto insurance state, drivers are still responsible for turning to their own insurance for property damage coverage.  Additionally, if drivers or passengers sustained a severe injury, the other party’s no-fault insurance may not be sufficient, further complicating an uninsured motorist crash.

New York’s No-Fault Insurance System

In New York, the no-fault insurance system aims to simplify compensation for auto accident victims by requiring each driver’s insurance to cover their own injuries and certain other expenses, regardless of who was at fault. Some key aspects include:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP). New York drivers are required to carry a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP), which covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other necessary expenses resulting from an accident.
  • Property damage liability. No-fault insurance does not cover vehicle repairs. Therefore, property damage claims require separate liability coverage.
  • Serious injury threshold. If the injuries are classified as serious under New York law, victims can file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver, even in the no-fault system.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in New York

New York mandates that drivers have uninsured motorist insurance as part of their auto policies, with a minimum requirement of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries. In addition to this mandatory coverage, drivers have the option of purchasing underinsured motorist coverage to address situations where an at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover the damages. For added protection beyond the basic limits, drivers can also opt for supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage.

Challenges After an Uninsured Motorist Accident

There are often several different challenges associated with uninsured motorist claims in New York. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Limited coverage. Although no-fault PIP provides immediate benefits, its coverage is limited. If injuries exceed the PIP limit and the at-fault driver is uninsured, victims may struggle to obtain fair compensation.
  • Uninsured motorist claim process. Filing a claim against your uninsured motorist policy can be complex. Insurers might dispute the severity of injuries or the estimated costs.
  • Litigation complexity. If an uninsured driver disputes liability or their ability to pay, pursuing compensation in court can be difficult.

How to Handle Uninsured Motorist Claims

if you have been harmed due to an uninsured motorist in New York, there are four steps you can take right now to help move your claim in the right direction:

  1. Document the accident. Take photos of the incident scene and any vehicle damage/debris, and gather contact details of witnesses. Police reports can also help prove the other driver’s uninsured status.
  2. Seek medical attention. Even if you feel okay after the collision, visit a medical professional to evaluate potential injuries. Comprehensive medical records will support your claim.
  3. Notify your insurer. Report the accident to your insurance company and provide all relevant documentation.
  4. Consult an attorney. An experienced New York car accident attorney can help negotiate with your insurer, document your claim, and ensure your rights are protected.

Additional Compensation Options

If your injury meets New York’s serious injury threshold, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver. This legal action can help you pursue compensation beyond personal injury protection (PIP) limits for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Additionally, sometimes a third party, such as a vehicle manufacturer, government entity, or another driver, may also share responsibility for the accident. Identifying all potentially liable parties can increase your chances of obtaining full compensation for your losses.