How New Yorkers Can Protect Themselves Against Drunk & Uninsured Drivers

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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New Yorkers must carry a certain minimum amount of insurance to drive a vehicle in the state. Unfortunately, those minimum amounts might not be enough to protect an individual’s or a family’s assets in a serious accident – but there are ways to protect those assets.

Being adequately covered

Can a person obtain additional insurance to protect themselves or their family from the negligence of someone else, including a drunk driver or an uninsured driver? Yes, according to Ira Slavit, a New York attorney in practice for over 20 years whose firm concentrates its practice in personal injury matters and medical malpractice litigation, and it relates to the uninsured or underinsurance part of your own insurance policy. He explained:

If you look at the declarations page of your insurance policy written in the State of New York, there are different categories of coverage. One is liability and another is called supplementary uninsured coverage. There are different dollar limits for the different categories. The liability part of the coverage insures you in case your negligence, or the negligence of someone using the vehicle with your permission, causes injury to somebody else. That’s how much coverage you have from your own company and the limit of what your own insurance company will pay in the event that you are negligent and cause somebody else harm.

The supplementary uninsured motorist’s coverage actually protects you, the policy holder, your family and anyone who may be riding in your car if somebody else is negligent. So, as an example, if you’re in a car and somebody hits you and they have the minimum $25,000 of liability insurance, but you have $100,000 of supplementary uninsured motorist coverage, then there’s another $75,000 that you can recover from your own company.

New York Accidents involving pedestrians

The same holds true if you are a pedestrian and you’re hit by another vehicle; your uninsured or underinsured coverage will provide you benefits even though your vehicle had nothing to do with the accident, according to Slavit. He continued, “We’ve all heard stories of a taxicab or vehicle mounting a curb and hitting a number of pedestrians. While it may be a situation in which there is a decent amount of coverage, it may not be enough coverage due to the number of people injured. Pedestrians who have this supplementary uninsured coverage would have additional benefits they could collect under their own policy.”

New York insurance minimums

Every insurance policy in New York has to have the minimum $25,000/$50,000 coverage of this supplementary uninsured motorist coverage, according to Slavit, who told us that while that’s the required amount, people have the option of purchasing more, up to the amount of the liability coverage.

He says that obtaining greater amounts of coverage isn’t terribly more expensive than purchasing the minimum amounts. “The premium for additional supplementary uninsured coverage is significantly less than the additional premium that you pay if you want to raise your liability coverage. It’s often something that people don’t think about when they’re getting insurance. They just say, “How much coverage do I have?” They tend to just be thinking about the liability coverage, whereas they can increase their own supplementary uninsured motorist coverage and significantly protect them and their family for not that much more money.”

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident in New York, contact an experienced New York auto accident attorney to discuss your situation confidentially.

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