The latest from “Joe Knows” Radio with WAAL in Binghamton, NY:
We’re nearing the end of what’s become kind of a weird summer weather-wise with Canadian wildfires, Hawaii fires, a lot of rain that we’re unaccustomed to in Upstate NY. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the season, there’s one strong piece of advice that I shared on the radio this past week down in Binghamton…
If somebody intentionally runs into you with their car, hurts you or runs over you as a pedestrian, do you think you can bring a claim against their insurance company for that vehicle when they do that? The answer is no, because insurance policies in general, for both homeowners and autos disclaim intentional conduct, but there is something you can do about it. Your underinsured motorist coverage, or it’s sometimes called supplementary uninsured motorist coverage on your own auto policy covers you and your family members for that intentional conduct. So you could still make a claim for all the injuries based on the policy limits you bought, even though the other driver was intentionally trying to harm you. And that’s the way the law protects us. That’s another reason to make sure you have good SUM coverage. I’ve had a couple cases in the last six months just like this, so it’s not as unusual as one might think.
You could always sue the person that’s intetionally harmed you, but the odds of you getting anything from them when they’re probably going to be in jail is probably not likely. And the insurance company is off the hook. It’s just one of those things. That’s why we talk about the underinsured motorist coverage being such an important thing.
There are a lot of distracted drivers out there. The risk of motor vehicle accidents is a constant concern. While most drivers carry auto insurance, not all policies adequately protect against the potential financial and personal devastation that can result from a serious accident. This is where underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) steps in to provide a safety net. As a personal injury lawyer with a deep understanding of New York State’s legal landscape, I am here to shed light on the significance of underinsured motorist coverage from a legal perspective.
The Underinsured Dilemma
In the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, victims often find themselves in a precarious situation when the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Underinsured motorist coverage becomes vital in such scenarios. This coverage is designed to fill the gap between the responsible driver’s policy limit and the actual costs incurred by the injured party.
New York State’s Requirements
New York law requires drivers to carry liability insurance to cover bodily injury and property damage. However, underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory. Despite this, the law mandates that insurance companies offer UIM coverage to policyholders. While drivers have the option to decline this coverage in writing, it is strongly recommended to consider the potential benefits it offers.
Understanding Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is a component of your own auto insurance policy that comes into play when the at-fault driver’s liability coverage falls short. In New York, UIM coverage is generally capped at the same limit as your bodily injury liability coverage. For instance, if you carry $100,000/$300,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, you can opt for up to $100,000/$300,000 in UIM coverage.
Benefits of Underinsured Motorist Coverage
1. **Protection Against Inadequate Coverage**: The primary benefit of UIM coverage is its ability to safeguard you against the financial repercussions of an accident caused by an underinsured driver. It can help cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and even pain and suffering that exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
2. **Peace of Mind**: UIM coverage provides a sense of security knowing that you have an additional layer of protection in case of a serious accident. This can alleviate the stress of dealing with medical bills and other expenses during a challenging time.
3. **Better Chance for Prompt Compensation**: When dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance, delays and disputes can arise, leading to prolonged periods of uncertainty. UIM coverage allows you to seek compensation from your own insurance company, potentially expediting the claims process.
4. **Uninsured Motorist Coverage**: Some UIM policies also include coverage for accidents caused by uninsured drivers, which is particularly important in regions with a higher rate of uninsured motorists.
Navigating the Claims Process
In the unfortunate event that you’re involved in an accident with an underinsured driver, the process of securing UIM benefits can be intricate. It’s advisable to consult with a seasoned personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the legalities and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
1. **Notification and Documentation**: Promptly notify your insurance company about the accident and provide all necessary documentation, including medical records, police reports, and witness statements.
2. **Negotiations**: Just like any insurance claim, negotiations may be required to determine the extent of your injuries and the corresponding compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to maximize your benefits.
3. **Statute of Limitations**: In New York, there’s a limited timeframe within which you can file a UIM claim. A legal professional can help you adhere to these deadlines and prevent the forfeiture of your rights.
Underinsured motorist coverage is an often overlooked aspect of auto insurance that can make a world of difference in the aftermath of a devastating accident. While New York State doesn’t mandate UIM coverage, it’s a smart choice for any driver who wants to protect themselves from the potential financial hardships that can arise from accidents involving underinsured motorists. As a personal injury lawyer dedicated to helping accident victims navigate the complexities of insurance claims, I strongly advise underinsured motorist coverage as a crucial safety net on the road.
If you or a loved one are ever in a serious car or truck accident, don’t go it alone. Phone 1-800-608-3333. StanleyLawOffices.com, email@example.com