You may know that New York State is a No-Fault jurisdiction. This means
that all motor vehicle insurance policies speak towards No-Fault and that
insurance policies will cover the costs attributable to car accidents
without the need to prove which driver(s) was at fault. Be advised, the
definition of a motor vehicle under the No-Fault statue does not include
Experienced Kingston motor vehicle accident attorneys know that medical and wage benefits provided under No-Fault laws will
not cover a motorcyclist. At the same time, since a motorcyclist is not
covered, the biker will not have to prove that he or she suffered a serious
injury in order to collect maximum benefits. Therefore, if a motorcyclist
suffers from only a “minor” injury, he or she can still sue
the other driver despite not satisfying the serious injury threshold.
If you have been in a
motorcycle accident, or know someone who has, than you know how catastrophic a motorcycle
accident can be. It isn’t hard to imagine either. Even for relatively
minor injuries, the time lost from work and the expense of medical bills
can be financially devastating.
Basic motorcycle insurance in New York might not be enough to cover your
financial troubles considering that $25,000 is the minimum insurance requirement.
Of course, if there is a death, then the minimum required coverage is
$50,000. The minimum is increased to $50,000 and $100,000 if two or more
people are injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, respectively.
Supplemental Under/Uninsured Motorist (“SUM”) insurance can help bridge the gap if the person who harmed the motorcyclist only
carried the minimum insurance coverage required by New York State. But
motorcyclists must make sure that their policies include SUM coverage.
It is the intelligent,
proactive approach that motorcyclists can and should take so that an accident can be covered under the motorcyclist’s own
policy when the opposing driver did not have enough insurance coverage.
Of course this carries a higher cost, but the cost is de minimus, especially
in comparison to the cost of medical bills and lost wages.
Also note that SUM provisions in your motorcycle insurance policy will
not apply to every
motorcycle accident. It will only become relevant if the driver that caused your accident
caused injuries and damages in excess of his or her insurance policy limits.
Remember, the minimum limits are not that high; only $25,000 per person.
Also be cautious in thinking that suing the offending driver will net the
motorcyclist a greater reward. This is because the offending driver will
be defended by his insurance carrier and absent some exceptions, the insurance
company will only be required to pay up to the coverage provided under
the policy, even if a jury verdict awarded more to the motorcyclist. The
difference between what the insurance company is forced to pay and what
the jury awarded the victim is then owed by the driver at fault. But winning
a lawsuit and collecting on the judgment that was awarded are two different issues.
This doesn’t mean that an injured biker shouldn’t sue for a
motorcycle crash. A lawsuit may be the only way to obtain a proper level of compensation.
Nonetheless, it is possible that the offending driver will not have the
means to pay. If he or she doesn’t, then the motorcyclist that had
SUM coverage can file a claim with his or her own insurance carrier to
cover the remaining balance.