Underinsurance Car Accident Claims

When you are injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver in the State of New York, because of the complexities of New York’s No-Fault law and New York State insurance regulations, it is essential that you retain an attorney with the requisite experience and knowledge to assure that you receive all possible insurance benefits and coverage to compensate you for all of your injuries and lost earnings. The White Plains Car Accident Attorneys at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel have the necessary background and dedication to assure that your case will be handled expeditiously, professionally and diligently from its inception to conclusion, by way of trial or settlement.

New York law requires that all owners of motor vehicles have automobile liability limits of at least $25,000.00. Drivers in New York must carry liability benefits of $25,000 to pay for pain and suffering claims or a minimum of $50,000 for wrongful death if they negligently cause injury or death to the occupants of another motor vehicle. Additionally, under the “No-fault” provisions of the New York State Law, you are automatically entitled to a minimum of up to $50,000 in what is called “PIP” benefits, (“personal injury protection.”) The distinction is that pain and suffering claims are made against the other driver’s insurance, whereas medical and hospital bills (and lost earnings up to a maximum of $2,000 per month for a maximum of three years) would be filed against your own no-fault insurance company.

However, what about an instance where the victim of a car crash has injuries and or financial losses which are worth well in excess of the $25,000 liability policy limits of the wrongdoing other driver? In this scenario, the issue of “underinsurance” coverage or what is known as “SUM” insurance is vitally important. “SUM” coverage stands for “supplemental underinsurance motorist”, and this coverage only applies in certain circumstances. As an example, if the driver of an automobile suffers injuries which are worth well in excess of the liability limits of the negligent other driver who caused those injuries, the injured driver can make an underinsurance claim if his or her “SUM” coverage is in excess of the liability limits of the wrongdoer. Thus, if the injured driver has $100,000 in SUM coverage, and the negligent other driver has $25,000 liability limits, the injured driver is eligible for up to $75,000 in SUM benefits, if he or she first collects the $25,000 from the negligent other driver’s car insurance, and then makes a claim against his own SUM coverage. The SUM carrier gets credit for the $25,000 the injured person has already received from the other insurance company.

There are several requirements in filing a SUM claim which make it essential that your attorney be fully versed in this area of law. For example, an underinsurance claim can only be filed if it is done so in a prompt fashion, often before the attorney knows what the policy limits of the negligent other driver are. Further, underinsurance coverage only applies if the SUM coverage of the client exceeds that of the other car; if the wrongdoing car has the identical policy limits, or policy limits of the driver at fault are in excess of the SUM coverage, then the SUM Coverage does not apply. Additionally, the SUM carrier is entitled to conduct a deposition of its own insured, known as an “EUO” or examination under oath, to inquire as to its own insured’s injuries and medical treatment, and to physical examinations by doctors of its choosing to analyze its insured’s injuries.

If you or a loved one are injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident, or bus accident, contact our office today for a free consultation.