Getting into an accident can cause several financial difficulties, including the extensive medical costs that often accompany serious medical treatment. However, when the other driver does not have insurance, it can introduce a new complication to the equation.
Who pays your medical bills when the other driver does not have insurance? What should you do about those losses?
Any time you have questions about who may need to cover the cost of paying for your injuries when you have an accident with an uninsured driver, a car accident attorney can help provide you with essential answers to those questions.
Your PIP Insurance
New York has a no-fault policy when it comes to car accident law. Regardless of who caused the accident, each driver should use his PIP coverage to cover the cost of treatment for his injuries. Because you will use your PIP coverage to cover the cost of treatment for your injuries, it does not matter if the other driver has insurance or not: you can still use that coverage to get the care you need after a car accident.
In New York, if you carry minimum PIP insurance, it will cover up to $50,000 of medical expenses directly associated with injuries from a car accident. In addition to the immediate cost of medical care related to a serious accident, PIP insurance may also provide compensation for lost earnings related to the sustained injuries and any other “reasonable and necessary” expenses associated with your recovery. PIP can also cover the cost of emergency room treatment, surgeries or procedures, and hospitalization.
PIP coverage can prove essential when covering the cost of medical treatment after an accident. Using your PIP coverage can help alleviate a great deal of the strain associated with any accident, especially an accident with a driver who does not have insurance. You may have the right to use PIP coverage even when you suffer injuries outside your vehicle for example if you suffer injuries as a pedestrian or cyclist.
Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Under New York law, since drivers must carry PIP coverage to operate a vehicle in the state legally, drivers do not have the right to pursue compensation for medical damages unless their medical costs exceed the protection offered by their personal injury protection insurance.
In addition, drivers typically do not have the right to pursue compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, unless they suffer a permanent disability due to their injuries.
If you suffer injuries in a car accident with a driver that does not have insurance, and your injuries fit those criteria for filing an injury claim, you may have the right to pursue compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage covers the cost of damages associated with the accident with a driver that, as the name states, does not have insurance. An uninsured driver can cause financial devastation for a vehicle owner, particularly if the vehicle ends up totaled in the accident.
In addition to covering the cost of physical damages to your vehicle after an accident, your uninsured motorist coverage can help cover the cost of treatment for injuries that exceed the protection offered by your PIP coverage.
In many cases, your PIP coverage will offer the same basic compensation that you could expect if you filed a claim through the other driver’s insurance company, including coverage for medical costs that exceed the value of your PIP coverage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When filing a claim through your insurance company, it can be particularly critical to have a lawyer on your side. A lawyer can help ensure that you understand all the terms of your policy, including the compensation you have the right to recover and what you should expect as you deal with your insurance company.
You may assume that when you deal with your insurance company, they will deal fairly with you, offering you the full compensation you deserve for those damages. However, in many cases, you may find that the insurance company does not automatically offer you the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Your insurance company may offer the same challenges you expect when dealing with other driver’s insurance companies.
Having a lawyer on your side can make it easier to seek the compensation you deserve.
The Liable Driver
Sometimes, when you get into an accident with a driver who does not have insurance, you will have the right to pursue compensation from the liable driver directly. Just 4.1 percent of New York drivers do not carry auto insurance, and many choose not to carry insurance for financial reasons.
As a result, it can prove very difficult to get compensation from the driver that caused your accident, even when you receive a judgment in your favor. However, sometimes, you may end up involved in an accident with a driver who does not carry insurance but who may have the means to cover some of the expenses you have faced.
In that case, filing a claim against the driver can help make it easier for you to lay out liability for the accident and prove that the liable driver owes you compensation for your injuries. Remember that to file an injury claim against the liable driver, you will need to show that your costs exceeded the protection offered by your PIP coverage.
Other Liable Parties
Sometimes, after a car accident, you may identify more than one party that bears liability for the accident. While the driver might not have insurance, another liable party might have the means to offer you compensation for the medical costs you faced after an accident.
Under New York law, the party that serves a minor or a visibly intoxicated individual additional alcohol may bear liability for an accident caused by a drunk driver. New York’s dram shop laws may give you the right to pursue compensation from the bar, restaurant, or even individual who over-served someone showing visible signs of intoxication or someone under age 21.
Drunk drivers may not have insurance because of the heavily increased insurance costs often associated with driving under the influence of alcohol. If they have driven while intoxicated in the past, they may have noticed insurance rate increases of 74 percent or more, depending on their car insurance company and the nature of the conviction. As a result, habitual drunk drivers may be more likely to fail to carry auto insurance.
Drivers on the Clock
Many employers automatically provide insurance protection for their drivers while on the clock. Rideshare companies, for example, typically provide substantial insurance policies that cover their drivers while they have the app on waiting for a ride or while they have a passenger in the vehicle. Delivery services may also provide insurance protection for drivers who work for them while they have active responsibilities based on the terms of the app.
Not all employers, however, provide that same level of insurance for their drivers. For example, many restaurants that offer their own delivery services may require their drivers to use their own vehicles.
While the company may have policies that require those drivers to carry insurance to protect them in the event of an accident, companies may not always check to ensure that their drivers have the required insurance coverage. Furthermore, some companies may push their drivers to go out and take a run even if their insurance coverage expires.
In cases where the company did not take steps to ensure that the driver had adequate insurance or where the company’s negligence or policies contributed to the accident, you may have the right to pursue compensation directly from the company. Seeking compensation through the company can make it much easier for many people injured in a car accident to get reasonable compensation for the extensive injuries that may have gone along with the accident.
Did the vehicle behave as it should have in the accident, offering protection to the passengers and anyone in the other vehicle, or did some mechanical malfunction contributes substantially to the incident? Sometimes, after an accident, you may have the right to file a claim against the vehicle manufacturer. Many vehicles end up recalled every year, often due to mechanical problems.
If those problems caused or contributed to the accident, you may have the right to seek compensation from the vehicle manufacturer, which may make it easier to get the full compensation you deserve.
Your Health Insurance
Once you have used the protection offered by your PIP policy, your health insurance will often kick in to help cover the cost of medical bills associated with your accident. Your coverage may vary depending on your specific health insurance policy and its terms. However, health insurance policies will often offer substantial protection for accident-related injuries.
Your health insurance may also prove critical for paying for the long-term care costs frequently associated with serious injuries: the cost of in-home care, the cost of durable medical equipment that you may need for the rest of your life, or the cost of ongoing treatments, for example.
If you have questions about what your health insurance policy covers, get in touch with your insurance agent. Your insurance agent can provide a better look at what coverage you have, what benefits you should use, and what treatments you might not have coverage for under the terms of your insurance policy.
Having a Lawyer After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver Can Prove Critical
After an accident with an uninsured driver, having a lawyer on your side can prove critical.
A lawyer can help you determine what coverage your uninsured motorist policy offers.
Most drivers will carry uninsured motorist coverage on their vehicles, which will help them cover the cost of repairs and medical expenses after an accident. However, you may need a lawyer to help go over your policy and give you a better idea of exactly what coverage you have.
Your insurance agent may not always provide you with a full, honest assessment of what coverage you should expect, but a lawyer can review the terms of your policy and make sure you know how much compensation to expect.
A lawyer can help identify all parties that might share liability for the accident.
In many cases, a lawyer can help you find evidence that may show that another party shares liability for your accident. In that case, you have the right to pursue compensation from that party, which can help you cover the cost of medical treatment.
A lawyer can help you determine the best method for pursuing compensation.
Determining how to pursue compensation for your medical bills after a car accident can feel very complicated, especially if your accident involved an uninsured driver.
A lawyer can help you determine the best plan of action for your specific needs, whether that means going after the uninsured driver directly, seeking compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage, or seeking compensation from another party that bears liability for the accident.
A lawyer can fight for you after your accident.
After a serious car accident, you have enough on your plate as you deal with your recovery. An experienced car accident lawyer can help fight for you, alleviating some of the stress of dealing with the claim and supporting you throughout the claim process.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, having an experienced lawyer on your side can prove critical. Contact a car accident lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to learn about your rights.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.