Uninsured Motorist Accidents in New York
Approximately one in every eight drivers in the U.S. was operating without insurance coverage in 2019, according to a recent study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC). The IRC estimates that approximately 12.6 percent of drivers nationwide are uninsured.
The rate of uninsured drivers in New York is among the lowest in the country at 4.1 percent. However, with more than 12 million licensed drivers in the state as of 2018, that still means more than 492,000 uninsured drivers are on New York roads.
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by an uninsured motorist, you may be suffering from painful injuries and wondering how you will cover your medical expenses. The experienced uninsured motorist accident attorneys of Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall LLC understand the challenges that victims of uninsured motorists face. We are ready to guide you through the process of seeking the full compensation available.
Call The Hurt Hotline today at (716) 995-4318 or contact us online to learn more in a free, confidential consultation.
What Is an Uninsured Motorist Accident?
An uninsured motorist accident is a motor vehicle collision involving one or more drivers who lack the mandatory auto liability insurance required by law. The State of New York requires that motorists carry at least certain minimum amounts of liability coverage, including $25,000 for bodily injury to one person, $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons, and $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.
In most collisions involving serious injuries, accident victims who sustained injuries through the carelessness of other motorists file claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance. The at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy typically may pay for some or all of the costs associated with the accident.
However, if the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance coverage, then you will likely need to turn to your own uninsured motorist coverage to cover your losses. New York law requires all insurance policies to provide uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury. But accident victims are disappointed to discover that their insurance companies tried to minimize or even deny valid injury claims. After an accident involving significant injuries, you may need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to be taken seriously and treated fairly by your insurer.
Consequences of Uninsured Motorist Accidents
Driving without the minimum state-required auto insurance coverage is considered a criminal offense in New York. If a person drives without auto insurance or allows someone else to drive their uninsured vehicle, the individual may be fined as much as $1,500 by a state traffic court.
If the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) discovers that a driver was involved in a traffic collision while operating an uninsured vehicle, the DMV may revoke the driver’s license and registration for more than a year. Drivers convicted of operating without insurance must also pay a $750 civil penalty to recover their licenses once they have been revoked.
Unfortunately, uninsured and underinsured motorists are not the only ones who suffer negative consequences as a result of their negligence.
Observations about the effects of uninsured motorist accidents (recent IRC report)
- Drivers who are uninsured or underinsured raise the average cost of auto insurance for drivers who comply with state insurance requirements.
- In 2016, drivers who carried auto insurance paid an average of $78 per insured vehicle to cover costs associated with accidents involving other drivers who were uninsured or inadequately insured.
- Throughout the United States, insured drivers paid more than $13 billion for uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage in a single year.
Insurance Requirements in NY
To register a vehicle and obtain license plates in the state of New York, vehicle owners must carry the following minimum amounts of auto insurance coverage:
- $50,000 in “no-fault” coverage, also known as personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This type of coverage pays for initial medical expenses, lost income, and other reasonable and necessary accident-related expenses for anyone injured in or by your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. This is the first place you turn to for coverage of medical care after a crash.
- Liability insurance coverage of at least $25,000 in bodily injury per person, $50,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 in property damage per accident. The liability insurance coverage pays for injuries and property damage that you cause if another person makes a claim against you for causing an accident.
Under New York state law, all auto insurance policies must also include uninsured motorist (UM) coverage for bodily injury. UM insurance policies are subject to the same bodily injury coverage minimums as the liability insurance policies. If you have UM coverage, your policy should pay if you are hit by an uninsured driver or by a hit-and-run driver who is not apprehended.
An underinsured motorist is a driver who has auto liability insurance but has insufficient coverage to pay for the injuries or property damage that he or she causes. This can occur even when New York drivers carry the minimum amounts of liability insurance required by the state. The losses in car accidents that involve catastrophic injuries may exceed the limits of basic liability insurance policies.
If you or one of your passengers is injured in an accident caused by an underinsured driver, the amount of compensation you can access may depend on the coverage limits of the at-fault driver’s policy and your own underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. Unfortunately, insured accident victims sometimes have trouble recovering UIM benefits from their insurance providers if they receive money from the responsible party.
Insurance companies try to protect their profits and pay the least amount possible to settle claims. They often encourage their representatives to look for reasons to minimize or deny claims, including valid claims. When this occurs, a knowledgeable uninsured motorist accident attorney can help you understand your legal options and stand up to the insurance company.
Accidents with Uninsured Drivers Can Cause Serious Injuries and Financial Hardship
A New York accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can leave drivers and passengers with a variety of serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)—These injuries are caused by violent blows or penetrating injuries to the head and may have fatal implications.
- Spinal cord injuries— An injury to the spinal cord is serious and can cause long-term disability, losses in muscle control and sensation, and partial or total paralysis.
- Back and neck injuries—Whiplash and herniated discs are common injuries in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. The pain and soreness of a whiplash injury may not be immediately apparent after a crash. The symptoms may be more pronounced a day or two after the accident.
- Broken bones—Car accidents may cause fractures to the legs, ribs, arms, ankles, or wrists. Some simple breaks may heal with a cast, but some complex bone fractures require surgery.
- Cuts and lacerations—These kinds of “surface” injuries can still be painful and may require emergency medical care.
- Limb loss—Arm, legs, hands, or feet may be severed during a crash or damaged badly enough to require surgical amputation.
- Soft tissue injuries—Strains and sprains involve damage to soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Tears to ligaments or tendons may require surgery to repair.
Accident victims who sustain injuries due to the negligence of uninsured motorists also suffer financial hardships.
Claims that may be filed against UM policy
- Medical expenses, including costs of ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgical treatments, prescription medications, and rehabilitation or therapy bills
- Expenses related to travel to and from medical appointments, in-home care, and home accessibility modifications
- Lost income from missed time at work
Protecting Yourself from Uninsured Motorists
If you were injured in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, you can protect your right to seek compensation by:
- Seeking medical attention as soon as possible to document your injuries and get the help you need to start to heal
- Following through on your doctor’s treatment recommendations to show you are taking your health seriously
- Recording everything you can remember about the accident and collecting evidence such as photographs of the scene and contact information from witnesses
- Alerting your own insurance company about the accident promptly
- Saving receipts, invoices, medical bills, and paystubs as proof of your accident-related expenses
- Declining to discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than your lawyer and avoiding social media comments about your injuries.
Contact an Uninsured Motorist Lawyer
Contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer for professional advice.
With more than 100 years of combined experience, the Buffalo car accident lawyers at Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall LLC are here to help no matter how big or small your case may be. Our law firm is focused on personal injury law. We know what it takes to stand up to big insurance companies and demand maximum compensation for our clients.
Our initial case reviews are always free, so call The Hurt Hotline at (716) 995-4318 or contact us online now to get started. You don’t owe us anything unless we obtain compensation for you.