What if the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Car Insurance?
If another motorist is negligent on the roadway, leading to a car accident that seriously injures you, it is natural to expect that motorist to pay for the harm caused. This is a basic principle of accountability, but, what if the motorist does not have the financial resources to pay for the harm caused?
That is where car insurance comes in. In exchange for premium payments, the insurance company agrees to “indemnify” its insured and pay for the harm caused. This is a contractual relationship, and every motorist on New York roads must enter into such a contractual relationship with an automobile insurer because it is unlawful to operate an uninsured motor vehicle in New York.
Unfortunately, many people still operate uninsured motor vehicles on New York roadways. While this is unlawful, it still happens. Often an insured driver will forget or refuse to pay the insurance premium, which is a breach of contract because the insurer is only required to provide coverage in exchange for insurance premium payments. When this happens, the insurer is legally entitled to cancel coverage.
What happens when you are injured through someone else’s operation of an uninsured motor vehicle? The car accident attorneys at William Mattar law offices are happy to take a look at your unique situation to see what options are available to you, but there are some basic things to consider.
Was the Car Insurance Policy Effectively Canceled?
After a car accident, the insurance company may take a position that the policy of insurance was canceled and it, therefore, has no obligation to indemnify it is insured. If this is the case, you would be left with a claim against an at-fault motorist with little to no assets. You can prosecute a case against the at-fault motorist and obtain a judgment saying you are entitled to a sum of money, but if you cannot “collect” on that judgment because the at-fault motorist does not have the assets to “satisfy” it, the document will not do you much good.
For this reason, when an insurance company claims that an insurance policy was canceled due to non-payment of premiums, it is important to assess whether the cancellation was valid. New York law contains many technical requirements for the cancellation of automobile insurance, with various mailing and typesetting requirements. If the notice of cancellation does not satisfy these technical requirements, the cancellation was invalid and the insurance is still in effect. An attorney can help you identify whether the notice of cancellation satisfied all of the technical requirements.
What if the Insurance Policy was Effectively Canceled?
If the insurance policy was in fact validly canceled, the motor vehicle was uninsured, and you will then have to look for other valid insurance. For example, if the motor vehicle was uninsured but its driver had a different policy of insurance that was in effect at the time of the collision, you may be able to make a claim with that other insurer. If the driver was acting in the scope of his or her employment, the employer may have a different policy of insurance that would cover the driver. These are all things to look for when the offending motor vehicle is found to have been uninsured at the time of the accident.
If the offending motor vehicle is uninsured and there are no other valid types of insurance in effect, you are not out of luck. You may be able to make an uninsured motorist (“UM” or supplementary underinsured motorist (“SUM”) claim with your own insurance company.
What is Uninsured Motorist and Supplementary Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Most people think of car insurance as something that protects you and your assets in the event that you or a family member cause harm to another person on New York roadways. While your car insurance policy does provide this sort of coverage—known as Bodily Injury Liability coverage—the policy also contains coverage that protects you and your family members in the event you are injured by an uninsured motorist. This is called UM or SUM coverage, and it acts as a safety net, protecting you and your family from financially irresponsible motorists.
Assume that the at-fault motorist does not have car insurance at the time of the accident. Assume further that a jury would award you $100,000 for your pain and suffering at trial, making this a fair settlement number. If you have SUM coverage of at least $100,000 per person, you would be able to turn to your own car insurance company and demand payment of $100,000.
UM and SUM coverage can be a very powerful tool, but there are a number of legal requirements associated with the coverage.
Injured In A Car Accident? Call William Mattar.
Our injury attorneys have the experience to identify these legal requirements and meet them so that you can avail yourself to the coverage you deserve. If you have been injured by the operator of an uninsured motor vehicle, do not despair. We can help and are available 24/7. Contact our car accident attorneys at William Mattar law offices today at844-444-4444.