Vehicle Accident FAQs

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Vehicle Accident FAQs

What if I was partially to blame in causing the accident?

New York follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, meaning that even if you were partially to blame for the accident, you can still recover compensation for your injuries from a negligent defendant. In these situations, your damages are reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you by the jury.

There are times when you may actually be partially to blame. For instance, both drivers could be speeding or distracted at the moment of impact. Other times, however, it may simply be the strategy of the defense to claim that you were negligent, in an attempt to escape liability or lessen the amount of any jury verdict against the defendant. Part of your attorney’s job, in addition to proving the defendant’s liability, is to guard against baseless claims of the plaintiff’s own negligence, and make sure that you receive every penny that you are entitled to.

Do I need an attorney if I am just dealing with my own insurance company?

Even under a no-fault insurance system, there are many reasons why you will want to be represented by independent counsel. For instance, the insurance company may deny your claim or refuse to pay all the benefits to which you are entitled. Also, there are many different ways in which your damages may exceed the limits of your no-fault policy, and you may need to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to obtain full compensation.

The time to file for benefits after an accident is very brief. Contact an attorney who knows the system, and make sure that you do not lose your right to benefits by missing a deadline or filing a claim improperly.

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What’s the difference between UM, UIM, and SUM?

UM stands for Uninsured Motorist coverage. UM coverage applies if you are struck by an uninsured driver, if the driver was insured but the insurance company denies coverage, or if you are the victim of a hit-and-run. UIM stands for Underinsured Motorist and covers you in the event you are hit by an insured driver whose policy limits are inadequate to compensate you properly.

SUM stands for Supplementary Uninsured Motorist. The SUM policy was prepared by the Insurance Department in 1993 to close gaps in coverage that occurred among the many different UM and UIM endorsements being issued by the various insurance companies.

There are several steps that must be completed in a timely fashion to properly file a SUM claim. It is important to know what type of coverage you have in order to make a timely claim and follow the proper procedures to obtain compensation. 

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