Every owner of a car in New York is required to carry insurance coverage.
That's if someone gets hurt, there is available money to compensate an injured victim. In addition, there is a minimum amount of insurance coverage that every owner of a car must have.
Many drivers carry much more than the minimum necessary. Even more drivers carry excess insurance coverage known as umbrella policies.
When someone is injured in a car accident and an attorney begins investigating the case, it is critical to determine how much insurance coverage is available from the other driver as well as the driver of the car that you are in.
There are very specific reasons why we need to identify how much insurance coverage is available for all the cars involved.
The insurance coverage I speak of relates to liability coverage. Liability insurance is available to pay money to someone for the suffering and pain they have endured because of someone else's carelessness. It also covers economic losses they have suffered as a result of an injured victim not being able to work currently and into the future.
So how exactly do we learn how much insurance coverage is actually available?
The answer is by asking. Well, that sounds simplistic enough, but how exactly and who exactly do we ask?
In every police report that occurs after a car accident, there will be information on there about which insurance company represents each driver. We then contact the insurance company and let them know that we represent the injured victim and we need to know how much insurance coverage was available on the day of the accident. In addition, we also need to identify whether there was any excess insurance over and above the car insurance policy. If there was, we need to know how much. If there was no excess umbrella policy then we need an affidavit from the owner, swearing that there is no additional insurance coverage available.
Over the following days and weeks we will get responses from the different insurance companies.
I mentioned earlier that it is also critical to obtain insurance coverage information from the driver of the car that you were in. If you were a passenger, we definitely need to obtain that information from the owner of the car that you were a passenger in. Even if you were the owner and driver of the car that was involved in the accident, we still need to determine what insurance coverage you had.
In addition, we also need to determine whether there is any supplemental insurance coverage and underinsurance coverage.
Underinsurance coverage will kick in if the other driver's insurance policy is insufficient to compensate you for the injuries you suffered.
Let me give you an example...
If you suffered a fractured femur because of another driver's carelessness and he only carried the minimum insurance required of $25,000, we must then look to see what your underinsurance coverage was in your own car.
Why is that?
It's because that $25,000 policy that comes from the careless driver is insufficient to properly compensate you for the fractured femur and the treatment you will need.
If there is a limited amount of insurance coverage available, that creates many challenges in order for you to obtain full compensation for the harms and losses you have suffered.
I've had many discussions with injured victims about having a limited insurance policy available despite the fact that their injuries are extremely severe and disabling.
I recently had a case involving a woman who was crossing the street and was hit by a careless driver.
This woman lost her life.
There was only $100,000 insurance available. That amount was quickly tendered by the insurance company because they realized that the value of this woman's injuries were considerably more than the value of their insurance policy. The problem for the family was that they wanted to obtain more compensation than what was available.
The unfortunate reality is that there was no other available insurance within which to obtain proper compensation.
That is why it is critical to learn at the beginning what the available insurance coverage is in order to make strategic decisions about what needs to be done next.
I should mention briefly that in New York the law requires that you have a “serious injury” in order to proceed forward with a valid lawsuit. The law also defines what exactly constitutes a “serious injury.” Typically, bruising and strains and sprains do not qualify as serious injuries.
Obvious significant injuries such as fractures, the need for surgery and scarring are considered serious injuries. There are also other types of injuries that may qualify, but would take a separate article in order to define them here.
To learn even more, I invite you to watch the video below...
What if you need to learn if you have a valid case and want to know how much insurance coverage is available?
If you believe that you have significant injuries as a result of someone else's carelessness and your car accident happened here in New York, if you have legal questions I encourage you to pick up the phone and call. I can answer questions just like yours. It's what I do every single day. You can reach me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected].
I look forward to speaking with you.