You should have a good sense of what to do following an accident. We have provided the the following checklists to assist you in your research:
- How to check that you have the right type of insurance
- What to do if you are in an accident
- What to do if you are hurt on the job
- Special notice to Clients on Auto Coverage – Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Coverage
- Your medical Log and How to use it
SUPPLEMENTARY UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS COVERAGE
Every auto policy with Liability Coverage includes protection at minimum bodily injury limits of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for you and your passengers in the event of bodily injury sustained in an accident in the State of New York for which an unidentified or uninsured driver (i.e., stolen car, hit and run, policy cancelled) is legally liable. As additional protection, Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists (SUM) Coverage is available. It provides protection for both in- state and out-of-state accidents.
SUM coverage may be carried with limits up to the bodily injury limits you have chosen. Below is a list of the limits that are typically available.
SUM Coverage Limits
Per Person/Per Accident
- $ 25,000/$ 50,000- Not recommended.
- $ 50,000/$100,000- Not recommended.
- $100,000/$300,000- The least you should have.
- $250,000/$500,000- Strongly recommended.
Basics of SUM coverage
- A person should purchase SUM coverage in order to protect against the possibility of an accident involving another motor vehicle whose owner or operator was at fault and who:
- May have no insurance whatsoever; or
- Even if insured, is only insured at relatively low liability limits, in comparison to your own liability limits for bodily injury.
- By purchasing SUM coverage, you and your family can:
- Be protected for bodily injury to themselves, up to the limit of the coverage purchased; and
- Receive from your own insurer payment for bodily injury sustained due to the fault of the other motor vehicle’s owner or operator.
- Your SUM coverage protects you and your family even when you are not in your car. It is a layer of protection even when you are in someone else’s car, riding your bicycle or crossing the street. SUM is in fact one of the most essential coverages to obtain for you and your family.
Call the police immediately so that a proper police report can be made documenting the accident. In New York State, if you are involved in a vehicle accident causing injury to person or property, you are required to stop and give your name, address, and show your driver’s license and insurance identification card to the person who is injured or whose property is damaged, or to a police officer. If such information isn’t available at the scene of the accident, it must be given to the nearest police station or judicial officer as soon as possible. Don’t let the other driver convince you to “just go through the insurance” or that they will “take care of it.” People often change their story when they leave the accident scene and are without a police report. The report done at the time and place of the accident will make any future claim much more difficult.
2.) Injured persons.
If you are injured or have pain, call an ambulance at once. It is very important to document the fact that you were injured in the accident. If you delay in getting treatment, it can affect any claim you may bring seeking compensation for your injuries.
3.) Protect the scene.
Make every effort to prevent further accidents. You may be liable for damages to approaching vehicles unless they are properly warned. Vehicles should not be left in a position of danger on a highway if they can be moved, nor should passengers remain in such a vehicle. Carry a disposable camera in your car and take photographs of the accident scene and involved vehicles. Set out flares and reflectors if they are available.
4.) Trade facts with other drivers.
Obtain the names and addresses of all other drivers involved, along with the names and addresses of other passengers. Also note the ownership, license number, year and make of all cars involved in the accident. Obtain the names of the insurance companies and the policy numbers covering the other autos in the accident. By law, an insurance policy information card must be carried in every vehicle licensed in New York State. These cards can be your source for such information. Do not sign any statements at the scene as to how or why the accident occurred.
5.) Get the names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible
Witnesses will be a tremendous help to you in any subsequent court action, if there is any question of liability involved. Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of as many witnesses as possible. If they refuse to identify themselves, jot down the license numbers of their automobiles.
Do not discuss the accident with the witnesses. Do not give their names to anyone but the police, your attorney or your insurance company. Remember to get the name and badge number of any police officials who appear on the scene.
6. ) Write down the details of the accident
Make a note of the details of the accident, including date and time, road conditions, weather conditions and speed of all other cars involved. It also is a good idea to draw a diagram of the accident showing the position and direction of the cars just prior to and after the accident. Do not share this information with anyone at the scene, save it for your attorney.
7.) Report the accident to the commissioner of motor vehicles and to your insurance company.
The law requires that the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident in New York State in which a person is killed or injured or one in which damage to the property of any person, including himself, exceeds $1,000 must file a written report with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. If the operator is unable to make such a report, another participant must make it within the prescribed period. Remember to keep copies of all correspondence and reports for your records. The law further provides that if an operator or participant is unable to make this report, the owner of the vehicle must do so within 10 days after learning of the accident. Failure to comply with the law is a misdemeanor and could be grounds for suspension or revocation of the operator’s driving license, or certificate of registration for the vehicle. Your local police station or insurance agent will help prepare the necessary forms (MV-104).
Remember to call your insurance company representative immediately after the accident. Don’t forget to send written notice to your insurance company as soon as possible. The notice should include the time, place and circumstances of the accident. If you fail to notify your insurance company of the accident in writing within a reasonable time, this could be grounds for the company’s denying any obligation to protect your interests in the event a claim is made against you.
You only have thirty (30) days to provide your insurance company with proper notice of a claim for no-fault benefits. Also, make sure your report contains the names of all injured persons (including passengers, pedestrians, and drivers and the names of all available witnesses.
8.) Claims made against you.
Refer all persons making claims against you to your insurance company. Make no payments, or promises to pay, to any claimant. Immediately send your insurance company all legal papers served on you. If the coverage you have purchased is not adequate to cover the claims made against you, consult your lawyer at once. Remember, you may have insurance coverage under more than one policy.
9.) Claims made by you.
If you are injured, see a doctor as soon as possible. Potentially serious and costly injuries may seem trivial at first.
Where accidents occur within New York State, automobile insurance policies include provisions for payments to operators and passengers of automobiles, and to pedestrians for medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses, regardless of fault.
If you have any questions about your right to sue for either personal injury or property damage, consult your attorney.
10.) No-Fault insurance benefits in New York State
Under New York State’s compulsory no-fault automobile insurance law, persons injured in a motor vehicle accident are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in benefits provided they were not intoxicated, drugged or engaged in other specified criminal or anti-social behavior. The no-fault benefits include:
- All necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses.
- Lost earnings up to $2,000 a month for up to three years from the date of the accident. There is a 20% reduction of actual lost earnings.
- Up to $25 a day for a year for other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred because of the accident, such as the cost of hiring a housekeeper to perform the household services usually performed by the injured person.
These benefits are payable regardless of who was to blame for the accident. Some policies may contain additional benefits, but each policy must be examined to determine what its benefits are.
11.) The right to sue.
- For your medical expenses and other economic losses when they exceed $50,000
- For “pain and suffering” if you suffer an injury that results in significant disfigurement, a fracture, or other kinds of significant injury as defined under the no-fault law.
- For injury resulting in death.
- When the injured person or the person at fault does not have insurance complying with the New York State minimum provisions.
Under no-fault, you, as an accident victim, retain the right to sue a negligent operator and owner of a covered vehicle for personal injury losses in certain cases:
New York State requires a minimum of $25,000/$50,000 personal liability coverage, $10,000 in property damage and $50,000 in the event of a wrongful death; in addition to the no-fault coverage.
12.) Property damage
Claims for damages to your vehicle still will be covered by your own collision or comprehensive insurance policy, if you have one. As in the past, if another motorist is at fault in an accident, you retain the right to sue the person for property damage. New York requires a minimum $10,000 property damage coverage. If the owner or operator is uninsured, you should consult your attorney immediately.
13.) Hit and Run
If your vehicle (or person) is struck by a vehicle which leaves the scene of the accident you must notify the police within 24 hours. Make sure that a police accident report is properly made and immediately notify your insurance company. You should also immediately contact an attorney to learn what notice needs to be provided to your insurance company.
14.) Stolen or uninsured vehicle.
If your vehicle (or person) is struck by a vehicle that is stolen or uninsured, make sure that the police are notified and a report made. You must also immediately notify your insurance company and immediately contact an attorney to learn what notice needs to be provided to your insurance company.
- Immediately report your accident to your Supervisor/Employer.
- Make sure that your employer prepares an accident report that correctly states how the accident occurred and what your injuries are.
- Get names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
- Take photographs of the accident scene.
- Document your injuries by visiting a physician or hospital as soon as possible.
- Discuss your accident and injuries with an attorney to learn what you may be entitled to (Worker’s Compensation) and whether you may have a case.
- The New York State Labor Law imposes a special duty upon building owners and general contractors to provide proper protection/safety equipment to construction workers. This law also provides protection to painters, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, alarm installers and all trades if they are performing alterations and/or repairs, installation, demolition, etc. Each accident and injury is very fact specific so please call to find out if your accident qualifies for recovery under the Labor Law. You do not have to be injured on a construction site to qualify, many everyday work activities are covered.
As you know, this office handles serious accident cases of all types, as well as injuries caused by medical malpractice and other negligence, including defective products. You should always contact us in case of any serious injury and let us decide if you have a potential case. Some cases are not easy to identify.
Many of our cases involve serious injuries caused by automobile accidents. By far, the biggest problem we face with automobile accidents is that there is usually insufficient coverage to adequately compensate the injured victims. New York requires only $25,000 in coverage for drivers to register their cars. As a result, we are seeing cases worth $750,000 or more settle for $25,000, as it is the only available amount to pay for injuries (they are “underinsured”). Or, in some cases because of New York State Laws, a husband/wife cannot recover any money if the spouse was the at fault driver in an accident. Both these situations have remedies -you can be prepared.
You can prevent this and protect your family in case of an auto accident.
In the first instance, by purchasing SUM (Supplemental Underinsured Motorist) coverage, you can “buy” insurance to cover you and your family for injuries caused by another negligent driver. Since the majority of negligent drivers are young, chances are high that if you get seriously hurt in an auto accident, the coverage will be $25,000 and nothing more. That’s where SUM applies. SUM insurance insures you and your family (and anyone in your car) above and beyond the offending driver’s coverage. You need to get this, and in an amount as high as you can afford (try to get at least get $250,000 -more, if possible). Typically, SUM is not very expensive. We recommend you purchase significant SUM coverage immediately. Recently, we settled a case where our client had taken our advice from our newsletter, and, as a result, she received Three Times the Amount she otherwise would have received without SUM coverage. This is IMPORTANT to get. She is very glad she purchased this coverage on our advice. Be aware that most policies will automatically include UNinsured motorist, but this is very different from underinsurance. They are NOT the same; check your policy or ask us or your agent.
Several months from now, we will be preparing a very detailed list of your past injuries to give to the Defendant. In this document, called a Bill of Particulars, we need very detailedinformation, including the items shown below. The more specific you are the more it helps us to expedite the preparation of your case.
Each day, note the following:
- What part of your body hurts
- Whether or not you are still confined to your bed
- Whether or not you are out of bed, but still confined to the house
- The day you finally return to work
- Name, address, and specialty of doctors that you see for treatment
- Names of any medical tests that your doctors send you for
- Length of any further hospitalization
- Names of any prescribed medicine
- Names and amounts of any over-the-counter medication you take
- The date you stopped taking any medication
A sample medical log might look like this:
Home from work because of knee pain
Headache all day
Saw Dr. Smith for therapy
Pick up prescription from CVS
Took Tylenol all day for neck pain
No- Fault Exam in Anytown @ 1:45 p.m.
MRI in Mytown @ 10:00 a.m.
Had trouble walking today
If there is any other information you feel is necessary for us to process your case note it in the Log. This Log is being given to you because most people will not remember these details months later when it is crucial to remember them. For example, your deposition (wherein the Defendant’s attorney will ask you questions regarding your accident and injuries) may not take place until many months after your accident; so it you are asked, “how long did you treat with Dr. Jones?” or “when was the last time you saw the orthopedist?”, you will probably not remember.