An auto accident can be life-altering, so it’s ideal to have as much insurance coverage as possible and understand what your policy covers and does not. Otherwise, you might end up with an unpleasant surprise.
At the time of impact, it’s too late to ensure either the driver or the victim has adequate insurance coverage.
While liability coverage for bodily injury — which covers both the driver’s and victim’s injuries — is mandatory in the state of New York, drivers are only required to have $50,000 of it and that, according to Gregory Pajak, is woefully inadequate.
“Most people have no idea how much liability insurance they even have,” said Pajak, managing attorney at Cellino Law. “They just assume that when they tell their insurance agent, ‘I want full coverage,’ they are covered for everything. Unless you have specified a higher amount with your agent at the time of purchase, you probably have the state’s minimum amount.”
And seriously injured individuals can quickly rack up expenses for hospital stays, medical devices, physical therapy, prescriptions, surgery, rehab and emergency treatment. More serious injuries will require future medical expenses.
Individuals often incur other unforeseeable setbacks from an accident, such as the potential of lost wages due to the injury, pain and emotional suffering, as well as property damage (car or motorcycle, for example). The cost for these expenses can easily exceed the $25,000 minimum in coverage.
To cover such expenses, Pajak recommends individuals carry $500,000 to $1 million in liability protection, which he said does not add up to much more in one’s monthly insurance payment.
“While there is an increase in payment, it’s not as much as you would expect, especially when the endgame is that you are providing sufficient coverage that protects not only the victim, but yourself,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking when you have an individual who thinks their catastrophic injuries are covered because they have car insurance, only to find out they are eligible for just $25,000 in compensation.”
“A lot of people when hearing this then say, ‘Well, I’ll just sue the driver and go after his home and money,’” Pajak said. “But it doesn’t work that way. Because a personal injury judgement is considered an unsecured debt in the state of New York, suing a driver for compensation is not a viable option; drivers in the state can just declare bankruptcy to avoid payment.”
In addition to liability insurance, Pajak recommends drivers protect themselves with supplementary uninsured motorist coverage, which adds extra protection for individuals that extends compensation far beyond the other driver’s limits, especially if it turns out that driver is either underinsured or uninsured.
Cellino Law, which has served the Buffalo area for more than 60 years, provides a risk-free, and free, initial consultation to all injury victims, with payment, only occurring when a case is won.
For more information, contact us at 800-555-5555.
Sponsored content by Mary McHugh, Brand Ave. Studios contributing writer
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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