Car Accident Insurance
If you have ever been in a car accident, then you know what a scary and confusing time it can be. There are so many details to tend to, but it is likely that your auto insurance company may handle a lot of the costs. But do you know what your insurance covers when it comes to auto accidents?
At David Resnick & Associates, P.C., we understand that a person injured in a car accident in the state of New York has legal rights that are defined by a no-fault system, meaning your insurance company will make payments for your injury claims regardless of fault, up to a specified limit. Basic coverage under New York state law requires the following insurance:
- Bodily injury liability coverage of $25,000 per injured person, up to a total of $50,000 per accident.
- Property damage liability coverage with a minimum limit of $10,000.
This basic coverage is often referred to as 25/50/10 coverage.
In addition, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in your coverage helps pay for “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses for you and your passengers. State law requires a minimum PIP coverage of $50,000.
If you, your car or your passengers are hurt or damaged by an uninsured driver, New York state law requires a minimum uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for any bodily injury caused by the uninsured driver.
The amount of money insurance will pay for damages to your car almost never completely covers what you owe or what it would cost to replace the car. Some people use “gap” insurance – insurance that will pay the difference between what you would owe on a vehicle and what an insurance company says it is worth. Depending on the policy, gap insurance usually covers accidents and thefts.
What insurance covers, and for how much, depends heavily on who is at fault for the accident. To legally prove who was at fault for the car accident, you need to make a reasonable argument that another person or company was careless (negligent). If you make a good argument why the other person was at fault, the adjuster will realize that if the matter wound up in court, there is a good possibility that its insured person would be found legally responsible.
Even if you might have partly caused an accident yourself, you can still receive compensation from anyone else who partly caused the car accident through carelessness or recklessness. The amount of another person’s responsibility is determined by comparing his or her carelessness with your own. For example, if you were 25 percent at fault and the other person was 75 percent at fault, the other person (or his insurance company) must pay 75 percent of the fair compensation for your injuries. This rule is called “comparative negligence.”
Whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or the insurance company of another driver, there are some things you should do – and some you should avoid – when dealing with an auto insurer after a car accident in New York. Listed below are some key things to keep in mind as you seek to recover the insurance benefits you deserve after a car accident.
What You Should Do When Making A Car Accident Insurance Claim
- Do contact law enforcement immediately at the scene of an accident. Their report on the accident can be very valuable when you make an insurance claim, not having one might make it difficult.
- Do get the name of all other parties involved in the car accident, as well as their contact information and insurance information.
- Do get as much information as possible at the accident scene, including the names of witnesses and photos of the scene. The more pictures and other information you have, the easier it is to unravel what caused the accident and who should be held responsible.
- Do let your insurance company know about the accident right away. While law enforcement should always be your first call to the accident scene, your insurance company should be your second call.
- Do read and understand your insurance policy. It is essential that you know what your legal rights are, and understanding what your insurance policy does and does not cover is key to protecting yourself and getting the benefits you deserve.
- Do provide honest information to your insurer. Answer the questions you’ve been asked in a straightforward and honest way – this doesn’t mean that you need to provide information that you weren’t asked about.
- Do check to see what insurance policies might cover your injuries. You may have multiple insurance policies or protections that offer you coverage.
- Do get immediate medical attention for your injuries. You will need to have documented proof of your injuries, and it is best to get this as soon as possible after the crash. A delay in getting medical help could lead the insurance company to argue that the injuries didn’t result from the crash.
- Do have a full understanding of your diagnosis prior to settling an insurance claim. Sometimes, injuries may not heal as expected or medical problems may persist. You need to understand how severely you are hurt before you settle your case.
- Do document your injuries carefully. If the insurance company tries to deny you benefits or deny how severely you were injured, the proof will help.
- Do take action right away in getting help. There are very short time limits for making a no-fault insurance claim, and there are also time limits for taking legal action if your injuries were severe enough that you can make a claim against the other driver.
- Do contact a qualified New York City car accident lawyer for help before attempting negotiations with the insurance company and before signing any paperwork or giving any recorded statements to an insurance company – even your own.
What You Should Not Do When Making a Car Accident Insurance Claim
- Don’t ever admit to anyone – the police, the other drivers or an insurance company – that you were at fault for the accident. It is not your role to decide whether your behavior or the other driver’s behavior was the ultimate cause of the crash. There are likely many facts that you are not aware of.
- Don’t put anything in writing to the insurance companies unless you have consulted with a car accident lawyer first. By putting something in writing, you could jeopardize your claim or your right to benefits. The same is true of recorded statements – don’t make one without first consulting with an attorney.
- Don’t delay in contacting your insurer to make a claim. A delay could result in your claim for benefits being time-barred.
- Don’t assume the insurance company is acting in your best interests. Neither your insurance company nor the insurance company of any other driver is acting solely, or even primarily, in your best interests. Insurance companies want to make money and payout minimum payments in claims – not protect your right to full compensation.
- Don’t sign a settlement, waiver of liability or any other document giving up your rights without the advice of a qualified New York car accident lawyer. Once you settle your case, you will give up the right to collect additional compensation. This is true even if you didn’t fully understand what you were signing.
- Don’t accept a final payment unless you are sure you have been 100 percent compensated for all medical costs and losses. Because the full extent of your injuries is not always immediately clear, it is possible that settling too early or accepting a final settlement could result in your being uncompensated for some of your losses.
- Don’t deal with an insurance company on your own without legal help. A lawyer can help you secure the maximum in compensation you deserve.
For the best possible outcome, it is important to seek the advice of an NYC accident attorney experienced in auto insurance cases. We cover the New York City area – which includes Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
For immediate help with your car accident claim, contact the New York City personal injury attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C. Call us now at 212-279-2000 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and claim evaluation.