Most people are aware that if they are involved in a car accident with another car, they can bring a lawsuit against the driver and owner of the other vehicle for monetary damages.
But what if the other vehicle has minimal insurance coverage that is inadequate to compensate you for your injuries?
Or worse, what if the other vehicle had no insurance at all?
Under these circumstances, you may be able to look to your own car insurance policy for coverage.
New York State Law requires that all car insurance policies include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
You may be involved in a car accident (whether you are a driver, passenger or pedestrian) with another car does not have insurance or a vehicle that has fled the accident scene. However, if you own an automobile or reside in a household with someone who owns an automobile -- you can still recover money to compensate you for your injuries from your own automobile insurance company.
By law, every car insurance policy issued in New York State must have a provision for uninsured motorist benefits of at least twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) per person and fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per accident for two or more people. You may increase the limits of your uninsured benefits to match the policy limits of your overall general liability coverage. For example, if you have automobile liability coverage of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident you may obtain uninsured motorist benefits to match that amount.
Additionally, if you are involved in a car accident (whether you are a driver, passenger or pedestrian) with a motor vehicle that does not have adequate insurance, you may still be able to recover money from your own automobile insurance company.
Whether or not you can bring a claim against your own policy and for how much depends on the limits of your underinsured motorist coverage. As with uninsured coverage, New York State requires that all car insurance policies must contain underinsured motorist coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for two or more people.
Underinsured motorist benefits allow you to recover money from your own automobile insurance coverage if the offending vehicle had inadequate insurance coverage. One requirement for this type of claim is that your underinsured motorist benefits exceed the amount of the offending vehicle's automobile coverage.
It is important to notify your insurance company in writing, immediately, of your intention to make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits. Any delay in reporting your accident, in writing, to your insurance company may severely hinder or defeat your ability to obtain benefits. Failure to notify your own insurance carrier within the time limits required by a policy is the mistake we see most often made by people who are involved in this type of situation and have not spoken to a qualified attorney.
Please call Avanzino & Moreno, P.C. if you have any questions. We are here to help.