You may be able to sue an uninsured driver if they caused you to suffer injuries in an accident. However, there may be other ways to recover the money you need to pay for your medical care, lost income, and other losses.
One way to learn about and weigh your options after a crash caused by an uninsured driver is to sit down and discuss the situation with a car accident attorney. Most New York City and Long Island personal injury law firms provide free case assessments to victims of crashes, including those involving uninsured drivers.
In This Article
- New York Uninsured Motorist Coverage
- Notifying the Insurance Company
- Can I Sue?
- There Are Some Reasons Why a Lawsuit Could Benefit You
- Contacting a New York Personal Injury Attorney
New York Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Under New York law, all automobile insurance policies must include both underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. In situations where an uninsured motorist injures an individual, this person can receive compensation for their injuries via their own insurance company.
This coverage applies to individuals who:
- Own an automobile and have insurance
- Reside in a home with a relative who owns an automobile and has this coverage
All uninsured motorist policies issued in the state of New York must have provisions that provide at least $25,000 for each person injured and $50,000 for each accident where two or more people suffered injuries. However, policyholders can, by paying higher premiums, increase these limits.
It is worth noting that this is a frequently overlooked form of insurance protection. People may buy high policy limit coverage to protect themselves from liability claims but may be unaware that they can buy additional uninsured and underinsured coverage. This can provide another layer of protection for situations when they are injured in an accident by an unidentified hit-and-run driver or a driver with too little or no liability coverage.
Still, the minimum coverage will pay enough for many types of injuries and provides a way for victims of hit-and-run drivers and uninsured motorists to recover compensation. An attorney can develop and file your claim as well as explain what to expect from this process.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-932-0400
Notifying the Insurance Company
After being injured by an uninsured driver, it is important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Insurance carriers have time limits for notification, and failing to report the accident within this limit will nullify the claim.
You do not need to offer your opinion on what happened or give the claims adjuster specific details during this initial call. Even though it may be your own insurance company, the insurer may not operate in good faith. Adjusters often try to minimize the money their company has to pay out, so anything you say could be used against your claim later.
Injured individuals should consider consulting with an attorney to review their insurance policy as soon as possible. The law firm will also take care of notifying the insurance provider and providing more details. This ensures the victim’s rights remain protected.
Can I Sue?
You can sue an uninsured driver after your collision in New York. However, it may not be in your best interest. There are several reasons why suing is not generally the best idea after a crash caused by an uninsured driver. These reasons include:
Sometimes, the Police Never Identify the Driver
First of all, in the case of a hit-and-run accident where the at-fault driver left the scene without being identified, there is no one to sue. Without knowing who caused the accident, there is no way to move forward with a liability claim or civil suit.
It is difficult to identify many hit-and-run drivers, although our lawyers have been successful at locating hit-and-run drivers. Our firm has had cases where a photograph or video of the at-fault vehicle, including a license plate, was obtained before the driver fled the scene.
We even had a case where the at-fault vehicle’s license plate became lodged in the bumper of our client’s vehicle, and the at-fault driver fled, leaving their license plate behind. In that case, the offending vehicle’s owner and insurance carrier were identified, and a lawsuit could be initiated.
However, we have also had cases when, even where the at-fault vehicle owner, driver, and insurance carrier were all identified, the at-fault vehicle was either uninsured or carried inadequate insurance. They could not compensate an injured person for the full extent of their damages, especially for past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
The Other Party May Not Have Money to Pay You
While the law permits the commencement of a lawsuit against the negligent, at-fault driver and the vehicle’s owner, it may be impractical and imprudent to do so. If they were driving without the required auto liability insurance coverage, they likely do not have the income or assets to pay thousands of dollars for medical care, lost income, and intangible harm.
Ultimately, if an injured party wins a case as the result of a trial, they are awarded a judgment. A judgment is basically a right to demand payment from someone. If that person does not pay voluntarily (as an insurance carrier would) to collect on the judgment, it must be enforced against the defendant’s assets.
If the person has no assets, the judgment can very well be a worthless piece of paper. Unfortunately, and sometimes tragically, a person who is driving with no insurance coverage at all or the absolute minimum level of coverage required by law, may have no significant assets to pursue enforcement against. This means you spent considerable time and effort to hold them financially accountable and received nothing in return.
There Are Some Reasons Why a Lawsuit Could Benefit You
You may consider suing an uninsured driver if:
- There is reason to believe the uninsured driver has significant assets or income.
- The driver was working at the time of the crash, making their employer vicariously liable.
Imagine the driver is a well-known business owner, was pulling an expensive boat, or there are other indications they have significant assets. It may be worth it to have your attorney look into the possibility of filing a lawsuit. If you can confirm they have enough cash in their accounts to pay for your injuries, a lawsuit might work.
If the at-fault driver was acting in the course of their employment at the time of the accident, you are seeking compensation from only one of several potentially liable parties. Under respondeat superior rules, their employer is vicariously liable. The employer’s liability insurance coverage is a potential source of recovery.
However, the “course of employment” scenario described above is one of many examples of why it is critically important to consider consulting with a car accident lawyer. Each and every case requires careful review and analysis to make sure every potential source of recovery has been considered.
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Contacting a New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one experienced an injury from an accident caused by an uninsured driver, contact one of the Long Island, New York, personal injury attorneys at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P.