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What You Risk by Not Purchasing Underinsurance Coverage on Your Auto Policy

Many clients who suffer serious injuries from a motor vehicle accident are unable to obtain adequate compensation for their injuries because of two reasons, 1) the negligent driver who caused the accident only had a $25,000 insurance policy and no significant assets and 2) the injured person failed to take out underinsured motorist protection on their auto policy.  While you cannot control the actions of the negligent driver, you can control what insurance coverage you provide for you and your family.

What is Underinsured motorist coverage?

When you take out an auto insurance policy, you have a choice to add underinsurance motorist coverage, and the choose the amount.  This auto coverage adds additional insurance coverage in the event a negligent driver’s own insurance coverage is not adequate to fairly compensate you for your injuries.

For example, if a negligent driver hits your vehicle while stopped at a traffic light, causing you to suffer serious injuries resulting in surgery, but the defendant driver only had a $25,000 insurance policy and no other coverage, you would not be able to recover more than that amount from the insurance carrier.  However, if you had taken out $250,000 underinsurance coverage, you would be able to settle with the negligent driver for the $25,000, and then have a claim against  your own insurance company for an additional $225,000 ($250,000 minus $25,000 equals $225,000).

While it is true that you can always take the case to verdict instead, the insurance policy coverage of the defendant will remain the same.  For example, if a jury comes back with a $250,000 verdict after a trial the insurance company would still only pay their $25,000 policy.  A balance of $225,000 for the verdict remains and you now will have a piece of paper called a “judgment” for that amount.  But how does that translate to actual money?  A collections attorney would now need to be hired to try and collect those monies from the defendant through either garnishing wages or forcing the sale of assets.  This is a very lengthy process and the defendant may choose to file for bankruptcy complicating the matter as well.

Unfortunately, the costs of the litigation for the jury trial required paying your doctors to testify which significantly reduced the amount of the $25,000 settlement proceeds, possible preventing any recovery for the injured person.  This is a reality for many accident victims, which can be easily avoided by purchasing underinsurance coverage, which I highly recommend to all drivers as soon as possible. The yearly additional cost to the overall premium is usually very reasonable, and the benefits well worth the coverage.

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

If a negligent driver causes an accident, but leaves the scene and cannot be identified, or failed to have auto insurance coverage, you may still recover for your injuries in a claim against your own insurance company with uninsured motorist coverage.  For example, if the uninsured motorist coverage for your policy is only $25,000, then that will be the limit of the coverage for such an accident.  The higher the uninsured motorist coverage, the more you are protected in the event of such an accident.  Both uninsured and underinsured coverage are usually sold together as one package and amount, but you should check with your insurance company with all the available options and costs.

Brett J. Nomberg

I am a personal injury trial lawyer who has been successfully litigating bus, truck, and auto accidents for over 25 years in New York State, and the former Chairman of the NYC Bar Committee, Tort Division.  I have taken multiple million-dollar verdicts and won numerous appeals.  My partner Steven Rosenbaum litigates Workers Compensation cases for those injured on the job, as well as Social Security Disability matters. We each provide free consultations, and there is no fee unless we win.

Select A Practice Area

Construction Accident

$1,700,000

$1.7 million verdict in New York County against the driver of a delivery truck who struck a man as he was crossing the street within the crosswalk in Manhattan.

Motor Vehicle Accident

$3,600,000

$3.6 Million settlement in New York Supreme Court for a Spanish speaking construction worker who fell off a 6 foot ladder and landed onto metal and wooden debris. The worker required lumbar spinal surgery for his injuries and needed surgeries to both knees from the fall. The worker could not return to work and suffered depression from his injuries resulting in a suicide attempt.

Construction Accident

$3,200,000

$3.2 million verdict in Queens Supreme Court for an undocumented Polish speaking construction worker who fell 12 feet during a demolition project. The worker fractured a vertebrae and herniated several discs in his spine requiring surgery. The plaintiff was unable to return back to work due to his injuries.

Motor Vehicle Accident

$1,500,000

$1.5 million verdict in Supreme Court Kings County for a woman struck by a car that jumped the curb and hit the pedestrian while standing on the sidewalk across from Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

Slip And Fall Accident

$1,900,000

$1.9 million verdict in New York Supreme Court for a bank manager who slipped and fell on a wet floor, resulting in spinal injuries. The building owner knew about a recurring leak inside the basement cafeteria but failed to correct the problem.

Construction Accident

$2,000,000

$2 million settlement in Queens Supreme Court for Polish construction worker who fell 2 stories from a bucket. The worker’s supervisor told the construction worker to ride the material bucket down to use the bathroom because it would save time. The worker fractured his pelvis in several places requiring surgery and was unable to return to work.

Medical Malpractice

$4,500,000

Defense counsel offers 11 cents to settle before trial and the jury renders a verdict of $4.5 million dollars for a medical malpractice victim and his wife. The action was commenced in New York Supreme Court for a patient who suffered massive internal bleeding during a lower back surgery when the surgeon negligently cut an artery and failed to promptly treat the condition, causing a loss of oxygen and injury to the brain. The anesthesiologist failed to properly monitor the patient’s vitals during the surgery and alert the surgeon of the drop in blood pressure.

Assault

$1,250,000

$1.25 million settlement in New York Supreme Court against building owner for negligent security that caused two women to be assaulted while leaving work. A masked man entered their elevator from a floor that was supposed to be closed off for construction. The assailant used a metal pipe to attack the two women. The two women split the settlement monies.

Construction Accident

$1,500,000

$1.5 Million settlement in New York Supreme Court for a construction worker who was struck by a piece of concrete that fell on his head and back. Workers above were chipping concrete despite knowing that people were working directly below them. The plaintiff required surgery on his neck but made a good recovery.

Medical Malpractice

$3,900,000

$3.9 million settlement in Supreme Court Kings County for a Brooklyn man who suffered a stroke shortly following an eye surgery. The patient was given medical clearance for local anesthesia but instead was placed under general anesthesia for 7 hours. The patient’s blood pressure was not well controlled resulting in a 30 minute hypertensive emergency near the end of the operation. The patient died after 7 years of living in different nursing homes.

CLIENT REVIEWS

    I did not think myself that we will win this difficult matter and become victorious, especially after being rejected by numerous other attorneys…but your professionalism Brett, dedication and determination, not to mention a huge heart, was how we prevailed

ALEKSANDER J.

    When I brought my situation to a local attorney he directed me to Brett Nomberg, and I’m so glad he did. Someone always was able to give me a status of what was going on. Your team made my wife and I realize we were dealing with a truly professional firm and at the same time, sympathetic to our needs. Great job. Excellent Customer Service.

GREG M.

    I want to thank you for all the help and support that was given to my parents by you and your colleagues. Your firm’s time, effort and dedication, is without question second to none and this led to a successful settlement

PAT R.

    We can’t thank you enough for the wonderful representation you provided and for believing in our case. It was very vindicating to have a judge and jury decide in our favor.

JANE AND TOM D.

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