What Happens If I Get Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

Roughly 6% of the drivers in New York are uninsured. If you get hit by one of them, you will need to look to your own insurance policy to recover compensation. When your injuries are minor, your no-fault insurance policy should cover the medical bills. But if your injuries are more severe, you may need to file an uninsured motorist claim or retain the services of a personal injury attorney to cover your losses.

Filing a no-fault claim

New York’s no-fault system was adopted to simplify bodily injury claims and reduce litigation over minor car accidents. Unless your injuries are serious enough to cross the state’s threshold, you are not allowed to file a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit, and your recourse is through your own PIP insurer. In other words, the other driver’s lack of insurance will not harm your bodily injury claim.

You can exceed the threshold to step outside the no-fault system if your accident resulted in any of the following:

  • Covered losses amounting to more than $50,000 (covered losses include medical bills; lost income of up to $2,000 per month for up to three years; and certain other expenses up to $25 per day for the first year)
  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant limitation of the use of a body part or function
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Bone fracture
  • Loss of a fetus

If your injury qualifies as “serious,” you would qualify to step outside the no-fault system. If the driver has no liability insurance, you may bring a lawsuit against him or her or pursue an uninsured motorist claim under your own policy. Speak with the New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London for a personalized review and analysis of your options.

Filing a lawsuit against an uninsured driver

While you may have the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, your likelihood of recovering compensation that way is slim. When a driver is uninsured, they typically do not have assets to pay a judgment. It may be possible to work out a payment plan, but receiving a few dollars a week or a month is unlikely to help you pay off your medical bills and provide for your other losses. Filing an uninsured motorist claim is usually a much more successful route.

Do I have enough uninsured motorist coverage?

To make an uninsured motorist claim, the coverage must have been included in your policy before the accident occurred. Further, you need to have high enough limits to cover your losses.

The state of New York requires each driver to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage with limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but higher limits are recommended; if you have $100,000 in medical bills and only $25,000 in UM coverage, you will bear the burden of the remaining $75,000.

To alleviate the financial strain of a serious accident, residents may purchase supplemental uninsured/underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage to protect themselves. It is always advisable to opt for higher SUM coverage even if it costs a little more. In doing so, you will also be required to increase your amount of liability coverage, which can also protect you in the long run.

Beginning in 2018, the state law requires new policies to include SUM coverage by default unless the policyholder explicitly opts out. Check your policy or speak with your insurance agent or lawyer to determine whether you have SUM coverage and, if so, whether the limits are sufficient. It is too late after the accident to select higher limits, so choose wisely in advance.

Speak with an experienced accident attorney

Deciding which route will afford you the fairest compensation is just the first step toward recovering damages for your accident. Next, you need to comply with notice and filing deadlines and insurance or court procedures. When you are recovering from an accident, these tasks may seem overwhelming. 

Make your job easier by speaking with the New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas & London. Our lawyers serve those who have been in accidents throughout New York City, including the Bronx, Manhattan, and Long Island. Call today to schedule a free consultation.