If you get into a car accident without insurance in New York, you may face penalties, such as having to pay fines or facing driver’s license suspension. Vehicle owners in New York are required to carry no-fault insurance. If you were injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can use your insurance policy to recover certain damages.
Car accident lawyer in New York understand how to navigate uninsured motorist accident cases and recover damages for their clients. While the options for pursuing compensation are not always as straightforward as in other crash cases, compensation is often available for victims.
Most victims hurt by uninsured motorists file claims and recover compensation from their own insurer, either through a no-fault or uninsured motorist policy. However, other options exist.
You May Have Options for Seeking Compensation After an Uninsured Motorist Collision
There are several options that might be available to you if an uninsured motorist causes your collision. Which options are available, and which best fit your circumstances, will depend on the case details. Working with an attorney familiar with these collisions can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and recover the compensation you need.
It is important to note that New York requires drivers to carry no-fault auto insurance policies, so some crash victims might not qualify to pursue a fault-based claim if their injury does not meet the required threshold level.
Victims hurt by uninsured motorists could have options for pursuing compensation that include:
Filing a No-Fault Auto Insurance Claim
New York requires no-fault auto insurance coverage for all drivers. No-fault or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance pays for basic expenses and losses only.
- Medical care coverage
- A portion of your lost income
- Travel expenses for appointments
- Certain household services
When you suffer injuries in a crash, the first place you turn in New York is always your no-fault policy. However, things might be different in your case if your injury passes the serious injury threshold.
In New York, serious injuries include:
- Fractured bones
- Permanent loss of use of of a body function or system
- Significant limitation of a body function or system
- Full disability for at least 90 days of the first 180 days following the collision
When a serious injury occurs, a collision victim can pursue a claim regardless of the existence of no-fault coverage. To understand how this process works, discussing your case with an attorney may benefit you. Many firms provide free case consultations for injured parties.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Claim
According to the New York State Department of Financial Services, all drivers must carry a minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage. This is the policy that pays for the policyholder’s expenses and losses when they are seriously injured by an uninsured driver.
This policy works much like a liability policy, except you must work with your own insurer to recover fair compensation. This is not as easy as it sounds in many cases. Just because your own insurer provides the policy does not mean they will work with you and ensure you receive a fair payout.
Working with an attorney who will investigate what happened and develop a compelling case could make it less complicated to recover fair compensation. You can focus on healing while they manage your case.
Suing the At-Fault Driver in Civil Court
If insurance negotiations do not yield the case outcome you deserve, you could file a lawsuit to pursue compensation. You can work with an attorney who can collect evidence, prove negligence, and submit your case by the state-mandated filing deadlines in New York. When you sue the uninsured driver, you can recover compensation for the financial and intangible losses you suffered because of the crash.
Do I Need to Prove Fault to Recover Damages in My New York Crash Case?
If you pursue a no-fault claim based on your own coverage, there is no need to prove fault. These policies cover basic expenses up to the policy limits without requiring an investigation into the cause of the crash or showing another driver acted negligently.
If you want to recover non-economic damages or additional economic losses beyond those your policy covers, you generally will need to show fault. Collisions usually occur because of one driver’s carelessness or recklessness. To hold them accountable in a lawsuit, you will need to show how their actions caused the crash.
Generally, to prove another party’s negligence, you must show:
- Duty of care: The at-fault party had a duty of care to uphold. This means driving safely and obeying all traffic laws.
- Breach of duty of care: The at-fault party violated their duty of care, by, for example, speeding.
- Causation: The at-fault party’s negligence was the cause of your collision.
- Damages: You suffered damages such as medical bills and pain and suffering because of the crash.
An attorney can identify, gather, and analyze evidence. They develop strong cases to show fault, recovering the money you deserve based on the case circumstances.
What Damages Can I Recover in an Uninsured Motorist Case in New York?
The damages a victim suffers in a collision vary from case to case. No two cases have the exact same expenses and losses, even when injuries are similar. As a part of handling your case, your attorney should identify your recoverable damages and assign a fair settlement range to your case. This allows them to seek a fair agreement based on the potential case value.
Many crash victims experience some of the same types of damages. Lawyers know how to document these and seek money to compensate their clients appropriately.
The recoverable damages in a crash case could include:
- Medical bills, current and future
- Ongoing care and support costs
- Lost income from time away from work
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost life enjoyment
Non-economic damages, which often comprise a large portion of the settlement, are not available unless you have serious injuries and seek financial recovery through a fault-based claim or lawsuit. For this reason, you must hold on to documentation that proves your injuries and the treatment you received.
Wrongful Death Damages After an Uninsured Car Crash in New York
Most collision attorneys also work to help families get justice after a collision victim passes away. In New York, the decedent’s personal representative can file a case to recover damages on behalf of certain family members.
The recoverable damages in a wrongful death case generally include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Your loved one’s medical bills related to the cause of their death
- Lost financial support, including the income the decedent would have contributed to your family
- Loss of parental guidance and care
- Lost inheritance
- Conscious pain and suffering your loved one felt before they passed away
A lawyer can work with your family and determine who may bring a wrongful death case.
You Must File Your Uninsured Motorist Accident Lawsuit on Time
If you decide to file a lawsuit after your collision in New York, you must act quickly to meet the applicable filing deadlines and protect your right to sue. Like other states, there are statutes of limitations in place that set the deadline for starting a lawsuit based on crash injuries.
In general, you have:
- Three years to file a lawsuit for injuries under CPLR 214
- Two years to file a lawsuit for wrongful death under EPTL § 5-4.1
Exceptions exist and might give you even less time to act. For example, against a municipality, the law could give only weeks to decide your next move and begin developing a strong case.
Contact an attorney as soon as your injuries allow. This can help you avoid missing crucial case deadlines. Most car accident lawyers provide free case consultations.
What if I Did Not Have the Mandatory Insurance Coverage?
You must have valid proof of mandatory auto insurance coverage to register your vehicle in New York. If you do not carry the required insurance and are in a crash, you will likely face serious consequences. This is true regardless of fault in the collision.
If you fail to maintain insurance coverage, you could receive a citation, and the DMV could suspend your vehicle registration and driver’s license. In addition, you could be personally liable for any serious injuries that occurred in a collision you caused. This could mean facing a lawsuit and giving up your hard-earned assets to pay for the other party’s damages.
Finally, if you do not have a no-fault auto policy, you will have nowhere to turn to recover compensation for your own injuries. Since state law makes you turn to your own no-fault policy first, you will need to show you suffered serious injuries before you seek compensation from another driver who caused the crash.
Unless you can show that you have major injuries and meet the criteria for a liability claim, you will likely pay for your medical care and other losses out of pocket.
What to Do After You Get Into an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist?
After a crash with an uninsured driver in New York, always make safety your priority.
If your injuries allow:
- Call 911: Immediately after your accident, call 911. You will want the police to investigate the accident scene and create a police report. When you hire car accident attorney, they can use the police report to support your case and prove another driver’s fault.
- Move to a safe area, if possible: If your injuries allow, move to a safe spot. Don’t remain in the middle of the road if you can avoid it.
- Start gathering evidence: There are a few pieces of evidence you can gather at the crash scene that may benefit your case. Take photos and videos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and your injuries. You can also ask any witnesses or involved parties for their contact information. Your lawyer may want to reach out to them for statements about the accident.
- Avoid talking about the crash details: You don’t want to say anything that could put your case at risk. Don’t admit fault, and don’t accuse another party of causing the accident. You should speak with police officers and first responders, but only talk to other parties to gather their names and phone numbers.
- Pass insurance communications off to your lawyer: Let your attorney speak to the insurance companies involved in your case. You do not want to say anything that can be taken out of context. To avoid having your words misunderstood, let your lawyer take care of this part of your case.
You Can Leave Your Case to a New York Car Accident Attorney
If you suffered serious injuries in a collision in New York caused by an uninsured driver, you still have options for recovering compensation. You may file a no-fault claim, use your uninsured motorist coverage, or sue the at-fault driver, depending on the circumstances. personal injury lawyer in Long Island handle these cases regularly and can navigate the claims process for you while you focus on healing from your injuries.
Most law firms provide free consultations so you can get answers to your questions and explain your case.