Car accidents can be extremely serious, leading to costly damages and medical bills. It is important to understand how car insurance policy limits work in order to protect yourself financially in the event of a car accident. One common question that many people have when it comes to auto insurance is: How often do auto accident settlements exceed the policy limits?
The answer to this question varies, as it depends on the specific circumstances of each individual accident. Generally speaking, auto accident settlements rarely exceed the available insurance policy limits. Auto insurance providers often prefer to settle cases, out of court, and as cheaply as possible. The insurance company may value their bottom line over your health and well-being.
It is important to keep in mind that the expenses from serious injuries may add up to a larger figure than the insurance limits in most auto insurance policies, so it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Long Island personal injury attorney.
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New York Requires Drivers to Carry Auto Insurance
According to the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS), all drivers in New York must carry the following types of auto insurance policies and meet the minimum coverage requirements:
Basic No-Fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
No-fault (or PIP insurance) covers basic economic losses of the driver and anyone else in the driver’s car, or a pedestrian struck, regardless of who caused the crash. At a minimum, it provides up to $50,000 in coverage per person for medical expenses, lost wages, and direct expenses related to the crash. It does not cover any property damage, including vehicle repair or replacement. It also does not cover non-tangible losses including pain and suffering.
If you were hurt in a car collision, the PIP insurance from your own insurance company will cover your bills before your health insurance kicks in.
Liability Insurance Coverage Minimums
Liability insurance provides financial compensation for personal injury, death, and property damage from the at-fault driver to the victim(s). If you were injured in a collision caused by another driver, their liability insurance should compensate you for your losses not covered by PIP, and other intangible losses including pain and suffering. New York has minimum insurance requirements, as follows:
- $25,000 for any injury or $50,000 for any injury resulting in death to one person in one collision
- $50,000 for injuries or $100,000 for injuries resulting in death by two or more people in any one collision
- $10,000 for property damage to the vehicle or other personal property in any one collision
Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured motorist insurance provides bodily injury protection coverage to you and your family if a driver injures you in a car accident and they have no auto insurance or if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver. This type of coverage only provides compensation for bodily injury, not property damage. The minimum coverage is the same 25/50/10 as the minimum coverage for liability. Additionally, this coverage often encompasses supplemental underinsured motorist coverage, which can provide additional insurance if your injuries exceed the available policy of the at-fault driver.
What to Do If Your Expenses Exceed the Policy Limits
If the costs associated with your auto accident exceed the policy limits of both your PIP insurance and the liability insurance policy limits, you may be able to seek additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced attorney can review your case and help determine whether this is an option for you. The likelihood of being able to recover beyond available coverage depends upon various factors, including liability and the identity of the responsible parties.
Your attorney may also be able to negotiate with the auto insurance company to pay a settlement that exceeds the policy limits, seek compensation from multiple insurance policies, or pursue additional compensation through other sources such as your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or an umbrella policy. This is why it is important to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who knows how to properly value and negotiate a claim after a serious car accident.
You can sue the other driver for economic losses beyond the minimum no-fault insurance coverage limits. Economic losses include:
- Medical care such as surgeries, rehabilitative treatments, medical equipment, prescription medication, and more
- Lost wages for your unpaid time out of work while you recover
- Future lost wages if you cannot return to your previous occupation
Pain and Suffering for a Serious Injury
You can sue the other driver for your pain and suffering caused by the crash if your injury meets New York’s injury level requirements, detailed in Insurance Law § 5102(d). These types of “serious injury” to an accident victim include:
- Significant disfigurement
- Fractured bones
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a bodily organ, member, function, or system
- A non-permanent medical injury or impairment which prevents the ability to perform regular daily activities for 90 to 180 days after the accident
If your losses exceed the value of the at fault driver’s insurance policy limits, you can seek the fair value of your damages by taking the case to trial and possibly getting a judgment against them. The other driver’s insurance company may offer to settle, but car accident settlements rarely exceed the policy limits. It is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to aggressively negotiate on your behalf and seek full and fair injury compensation for you.
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Time Limits in an Auto Accident Case in New York
It is important to remember that there are time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit in New York. Generally, under CVP § 214, accident victims have three years from the date of the car wreck to file car accident claims or a lawsuit to seek compensation for their losses. You have two years to file a claim for wrongful death per EPT § 5-4.1. Additionally, there are some situations, such as pursuing a case against a municipal entity, where you could have as little as 90 days to act. If you wait too long, you may be barred from recovering any compensation at all.
Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P., is Ready to Represent You After an Auto Accident
If you were injured in a car accident, the experienced auto accident attorneys at Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. are ready to provide aggressive representation to seek compensation for you. We have helped clients on Long Island pursue their rights and recover the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you.