What You Should Know About New York Liability Insurance

New York, like all states. requires vehicle owners to carry liability insurance.  The minimum liability insurance required in New York is as follows:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury (not death) to one person in any one accident
  • $50,000 for injury resulting in the death of one person in one accident
  • $50,000 for injury (not death) of two or more persons in any one accident
  • $100,000 for injury resulting in death of two or more persons in one accident.
  • $10,000 for injury to or harm to property of others in one accident.  N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 341 (Consol. 2002).

Vehicle liability insurance is designed to protect us against damages suffered if we are injured by another driver, and to protect the driver from suddenly having to pay potentially tens of thousands of dollars or more as the result of an accident caused by them.

While the amounts set forth above are the minimum amounts required by New York law, most insurance agents and financial planners suggest obtaining insurance in amounts substantially higher than the required amounts. In a severe accident in which serious injury or death occur, such amounts are likely to be wholly inadequate to pay for the full damages sustained.  In such case, the plaintiff (the person bringing a lawsuit for damages) would be entitled to recover payment out of the personal assets of the driver after the insurance limits have been paid. Obtaining insurance with higher limits serves to better protect drivers from such an event.

The Duty to Defend

Liability insurance also carries with it a “duty to defend,” under which the insurance carrier will be required to defend a lawsuit against its insured owner or driver, even if the owner’s or driver’s liability is not established.  However, lawsuits in New York must be filed against the negligent driver and may not also name the insurance carrier as a defendant. In fact, the jury is not allowed to have information regarding the existence or extent of the defendant’s insurance coverage. If the jury renders a verdict in excess of the defendant’s liability policy limit, the defendant may be personally liable out of his or her own assets for the additional amount.

Our Representation and Investigation Concerning Available Insurance

When we represent a person injured in an accident, we will determine all insurance coverage available. This includes your own “first party” coverage, available to meet medical expenses and damage to your vehicle, as well as the negligent driver’s liability (“third party”) coverage, covering his or her responsibility to pay for injury caused to other people.

If you have been injured, please call us at your earliest convenience so that we may learn about your case.

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