New Yorkers who are hit by an underinsured driver have several options for claiming compensation, but the process can be complex.
If you have auto insurance, it’s easy to assume everyone else does too. After all, it’s required. New York state law mandates that anyone operating a motor vehicle on public roadways maintain an active auto insurance policy, conforming to the mandatory minimum coverage limits.
Unfortunately, people don’t always follow the rules. An alarming number of people drive their vehicles without car insurance, either because they’ve inadvertently allowed their policy to lapse or because they are intentionally flouting the law.
Moreover, a great many New Yorkers do carry insurance but have only bare-minimum coverage. If you’re in an accident with one of these people, their coverage limits might not be enough to cover your damages.
All of this raises an important question, and it’s one we hear all the time: “Can I get compensated if the other driver does not have insurance?”
In New York, the answer is: “It depends… but in many cases, yes.”
Below, we look at four potential sources of compensation if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver in New York.
1. Your Own Insurance Policy: New York No-Fault Insurance
New York is one of a handful of states that maintains a no-fault insurance rule. Under this rule, each driver in our state is required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) of at least $50,000.
This means that your own insurance policy will cover you for your personal injuries (such as medical bills and lost wages) — regardless of who was at fault — up to your PIP coverage limits.
Accordingly, this no-fault PIP coverage will be your primary source of compensation for your personal injuries, regardless of whether the at-fault driver had insurance.
Note, however, that no-fault insurance does not extend to property damage, nor will it pay beyond your own PIP coverage limits. So if an accident with an uninsured motorist causes significant vehicle damage — or if your personal injury damages exceed your PIP policy limits — you’ll need to turn to one of the following sources to compensate for those losses.
2. Your Own Insurance Policy: Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In addition to PIP, New York law also requires every driver to carry Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM / UIM). This special type of coverage kicks in if you’re hit by a driver who has too little insurance or none at all (or if the accident is a hit-and-run).
Essentially, UM / UIM insurance takes the place of an at-fault driver’s insurance policy. It will cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages — up to your UM / UIM policy limits.
How high are those limits? The minimum in New York is currently set at $25,000 per person for non-fatal bodily injuries ($50,000 per accident) and $50,000 per person for bodily injuries resulting in death ($100,000 per accident).
However, many New Yorkers purchase Supplementary Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (SUM Insurance), which increases the amount of money your insurer will pay out if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. You might have purchased SUM coverage when setting up your car insurance policy.
Note that your UM / UIM or SUM policy will only begin to pay after the at-fault driver’s insurance limits (and your PIP coverage limits) have been exhausted. These policies typically do not cover property damage.
3. The Other Driver (Individually)
If your total damages significantly exceed the coverage available to you under your PIP coverage and UM / UIM or SUM coverage, you may bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver as an individual.
Unfortunately, recovering money from a driver directly can be difficult. If the driver could not afford insurance in the first place, he or she might not have sufficient financial assets to pay for your damages.
There are some situations, however, in which it makes sense to pursue a legal action against the driver directly (for example, if the driver has substantial personal assets and your damages are extensive). An experienced New York personal injury lawyer can review the situation closely and help you make that determination.
4. Third Parties
Depending on the nature of your accident, you might also have a claim against third parties. These may include:
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Governmental entities
- Other drivers who contributed to the accident
- Commercial parties (for example, a trucking company in a commercial truck accident)
The experienced Manhattan & White Plains car accident attorneys at Lever Ecker, PLLC can help you identify any available avenues for getting compensated if the other driver does not have insurance.
Have You Been Injured by an Uninsured Driver? Call Lever Ecker, PLLC.
If you need to get compensated and the other driver does not have insurance, please call our office to learn more about your options. The right strategy for seeking compensation may depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
The Manhattan & White Plains auto accident lawyers at Lever Ecker, PLLC will fight to maximize your compensation at every turn.
We will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we win your case. Call 914-288-9191 (in White Plains) or 718-933-3632 (in Manhattan) or simply contact us online for a FREE case review.