What you don’t know about your own car insurance policy may hurt you. Often times, when we buy insurance, we are worried about the property damage or what happens if we get sued. However, just as important is what happens if you are the victim of a hit and run accident. The purpose of this article is to help show you how to protect yourself in the event of an accident where it becomes impossible to identify the defendant.
In New York, an injured person may recover against their own insurance company if they are a victim of a hit and run accident. This coverage is offered on every car insurance policy and it is called “Uninsured Motorists Coverage.” Unfortunately, this part of the insurance policy is overlooked by too many people. Many insurance brokers and online retailers fail to demonstrate the importance of this coverage to their customers. If you do not have ample Underinsured Motorist Coverage, then it is highly likely there simply will not be enough money to properly compensate you for your injuries.
Recently we represented an injured veteran who was involved in a hit and run motorcycle accident. If you are a victim of a hit and run accident it is of the utmost importance that you report the accident to the police. If there is not a police report, your insurance company will likely not allow you to recover from your Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Our client reported the accident immediately. A police report was filled out which detailed both how and where the accident happened. He was riding his motorcycle on a bridge in Nassau County at approximately 1 a.m. As he was slowing down, he was hit from behind. The impact caused him to be thrown from his bike. During the commotion the vehicle which hit him took off without ever stopping at the scene. The victim, who rolled several feet after hitting the ground, never saw which hit him.
Following the accident, the victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance and was treated for significant injuries. He suffered a fracture to his left ankle so severe that he had to undergo surgery. During the surgery the doctors had to use a plate and multiple screws in an effort to repair his ankle. Although they were able to stabilize the ankle, he underwent and continues to undergo physical therapy.
In addition to his ankle, the victim sustained injuries to his neck and back. He began treating for those injuries shortly after the surgery to his ankle.
After his surgery, the motorcyclist called our office to retain our legal services. Upon hearing about his case, the first step is to always launch an investigation in an attempt to find the vehicle which hit him. However, with no cameras, license plates or other witnesses, even the most thorough attempts may not result in finding the wrongdoer.
If the proper defendant cannot be found, the next step is to turn to the victim’s own insurance company. The client had Underinsured Motorist Protection on his policy in the amount of $25,000. In New York, $25,000 is the minimum amount of coverage a person can purchase. After determining the policy limit, we were able to swiftly secure the full policy amount.
The lesson here is not that a settlement was secured swiftly. Quite the contrary. The motorcyclist sustained injuries which are often worth hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars. Had the appropriate insurance coverage been available, it is likely that he would have received significantly more money from his settlement. However, when he was purchasing this insurance, this option was not properly and fully explained to him.
We at The Platta Law Firm encourage each of you to view your own insurance policies. If you are in an accident, you may be able to recover against only your insurance policy and the policy of a family member that you live with. Often you will find that you have more protection for other people than for yourselves. Increasing your Uninsured Motorist Coverage is often the least expensive injury protection to increase. It is important that we protect ourselves from unforeseen danger. After all, that is the purpose of insurance in the first place.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, please reach out to us for a free legal consultation by calling 24/7 at 212-514-5100, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting our law firm in Lower Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions through the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.