- June 22, 2023
- Tucker Law
- Car Accident Lawsuits
The short answer is “yes.” You can sue anyone whose negligent or intentional actions cause you measurable loss, whether or not they have insurance. However, in cases like these, it’s often more useful to ask, “Is it worth suing an uninsured driver?”
Car accident settlements generally involve large sums of money, and uninsured drivers often have very limited resources. Even if the uninsured driver’s negligent behavior on the road led to your accident and injuries, a court generally will not order them into bankruptcy so they can pay your damages.
When Can You Sue an Uninsured Driver in New York?
Should you sue an uninsured driver after an accident? The answer to this question often depends more on the circumstances of the at-fault party than on your own.
If the uninsured individual who caused your accident happens to have a reasonable income or resources that you could potentially sue for, a lawsuit may be a worthwhile pursuit. Even if the money they have won’t cover all your damages, you may be able to agree to a payment plan with them, potentially with input from a judge.
In many cases, however, uninsured drivers are uninsured because they can’t afford to pay for coverage. In instances like these, it’s usually best to explore other options for getting compensation. Courts can’t compel anyone to pay you money they don’t have. Additionally, judges are generally reluctant to award damages against someone if paying would prevent them from funding basic living costs.
There is good news, however; even if suing the uninsured driver who hit you isn’t a workable option, no-fault insurance coverage should cover at least some of your expenses.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?
Under no-fault insurance rules in New York, motorists must turn to their own insurance coverage first after getting in an accident. No-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection (PIP), is designed to compensate car accident victims for economic losses regardless of who was at fault or whether any party was negligent.
It’s important to note that, under New York’s system of no-fault rules, noneconomic losses are not recoverable. So, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium will not give rise to payments on a no-fault claim. If you were to file a car accident lawsuit against an at-fault party under normal circumstances, you could potentially be entitled to damages to cover noneconomic losses.
Unfortunately, these rules do not ensure that claimants are always protected. Insurance companies will always do what they can to cut costs; in this type of situation, this means attempting to settle your claim for an amount less than what you require to cover your medical expenses. The only way to ensure you get a fair payout is to consult with a specialist NYC car accident attorney.
Another issue is that no-fault insurance may not be sufficient to cover all your medical expenses. To recover more money in this scenario, you may need to look to your uninsured motorist coverage (UM).
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you if an uninsured driver causes a collision in which you sustain injuries. It can also protect hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver cannot be identified.
New York drivers must, by law, carry uninsured motorist coverage worth up to $25,000 for bodily injuries. There is no revision requiring UM coverage for damage to property. However, insurers offer add-ons that include extra injury coverage and coverage for property damage. If you’re unsure about the extent of your uninsured motorist coverage, you should research your policy document or contact your insurance provider.
Uninsured motorist coverage typically includes two components:
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) coverage: This covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other injury-related costs for you and your passengers. It may also cover you if you are injured as a pedestrian or while riding in another person’s vehicle, and this coverage may also extend to members of your family if you decide to name them on your policy.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage: This covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Some states require UMPD coverage, while others offer it as optional coverage that can be added to your auto insurance policy.
It’s essential to note that the specific coverage and limits of an uninsured motorist policy may vary depending on the state and the insurance company. In some states, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which provides protection when the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to cover your losses, may be included with UM coverage or offered as a separate policy option.
What Options Do You Have After an Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver?
If you’ve exhausted the benefits available from both no-fault and UM coverage, there are some other avenues you may be able to explore to seek further compensation.
If you successfully file and win a lawsuit, a court may order the defendant to make small weekly, monthly, or quarterly payments to you for damages.
Third Party Liability
The causes of car accidents are not always clear-cut. Sometimes, third parties (such as car manufacturers, road maintenance authorities, or other road users) may bear some responsibility for an uninsured motorist crash. It may be easier to file a lawsuit against these third parties than against the uninsured motorist who caused your collision.
Under New York’s system of comparative fault, liable parties contribute to overall damages in proportion to the degree of their contribution to the accident. So, if a third party was 20% at fault for your accident, a judge might order them to pay 20% of the overall damages arising from your claim.
Suppose your accident involved an at-fault driver with the financial means to cover your damages. In that case, they may agree to a settlement with you privately, potentially avoiding a road accident lawsuit entirely. If you’re exploring this option, you should consult with an attorney to ensure you’re likely to recover an amount covering all the costs related to your accident.
Contact an Experienced New York Accident Lawyer
After you’ve been in an accident, there are, in many cases, more ways than one to obtain the compensation that you’re owed. Though a collision with an uninsured motorist certainly is not ideal, it’s important to remember that there are other options for recovering the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
Contact the legal team at Tucker Lawyers PC by calling (516) 399-2364. We can provide a free consultation to learn more about your case and discuss how our attorneys can help you.
Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.
John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]