Accidents Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists
By: John Blythe
Automobile accidents are never an enjoyable experience. If the driver at fault is uninsured, a victim may have additional concerns regarding their options. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available to help properly compensate victims of accidents caused by uninsured motorists.
New York Insurance Law § 3420(f) requires all in-state car insurance policies to provide $25,000 in coverage for accidents caused through the fault of an underinsured or uninsured motorist. Uninsured motorists include drivers who do not carry insurance, drivers whose insurance carrier has denied coverage, drivers whose insurance limit is not enough to fully compensate a victim’s injuries, and hit-and-run drivers.
Additionally, many insurance companies offer supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorists insurance (SUM) for bodily injury sustained in either New York or Canada. SUM policies protect the insured, and members of his or her household, by covering bodily injuries caused by an at-fault, uninsured driver. To be considered a member of the insured’s household, New York courts have held that the victim should have resided with the insured, and held “some degree of permanence and intention to remain” there.
Unfortunately, certain pitfalls may lead to SUM coverage being denied. An accident victim must provide notice to his or her insurance carrier as soon as practicable. Also, a victim’s carrier must give prior approval to any settlement between the accident victim and the at-fault driver. A carrier must be able to ensure that other alternatives have been exhausted, such as whether the at-fault driver has other insurance sources available to pay for the accident. Fortunately, this second step can often be satisfied by merely obtaining a written confirmation of the at-fault driver’s policy limits.
Claims involving SUM coverage are resolved through arbitration, which can offer the advantages of being a faster and more efficient process than the court system. Fortunately, this means that accident victims can be compensated and continue on with their lives more quickly.
The attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, advocate for accident victims in New York. If you have been injured by an at-fault, uninsured motorist, you could be eligible to receive compensation beyond that obtained from the other driver. Call our offices at 866-LAWS-USA or 212-779-0057 to speak with an attorney about your options.