What Happens if an Uninsured Driver Hit Me? This question comes up a lot, because when it comes to vehicle insurance, New York is an extreme state.
The Empire State has one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists in the country. New York also has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the United States.
So, many New Yorkers are either completely uninsured or dangerously underinsured.
Many victims think if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) had little or no insurance, they cannot obtain compensation for their injuries.
But that’s usually not true. Granted, these cases are usually more complex. However, a skilled New York personal injury attorney can still obtain the financial compensation you need and deserve.
This compensation is available if the victim/plaintiff establishes negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, a legal term which means “more likely than not.”
Picture two same-sized stacks of paper side by side. If someone moves one sheet from the left to the right, the stack on the right is larger than the one on the left.
That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.
Negligence, or a lack of care, causes almost all the vehicle collisions in New York. Typically, one of these three areas are involved:
- Behavioral: Some tortfeasors cause crashes before they get behind the wheel. Substance impairment and excessive fatigue are two good examples.
- Operational: Speeding is the best example of operational negligence. Excessive velocity increases the risk of a car crash as well as the force in a crash. Other examples include failure to yield the right-of-way and ignoring a traffic control device.
- Environmental: Once again, speed is a good example. People have a duty to slow down when the road is wet or the sky is dark. But many drivers ignore this responsibility.
Insurance company defenses, such as comparative fault and last clear chance, sometimes offset the driver’s liability, at least in part.
Hit and Run Crashes
Many uninsured drivers flee accident scenes. They calculate that the repercussions of staying and facing the music outweigh the risk of getting caught.
From a criminal law standpoint, that calculation might be accurate. In some jurisdictions, fewer than 10 percent of hit-and-run drivers are caught and successfully prosecuted.
That’s mostly because the burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, is much higher in criminal court.
But civil court is different. As mentioned, the burden of proof is much lower. And, there are several ways for New York personal injury attorneys to obtain the evidence they need:
- Surveillance Video: Security, red light, and other cameras cover most intersections in New York. Video evidence is like an eyewitness who is never incorrect or biased.
- Additional Witness Statements: First responders usually only interview witnesses who voluntarily come forward at the scene of the crash. For various reasons, many people do not like to talk to police officers. But these individuals usually will talk to an attorney or an attorney’s representative.
- Stakeouts: There is nothing glamorous about sitting in one spot and waiting for a tortfeasor to arrive.
Because of the low burden of proof, attorneys might only need enough evidence to establish vehicle ownership.
That’s usually tantamount to driving the vehicle, at least in civil court.
Attorneys do not give up if the tortfeasor is uninsured or underinsured. Frequently, a third party is financially responsible for car crashes. Some examples include:
- Employer Liability: Employers, like shipping companies or ridesharing companies, are financially responsible for the negligent actions or inactions their employees commit during the scope of employment.
- Owner Liability: Vehicle owners are likewise responsible if they knowingly allow incompetent operators to use their vehicles, and these incompetent operators cause car crashes.
- Alcohol Provider Liability: Restaurants, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers are financially responsible for alcohol-related crashes if they sold alcohol to minors under 21 or an obviously intoxicated person.
Third party liability is often important in insured driver claims as well.
Frequently, individual tortfeasors do not have enough coverage to provide fair compensation in wrongful death and other catastrophic injury wrecks.
If an uninsured driver hit you or a loved one, an experienced personal injury in New York can still obtain financial compensation. So, reach out to Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for a free consultation.