Why Would My Lawyer Say We May Sue My Auto Insurer After We Finish Suing The Other Driver’s?

by Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC on August 29, 2011

in NY Insurance Issues

New York State Law requires all Buffalo car owners to carry what is known as Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage.  The purpose of this insurance is to provide additional insurance coverage when the owner of the car responsible for a personal injury accident did not carry any insurance or did not carry enough.

When the owner of the vehicle driven by the injured plaintiff carries more SUM insurance than the defendant who caused the accident, the plaintiff may be able to make a claim against that SUM insurance in some cases.  Such a claim, however, usually cannot be pursued until the initial personal injury lawsuit is completed.  This is because the SUM insurance cannot kick in until the amount available from the defendant’s insurance is exhausted.

If the injured party obtains the full amount of the defendant’s insurance, he or she may seek additional compensation from the SUM carrier up to the difference between the two insurances.  For example, a defendant carried $25,000 in insurance and the available SUM insurance was $100,000.  If the plaintiff obtained the full $25,000 from the defendant’s insurance, he or she may then make a claim against the SUM insurance and obtain up to an additional $75,000 from that insurer.

The SUM insurer, however, is not required to automatically turn over this money just because the defendant paid.  As a result, a separate lawsuit may need to be initiated against the SUM insurance carrier after the first case is completed.

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