Many drivers in New York are either uninsured or underinsured. Although the Empire State has a mandatory auto insurance law, New York has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the country.
Additionally, the state has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country.
For example, the property damage minimum is only $10,000. Most new cars cost two or three times that amount.
Amount of auto insurance coverage is often, but certainly not always, one of the biggest factors in a vehicle collision claim.
The law protects most personal assets, such as houses, cars, and retirement accounts.
Therefore, unless another source of recovery is available, usually an insurance policy, a favorable judgment is only a piece of paper.
If you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, all is not lost.
A New York personal injury attorney may still be able to obtain fair compensation for your economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Additionally, as outlined below, there are some ways to proactively protect your family from the dangers of uninsured or underinsured motorists.
The auto insurance minimum requirement provides minimum protection for your family. Maximum protection is available, and usually costs a few dollars more a month.
Most companies offer UIM (uninsured or underinsured motorist) standalone policies or policy add-ons.
As the name implies, these policies pay compensation if the at-fault driver was uninsured or uninsured, up to the policy maximum.
Assume Brenda hits Ramon and totals Ramon’s new Mercedes. Brenda only has the aforementioned $10,000 property damage minimum.
That’s nowhere near enough to cover Ramon’s loss.
If Ramon has UIM insurance with his company, the policy could pay enough to allow Ramon to buy a new Mercedes.
UIM policies also pay if the insured driver is in a hit-and-run accident and a New York personal injury lawyer cannot locate the tortfeasor (at-fault driver).
Additional PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance could be available as well. New York is a no-fault insurance state.
So, everyone must buy some PIP insurance. This policy pays compensation following a fender-bender accident that does not cause personal injury.
Additional PIP insurance is a little like UIM insurance. But additional PIP usually only covers medical bills.
Generally, these additional insurance policies have very high coverage limits and very low premiums. So, they are well worth the investment.
Vicarious Liability in Car Crash Claims
As mentioned, the amount of insurance is not always an important factor in a car accident claim. In fact, sometimes it is not even a factor at all. That’s especially true if a vicarious liability (third-party liability) theory applies. Some examples include:
- Employer Liability: The respondeat superior rule usually applies in Uber driver, truck driver, taxi driver, and other commercial operator claims. Employers are financially responsible for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
- Owner Liability: If vehicle owners knowingly allow incompetent operators to drive their motor vehicles, and those incompetent drivers cause crashes, the owners are financially responsible for damages. Evidence of incompetence includes no drivers’ license, a safety-suspended license, and a poor driving record. Special rules apply in Enterprise Rent-a-Car and other commercial negligent entrustment claims.
- Dram Shop: Commercial alcohol providers, like restaurants and bars, are vicariously liable for car crash damages if they knowingly sell alcohol to intoxicated people who later cause wrecks. Evidence of intoxication at the point of sale includes prior alcohol sales and physical symptoms, like slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.
Noncommercial providers, like party hosts, might also be vicariously liable for alcohol-related collision damages, under a theory like negligent undertaking.
Special Issues in Hit-and-Run Claims
Law enforcement investigators solve fewer than 10 percent of these claims.
However, even if a police investigation comes up empty, maximum compensation could still be available.
The burden of proof in these claims is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Therefore, it’s usually enough to identify a vehicle’s owner.
It is more likely than not that the owner was also the driver.
Assume an eyewitness gets a general description of the at-fault vehicle and a partial plate number.
A New York personal injury attorney can use these nuggets of information, which are practically useless in criminal court, to track down the owner and hold the owner responsible for the wreck.
Before and after a wreck, you can protect your family from the dangers of uninsured motorists.
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees and only recover a fee when we win your case.