Drivers are not normally allowed to sue another party in a car accident unless there is ample reason, such as expensive medical bills, provable and severe injuries, or provable negligence. However, most auto accident lawsuits proceed under the assumption that both parties have adequate car insurance. What happens when one or both parties are uninsured, and the victimized party files a lawsuit?
How New York’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Work
New York is a “no-fault” state. That means the majority of car accidents will be resolved with neither party assigned overall fault.
In a typical car accident, both drivers file claims with their respective insurance companies. Rather than take each other to court to prove who is at fault or to pay for medical or property bills, insurance companies pay for the losses of the person they insure in the majority of circumstances.
This system streamlines auto accident resolutions most of the time. However, lawsuits are possible in cases where clear negligence can be proven or where a victim’s medical or property expenses are high.
New York’s Car Insurance Requirements
To make the above no-fault system work, New York requires all vehicle owners to carry a minimum amount of insurance. Insurance companies typically include the minimum requirements in all of their packages. New York’s car insurance requirements include:
- $25,000 of liability coverage for bodily injuries
- $50,000 of total liability bodily coverage per accident caused by the insurance holder
- $10,000 of liability coverage for property damage
- $50,000 of no-fault personal injury protection coverage
- $25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage or UM (also called under-insured motorist or UIM)
How Do Accident Lawsuits Work Under No-Fault Laws?
When a car accident victim decides to sue another party, they must prove that negligence on the part of the other driver directly contributed to the accident, along with any medical expenses or property damage they might have received as a result.
Because auto accidents can be complex, victims usually hire knowledgeable auto accident attorneys so they can present the best cases possible and receive the maximum amount of compensation.
When the at-fault party in an auto accident is sued and found guilty, they are not directly charged. Instead, their auto insurance company foots the bill here as well. Otherwise, at-fault parties might go bankrupt paying for exorbitant medical fees charged to an auto accident victim. Or, worse, not be able to pay the full damages incurred.
Complications may arise if either party in an auto accident is not insured.
Can an Accident Victim Sue Another Driver if They Aren’t Insured?
Yes. There are no laws against it, so an accident victim can still press a lawsuit against an at-fault party if they themselves are not insured. However, bringing a lack of insurance to the attention of the authorities, such as the police who should be called to the scene after an accident, will likely result in heavy fines.
It’s illegal to not have car insurance as a vehicle owner in New York. Uninsured accident victims will not always be able to recoup costs for fines or other expenses, including potential licensure revocation.
What if the “At-Fault” Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If an accident victim sues an at-fault driver who does not have insurance, they can still get the compensation they need to cover medical expenses or the cost to repair or replace property.
The above-mentioned UM/UIM policies are in place specifically for this purpose. In such a scenario, the accident victim’s insurance company will stand in for the at-fault and uninsured driver. All New York car insurance policies have at least $25,000 in UM coverage as a default part of basic packages or subscriptions.
Contact New York Car Accident Lawyers Today
Although it’s possible to sue the at-fault party in a car accident without insurance, doing so can be tricky. Auto accident victims should seek out skilled legal representation so they can form the best case possible. Sobo & Sobo have decades of collective experience in auto accident lawsuits and trials and are ready and willing to help with any new case. Contact them today for a free consultation.