WHY IS MY AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY IMPORTANT IF I AM INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT, BUT I AM NOT THE AT-FAULT PARTY?
A driver who suffers injury due to the negligence of another driver usually files a claim with the at-fault party’s automobile insurance company. The injured driver, generally, would be more concerned with the other party’s insurance policy than his/her own.
In the days after the accident, however, the injured driver might discover his/her insurance policy might play a critical role in the recovery of damages. In what might come as a shock to some, the injured party may also require the services of an personal injury attorney not only to recover losses but for a defense against negligence claims.
New York Comparative Negligence Laws
The driver of a red car smashes into a green car due to being drunk behind the wheel. Driving under the influence would indicate significant negligence. What if the green car did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign, though? This is where New York state comparative negligence statute may affect the outcome of a personal injury case.
Under comparative negligence laws, the injured party’s award could be reduced in relation to his/her fault for an accident. Additionally, if any fault is proven on the part of the injured party, then passengers in all involved vehicles and or pedestrians could file a personal injury claim against the person who was not completely at fault. Having both the right personal injury attorney and insurance policy in place positively helps protect assets when claims of partial fault arise.
Also, an attorney can argue against claims of comparative negligence or may question the level of comparative negligence. Without the assistance of experienced personal injury lawyers, even someone who was only minimally at fault for an accident might find him/herself in problematic civil litigation.
Help from an Auto Insurance Policy
Auto liability insurance covers losses inflicted on others. A driver who is injured in an accident cannot file an auto liability claim against his/her own policy. He/she must file against the other driver. That said, coverage areas exist outside of liability. If certain coverages do exist on a policy, the injured party could file a claim with his/her auto insurance company and not the at-fault party.
In the state of New York, auto insurance policies must carry a minimum of $50,000 in no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage means, no matter who is at fault for the accident, the injured party can recover certain losses from his/her own insurer under a PIP claim. A variety of personal injury-related losses is covered under PIP.
PIP payouts are restricted to policy limits. When the amount of financial losses exceeds the minimum coverage on a policy, the injured party would need to explore other options such as exploring civil litigation and/or filing a claim against the at-fault party’s auto liability policy.
While not mandatory, purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage could prove beneficial if the at-fault party has no coverage. Like PIP, the injured party would file a claim with his/her own uninsured/underinsured coverage to recoup damages.
If the other party does not carry insurance and the injured party does not carry uninsured/underinsured coverage, then suing the at-fault driver to recover losses becomes the only recourse available. If the at-fault driver has assets, then a civil suit may prove to be worthwhile and, possibly, the only way to actually recover lost wages, medical bills, and compensation for pain and suffering after an accident.
Discussing Matters with an Attorney
Few people ever find themselves involved in a serious auto accident, which means they lack the necessary experience to understand the legal and insurance implications following the accident. personal injury lawyers deal with auto accidents and insurance claims on a consistent basis. Anyone involved in an accident — regardless of the level of fault — should consult with an attorney in order to understand how to proceed in the matter.