When your leased car is involved in a collision in New York, the process of filing an insurance claim or pursuing damages can seem complicated. Not only does the crash involve the two drivers and their insurance providers, but also the leasing company. You should consider the following in the wake of the crash to protect your rights.
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The difference between leased and owned cars
Leasing a car is like renting one; you are essentially paying to use a vehicle owned by someone else. However, while rental car companies can provide some additional insurance coverage, you must provide your own insurance to use a leased car. That insurance coverage kicks in when you are in a collision, just as if you were the owner.
In New York, you must possess minimum insurance coverage on any vehicle, including a leased one. According to the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS), that coverage includes:
- No-fault benefits. No-fault coverage (also known as personal injury protection coverage) provides compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses—regardless of who was responsible for the collision.
- Liability protection. Liability protection pays for others’ expenses if you are deemed negligent in causing the crash.
- Uninsured motorist protection. Finally, uninsured motorist protection, as the name suggests, helps pay if you are injured by a driver who has no insurance coverage or flees the scene.
Connect with these parties following a collision with a leased car
As with any serious collision, you must get in touch with the proper authorities following a crash involving a leased car. Depending on the nature of the crash, you should contact:
The police assess the scene and create an official report, which can play a crucial role in determining who should pay for your damages. This paper trail also comes in handy should you pursue a lawsuit.
Your insurance company
Your insurance company must be notified as soon as possible. You do not want them to dispute the validity of your claim because you did not promptly notify them.
The leasing company
If you were involved in a crash while driving a rental car, you would notify the rental car company. Same with leasing a car. You must notify them of the event as soon as possible.
What the leasing company may require
Check with the leasing company or dealership to know what to do to get your leased vehicle back in shape. Some factors to consider:
- Repair stipulations
- Lease contract requirements
- Gap coverage
Because the vehicle is owned by the leasing company, they have a say in how a car is repaired and may provide other instructions. Additionally, some leasing companies require gap coverage, or you may have obtained it yourself.
If the car was totaled, the insurance company may pay out the value of the car to the leasing company. If that value is less than what you owe on the lease, gap coverage pays the difference. If you don’t have gap coverage, you may be responsible to pay the difference in what insurance pays and what is owed on the vehicle.
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Options for paying costs and receiving damages after a leased car collision
Once you verify your leasing company’s requirements, receiving compensation following a leased car crash is very similar to one involving an owned car. You can seek payment for your injuries through:
- No-fault benefits
- Uninsured motorist benefits
- A personal injury lawsuit
New York’s insurance requirements are designed to help you receive funds if you are injured in a collision. It is important to keep in mind that no-fault is required to pay regardless of who is at fault. In order to succeed on an uninsured motorist claim, you need to establish the other vehicle is at fault.
If the at-fault vehicle has insurance coverage, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
When to file a lawsuit
Your no-fault coverage will only provide basic compensation for your costs, such as medical bills or lost income. However, any expenses beyond that require a lawsuit. Moreover, no-fault insurance coverage does not compensate for pain and suffering. You can also file if you feel the insurance company is undervaluing your claim or denying you compensation.
According to ISC §5102(d), you can file a personal injury lawsuit for serious injuries such as:
- Significant disfigurement
- A significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Loss of fetus
- Loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Injuries that prevent you from performing usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the first 180 days following the collision.
If you have questions about your insurance claim or lawsuit, get in touch with our office to learn more.
Bring your leased car concerns to us
If you were in a car accident involving a leased car, contact the team at Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. today. We help drivers in New York understand their rights and responsibilities through free case reviews. We assist clients in both English and Spanish. We also work on a contingency-fee-basis.
Call us now with your questions.