In a lot of instances, we see a car accident where the at-fault driver may only have the minimum liability coverage required in New York, which is $25,000. For example, someone is injured significantly in an accident, and they break their arm and they have to have surgery that case would have a value that’s over the $25,000 coverage for the at-fault driver. We would then look to our client’s, the injured party’s policy, to see if they have what’s known as supplemental uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
We all should have that coverage. In the example that we’re talking about, if the injured party has SUM/UM insurance of $100,000, that will make up the difference for the lack of insurance or underinsurance of the at-fault driver. The injured party would then be able to recover the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and their own sum coverage, so in our example they would be able to recover an additional $75,000 from their own carrier.
What if the Other Party is Uninsured in an Auto Accident?
Even if the other party in an auto accident is not insured, you’ll want to notify your insurance company right away, just to make sure that you’re protected under your policy. You should also look at potentially filing a claim through what’s called MVAIC status, the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation in New York. That is a specific pool of funds that is set aside for an instance where a driver that has no insurance injures someone.
Is the Uninsured Motorist Coverage Mandatory in New York?
Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in New York, but everyone should have it.
Is it Automatically Added to Someone’s Insurance Policy?
No, uninsured motorist coverage is not automatically added to an insurance policy. Your broker should ask if you want it and explain the importance of it, but it doesn’t always happen. If you’re in the market for insurance, you should ask the question. It’s relatively cheap, and it’s very important to have for exactly the instances that we’re talking about, where an accident occurs and one of the parties is uninsured or underinsured.
What if Someone Sues the Uninsured or Underinsured Person?
If they are completely uninsured, in limited instances you would still want to file a lawsuit against them if they have assets. What we would do is an investigation of the person, including a background check to see if they have any assets. If someone is uninsured, but has assets, you can go after them personally to recover for your injuries and your claim. Practically speaking, if someone is driving in New York without insurance, there’s a low probability that they are going to have assets.
How Difficult is it to Recoup Compensation in Cases Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers?
Sometimes it can take a little bit more time to resolve these issues that involve uninsured motorists. However, just because you’re in an accident with someone who’s uninsured, doesn’t mean that you should not pursue it. You should still preserve any evidence and contact an attorney as soon as you can after the accident, because we deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis. It’s not uncommon for us to have to make a claim through MVAIC, or make sum claims if the at fault driver had some insurance, but it just isn’t enough.
What can an Attorney do to Assist in a Case Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers?
We can assist with every step of the way, because it does get a little bit confusing trying to deal with MVAIC or an underinsured motorist’s insurance company. We would not advise giving any statements to the at fault driver himself, or the at fault driver’s insurance company. We would want you to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible, so that we can walk you through the steps needed to get the maximum recovery for your injuries.