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Shannon L. Malone Esq.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.
Vehicle maintenance and safety Inspection

Kicking off a summer road trip? Remember, it all starts before you hit the gas. Ensuring your vehicle is in peak condition isn’t just smart; it’s the law. From tire pressure to oil levels, brakes to lights, and that ever-essential air conditioning system—every detail matters. States have their own safety requirements and ignoring them can lead to fines. So, whether you’re leaving from Setauket, NY, or anywhere else, make sure your vehicle meets the legal standards to keep your trip running smoothly.

Emergency kit essentials

Emergencies are the uninvited guests of road trips. A well-stocked emergency kit isn’t just good planning; it’s also about staying legal. Your kit should include basics like a first-aid kit, flashlight, spare tire, and jumper cables. But don’t stop there—some places require reflective triangles, fire extinguishers, and even blankets. Knowing what’s legally required where you’re headed can keep you safe and compliant.

Interstate driving regulations

Think traffic laws are the same everywhere? Think again. Each state has its quirks—different speed limits, seat belt rules, and cell phone use regulations. What’s allowed in one state might get you a ticket in the next. To avoid surprises, arm yourself with the knowledge of the rules of every state you’ll pass through. This isn’t just about power; it’s about taking control of your journey and ensuring a hassle-free trip.

DUI prevention and legal consequences

Driving under the influence: a surefire way to ruin your road trip. While blood alcohol content (BAC) limits vary slightly from state to state, the zero-tolerance message is clear. DUI penalties can be severe, from hefty fines to jail time, and can haunt you long after the trip ends. 

In New York, the legal threshold is .08% alcohol content in your blood, and it is the same in most states. The blood alcohol content is the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream, measured by blowing into a breath machine or by blood taken by the police. 

However, at Glynn Mercep and Purcell LLP, we emphasize the importance of planning with sobriety in mind. It’s not just about staying out of legal trouble; it’s about keeping everyone safe.

It is crucial to bear in mind that while the recreational use of marijuana is permitted in New York, the legality of marijuana may vary in the states through which you travel en route to your destination or in the state of your ultimate visitation. Engaging in the possession or use of marijuana in non-compliant states could result in the need to retain an out-of-state lawyer and potentially necessitate your presence for subsequent court proceedings, which may entail multiple appearances.

Safe and legal rest stop usage

Rest stops are essential for a comfortable journey, but they come with their own set of rules. Stick to parking regulations to avoid fines and protect your vehicle from theft. Pay attention to posted signs and local laws—some places limit how long you can stay. Respecting these rules ensures a safe, legal break before you hit the road again.

TIP: In some states, such as New Jersey, it is illegal to pump your own gas. A gas station attendant must assist you with refueling.

Driving in summer weather hazards

Summer road trips can bring weather surprises. From heatwaves to sudden storms, staying safe means knowing the legal requirements for your vehicle in different conditions. Some states require headlights in rain or specific tires for wet roads. Prepping your car for weather hazards keeps you safe and on the right side of the law. If you are not sure of a particular state’s rules in this regard, and you don’t have running lights, you should keep your headlights on all of the time.

Environmental protection and legal compliance

On your road trip, don’t just enjoy the scenery—protect it. Littering can lead to hefty fines and harm the environment. Many areas have strict environmental laws to follow. Respecting these rules preserves natural beauty and keeps you from legal trouble, especially in those states where such regulations are actually enforced.

As you plan your summer road trip, remember that preparation is key. We know the importance of safe, legal travel at Glynn Mercep and Purcell LLP in Setauket. If you need guidance or legal help, our experienced team is here to assist. Make your trip memorable for all the right reasons. 

Safe travels!

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone Esq.

Earlier in our series with respect to traffic infractions, we discussed proposed legislation that would increase the number of points associated with dangerous driving. These provisions would add point penalties to violations that presently have none. In this article, we will explore the existing Driver Violation Point System and provide readers with a quick reference guide illustrating the number of points associated with speeding violations in New York State. Understanding this system will empower you to make informed decisions about your driving habits and potential consequences. 

It is crucial to remember that if you accumulate 11 points on your driver’s license within 18 months, your driver’s license will be suspended. This is a significant consequence that can obviously disrupt your daily life. Exceptions to this point are rare. Nonetheless, you should consult an experienced attorney if you find yourself in this situation. Additionally, you must pay a Driver Responsibility fee if you accumulate six or more points on your driving record within 18 months.

Once 18 months have passed from the violation date, the points for that violation no longer count toward your total. However, the points do remain on your overall driving record, and your insurance company may use these points to increase your premium.

How Your Point Total is Calculated

Points are added to your driving record based on the date of the traffic violation, not the conviction. The point total is calculated by adding the points for violations occurring within the last 18 months.

Out-of-State Convictions

Suppose you are convicted of a traffic violation in another state, like Connecticut, New Jersey, or Florida. In that case, points are not added to your New York State driving record. Interestingly, however, if the violation occurred in Canada, specifically in Ontario or Quebec points are added because New York State has a reciprocal agreement with these provinces.

Insurance Premiums

Insurance companies have their own point systems and can increase premiums based on your driving records. Insurance companies almost invariably increase your premium if you are convicted of a moving violation such as speeding. Other moving violations that may affect your insurance premium are passing a stop sign, running a red light, and failing to yield the right of way.  For these reasons, it is always a good idea to consult a lawyer when you receive a summons for a moving violation, particularly a speeding ticket.

Check Your Points

New York State DMV’s “MyDMV” service allows users to check their points on their New York State driver’s license. Taking a DMV-approved Point and Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP) course (usually online) will help prevent you from losing your license if you accrue 11 or more points on your driving record. Four points are ‘subtracted’ to calculate a suspension if you have 11 or more points. The tickets/points do not physically come off your driving record, but this system can potentially save you 10 percent on your automobile liability and collision insurance premiums. This offers a glimmer of hope and control in managing your points and insurance premiums.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone Esq.

New York State has fortified its “move over” law to extend protection to all road users, aligning with a nationwide trend. Effective immediately, this revision aims to safeguard motorists stranded on highways, echoing similar measures adopted by several states. 

Previously, signs have warned motorists on many New York State roadways that they must pull over as far over to the left as possible when an emergency vehicle is on the shoulder of a highway. 

Under Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership, this legislative update emphasizes the paramount importance of road safety. State Senator Lea Webb spearheaded the bill, emphasizing its critical role in preventing tragedies involving stranded motorists.

The revised law mandates all vehicles on highway shoulders to be treated with equal caution, whether law enforcement, emergency responders, or stranded motorists. It’s a proactive step to ensure everyone’s safety.

Since 2012, New York has applied move over protections to cover emergency vehicles, hazard vehicles, and vehicles displaying a blue or green light. The rule requires drivers to exercise due care and change lanes when approaching the affected vehicles.

Sen. Lea Webb, D-Binghamton, wrote in a bill memo that while existing law has been effective in protecting law enforcement and emergency vehicles that are stopped on the side of roadways, “there are still tragedies each year involving other motorists that are killed or seriously injured while stopped on the shoulder to attend to an emergency.”

Gov. Hochul’s office said other vehicles stopped on the sides of highways have remained a safety hazard. From 2016 to 2020, 37 individuals lost their lives outside disabled cars in New York.

Hochul said the signing of the law is a significant step forward in reducing traffic-related accidents and ensuring the well-being of all New Yorkers.

“I want to thank Gov. Hochul for signing this legislation, which will extend safety protections to any motor vehicle that is parked, stopped, or standing on the shoulder of a parkway or controlled-access highway, increasing safety and saving the lives of New Yorkers,” Webb said in prepared remarks. “This bill will decrease the numbers of fatalities and serious injuries that occur due to crashes involving a stopped or disabled vehicle on our roadways.”

The new law took effect this month.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Many of our clients have been inquiring about how traffic summons is being handled in Suffolk County, in particular, speeding tickets; the answers to these questions, depending on where in the county the ticket was received, tickets being prosecuted in the village in town, courts across Long Island may not be handled in the same way as those received elsewhere.

How is a speeding ticket handled if received in one of the five western towns of Suffolk County, Long Island?

For example, suppose you receive a ticket for speeding in the five western towns, Huntington, Smithtown Babylon Islip in Brookhaven, and not in an incorporated village, such as Head of the Harbor, Port Jefferson, Nissequogue, Islandia, and others. In that case, your case will be prosecuted in the central traffic court on Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge in the H Lee Dennison building. The Suffolk County traffic and parking violations agency works in many ways, like the Department of Motor Vehicles.

How is the speeding ticket handled if received in an incorporated village or one of the eastern towns on Long Island?

Suppose you receive a speeding ticket in an incorporated village or one of the towns on the east end of Suffolk County, such as Riverhead, Southampton, East Hampton, or Southold. Your case will be prosecuted in the local court in that village or town. 

Each of these courts has its own rules concerning personal appearances; however, since the district attorney’s office in Suffolk County prosecutes speeding tickets and other moving violations, the same rules governing what dispositions of your ticket are possible in the traffic court in Hauppauge might not prevail. Specific plea-bargaining guidelines bind the prosecutors in the traffic court, while the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office has its flexible guidelines.

Take-Away

It is important that your attorney is fully aware of the different prosecutorial guidelines that are in place in the particular court where your speeding ticket is pending. Many law-abiding individuals tend to plead guilty instinctively, especially if it’s their first ticket. However, pleading guilty can result in a heavy fine, a possible increase in your car insurance rates, and as many as 6 to 11 points on your driving license. 

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Over the course of the year, we at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP., have sought to inform our neighbors in the community of important automobile insurance topics through our Auto Insurance Forum column. To summarize the many insurance issues discussed in our articles and to help the reader understand some key takeaways, we suggest keeping the information below in a safe place so that you may reference it in the future. 

Insurance Policy Minimums under New York State Law: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in Bodily Injury coverage; $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage; $50,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage; $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage

The Importance of Adequate SUM Coverage: As discussed, SUM coverage is mandated in New York for the amount indicated above. Having adequate SUM coverage is vital to ensure fair compensation when injured by an under-insured driver as your own policy pays the gap between their liability and your claim.

Understanding the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC): In New York, “No Fault” insurance (Personal Injury Protection or PIP) covers accident-related costs, regardless of fault. Drivers need a minimum liability policy of $25,000. 

When hit by an uninsured driver or involved in a hit-and-run as a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist without your own insurance, the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC) steps in. MVAIC is a non-profit organization providing up to $50,000 in no-fault benefits for medical bills and $25,000 per person for injury compensation. 

It’s funded by insurance company levies, fees, investments, and recoveries. To qualify, the accident must be reported to the police within 24 hours, the accident must have occurred in New York, and no other insurance is available. You cannot own or be the spouse of the uninsured vehicle’s owner. For hit-and-runs, file a Notice of Intention within 90 days (180 days if the owner is identified). Complete an NF-2 form with accident and injury details, medical bills, and a Household Affidavit. Consult a lawyer for help navigating this process.

Understanding New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law: New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d) governs the criteria which allows you to make a claim or file a lawsuit when you are injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident. 

The section defines the criteria necessary to receive compensation (i.e., a serious injury) as: ”a personal injury which results in (1) death; (2) dismemberment; (3) significant disfigurement; (4) a fracture; (5) loss of a fetus; (6) permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; (7) permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; (8) significant limitation of use of a body function or system; (9) or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”

Remember Insurance Companies are in Business to Make Money: Insurance companies aim to minimize payouts to maximize profits. They investigate claims, including personal background and online presence. Communicate factually with insurance adjusters but avoid volunteering information. Many companies use actuarial software to calculate low initial settlement offers. Negotiate to increase your claim’s value by considering all medical expenses, additional accident-related costs, and long-term consequences of your injuries.

On behalf of Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP., we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Members of the community have been inquiring about how the courts have dealt with their calendars for personal injury cases caused mainly by motor vehicle accidents during more recent variants of COVID-19. Clients are naturally concerned about their health and the progress of their personal injury cases. 

Moreover, people who have gotten into various types of accidents while last year’s Omicron variant was raging wonder if they, or we, should be doing anything different. Finally, with the recent uptick in COVID-19 reported by the media, we are receiving additional inquiries of this nature over the summer. 

Just ‘how open’ were the courts before the Omicron variant became widespread?

Before the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus became prevalent, the courts in Suffolk County and throughout the state were beginning to “open up” and conduct “in person” appearances for conferences and other matters. 

Trials started when these appearances became more commonplace and seemingly conducted without danger to the court personnel, litigants, and lawyers. First, the court scheduled criminal trials in cases with incarcerated defendants, and then serious felony trials began in the fall of 2021. 

Next, the court started trying civil cases as a backlog of personal injury accident trials had developed. The judges throughout the state were encouraged to reduce the backlog, as it is well known that personal injury cases arising out of car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and medical malpractice usually settle only when a trial is about to begin. Therefore, the need to schedule trials became essential. 

What happened to trials that were scheduled before the Omicron variant became widespread? 

Just as civil trials for personal injury cases were beginning to be held with little or no noticeable spread of the virus, by the end of 2021, the Omicron variant hit New York State and most of the country. 

Several personal injury trials had been completed by jury verdict or settlement in Suffolk County; however, as 2022 began, the Omicron variant caused a pause in starting most civil personal injury trials. While a few such cases proceeded to trial while Omicron was spreading, the cases that involved several parties, such as multi-car accident matters, were postponed until the variant subsided.

What is the status of personal injury cases as of the Summer of 2023? 

Despite the emergence of the apparent new strain of COVID-19, the entire country clearly is enduring its spread. Whether it is a result of the vaccines, people developing immunity, or the availability of medications, most cases seem to be relatively mild. As a result, the courts are operating as they were in 2019, and trials are proceeding in virtually all personal injury cases. 

Needless to say, if you have a case pending or were involved in an accident that caused personal injury, be sure to keep in touch with your lawyer or consult with an attorney if you haven’t done so already, as no one can predict how new variants of the virus will evolve. 

According to epidemiologist Nathan Grubaugh of Yale University, “Delta was never going to be the last variant—and Omicron is not going to be the last one, as long as there is a COVID-19 outbreak somewhere in the world, there is going to be something new that emerges.” 

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

In this column, we have previously discussed several issues concerning, and resulting from, automobile accidents. This included No-Fault Insurance, Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist coverage, the amount of insurance you should purchase to protect yourself, and the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). Yet, the question occurring to most accident victims is, how do I seek compensation for my own injuries when I was not at fault for the accident?

Under what circumstances can you make such a claim?

New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law governs the criteria which enables you to make a claim or bring a lawsuit. We explained previously that this law has provisions covering the payment of medical bills and other expenses. However, this law, specifically § 5102(d) of the New York State Insurance Law, affords you the right to make a claim when you are injured. This section defines and outlines the criteria necessary to receive compensation (i.e., a serious injury):

— a personal injury which results in (1) death; (2) dismemberment; (3) significant disfigurement; (4) a fracture; (5) loss of a fetus; (6) permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; (7) permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; (8) significant limitation of use of a body function or system; (9) or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

What does this definition mean, and how does it affect my ability to bring a claim or lawsuit? If, for example, you sustained a fractured bone, the permanent loss of the use of a body part or organ, or if you meet any of the other provisions outlined above, you have met what is commonly called the “No-Fault Threshold,” enabling you to obtain compensation.

In order to start the process of making such a claim, you must contact the insurance company for the vehicle that caused the accident. The primary insurance company is that of the at-fault driver. You can identify this company from a three-digit code contained in the police report prepared by the officer responding to the scene of the collision.

Please note that if you are physically able to, calling the police at the scene of the accident is extremely important. Notifying the police later on, as soon as you can, is crucial. When you contact the responsible insurance company or that company’s representative contacts you, you will be provided with a claim number to use for all future communications. 

Now you are ready to make a formal claim! In speaking to the responsible insurance carrier, describe your injuries in detail but do not explain how the accident occurred. Remember, whatever you say can be used against you later on if you say too much. Put most simply, you need to advocate for yourself by documenting your injuries and their necessary treatment but be careful what you say at all times. At this point, the monetary “value” of your claim becomes the principal focus and issue. If you have not retained the services of a lawyer at this point, it is strongly urged that you do so.

In our next column, we will endeavor to explain how a claim is evaluated so that decisions can be made as to whether to accept any offers the insurance company may make as a result. 

We, in closing, highly recommend that you precisely document your injuries and follow up with an experienced adjuster, advocate, or attorney to assist you in going forward with your claim.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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What all cyclists should know

By Shannon Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

If you have read our previous articles, you know New York is a “No Fault” state requiring all vehicle owners to have Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP). PIP provides coverage for costs sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident, such as medical bills, medications, transportation costs, and other expenses, regardless of who is “at fault” or who caused the accident. The law also provides that all owners of motor vehicles keep a minimum liability insurance policy of $25,000 to cover injuries to other drivers caused by their negligence.

But what happens when a driver with no insurance causes an accident or you are hit by a driver who leaves the scene before being identified? What happens if you are a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist and do not carry your own automobile insurance policy? 

Fortunately, the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation, or MVAIC, provides New Yorkers with an alternative way to be compensated. Article 52 of the New York State Insurance Law established the MVAIC to cover No-Fault and injury claims when no other auto liability insurance is available.  It was established in 1958 by the New York State Legislature in enacting Article 17-A (now Article 52) of the New York Insurance Law.  MVAIC operates as a non-profit organization and provides no-fault benefits of up to $50,000.00 to cover your own medical bills and provides up to $25,000.00 per person as compensation for anyone injured in a crash. 

The MVAIC is funded through levies on insurance companies providing automobile liability insurance in the State of New York in accordance with Section 5207 of the Insurance Law. Other sources of funds include fees collected from self-insurers by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles under Sections 316 and 370-4 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, investment income, and subrogation recoveries.

There are distinct requirements to qualify for MVAIC Benefits. (1) You must report the accident to the police within 24 hours; (2) there mustn’t be any other car insurance available to cover the loss; (3) the accident must have taken place in New York. (4) Additionally, you cannot own the uninsured car or be the spouse of the uninsured vehicle’s owner. 

For hit-and-run accidents, you must file a Notice of Intention with the MVAIC to file a claim within 90 days of the accident. If the uninsured vehicle’s owner was identified, you must file this notice within 180 days of the accident. Next, you must file an Application for Motor Vehicle No-Fault Benefits or an “NF-2” form which requires a description of the accident and your injuries, the names and addresses of the doctors who treated you, and the treating hospital. You will also need to submit an accounting of your medical bills resulting from the accident and those anticipated in the future. Finally, you must complete a Household Affidavit, which states where you lived and who lived with you at the time of the accident. 

When the MVAIC receives your application, it opens a case file and initiates an eligibility review. As part of the process, an MVAIC claims examiner may interview you, and the MVAIC will notify you whether your application is confirmed or denied.

It is crucial that all cyclists and pedestrians familiarize themselves with the application process and the deadlines detailed above after becoming involved in an accident with a vehicle that leaves the scene of the incident and consult with a lawyer to help process this little-known application.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Last month we explained in some detail what benefits New York automobile owners/drivers enjoy under its No-Fault Insurance Law. We also enumerated the instances where a motorist is not covered by the No-Fault Law. Today we explain how your No-Fault Insurance Application is processed by your insurance company and what rights you have under the New York No-Fault law.

The first crucial thing to remember is that you keep a copy of your No-Fault Application after you have filled it out, before you send it to your insurance carrier. If you have already consulted with or retained a lawyer, you should email your completed application to your attorney so he or she has the opportunity to make suggestions or approve the application.

After your application has been filed, you should receive a communication in writing from your insurance company acknowledging receipt. The insurance carrier should have already assigned what is known as a No-Fault claim number to your file, and the name and contact information of the representative who has been assigned your claim. 

If you do not receive such an acknowledgment within approximately 10 days of the date you filed your No-Fault Application, you should follow up by contacting the company. Anytime you speak to a representative, you should be sure to obtain their name and all their contact information.

What other obligations do I have in order to obtain or keep no-fault benefits?

Your automobile insurance policy requires you to cooperate with your insurance company at all times. This cooperation comes in several forms. Your claim representative may contact you with questions about the forms you have submitted. You must answer his or her questions, after you ascertain that they are actually a representative of your company. 

The insurance company representative often wants to ask you about your injuries and treatment, and you are obliged to respond. You should, however, be very careful in responding, as your insurance company has to the right to deny coverage for certain treatment it deems unnecessary.

Therefore, you should include all of the injuries you believe you have sustained and complained about to your physicians or other health care providers.

Your No-Fault Insurance representative will probably ask you exactly how the accident happened. Even though your own insurance company is obligated to pay your reasonable medical and out-of- pocket expenses regardless of fault, its representatives are permitted to ask about the accident. You should be careful describing the accident, as what you say may end up being discovered by the insurance company for the other driver and used against you.

Further, your insurance company is entitled to have you examined by a doctor of its own choosing after a certain period of time has elapsed. This is so it can have a doctor confirm your injuries and treatment plan. These doctors often recommend that the No-Fault carrier pay for a certain amount of visits to, for example, physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and specialties of various kinds. This examination is known as an IME (independent medical examination), but we contend that there is nothing independent about it. The doctor who examines you gets paid by your insurance company to render an opinion, so he or she may have a bias against recommending further treatment, or any treatment at all. Nonetheless, you must cooperate by submitting to these exams. 

Your lawyer can often intervene to set the time and place of these examinations so they are convenient for you and may attend if it is warranted.

What can I do if the No-Fault carrier denies coverage for, or limits, my treatment? 

There are several remedies you and your lawyer have in that situation. These will be discussed in our next article concerning No-Fault Insurance.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.

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By Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq.

While it is mandatory in New York State for all motor vehicle owners to have liability insurance to cover damages from automobile accidents, a surprising number of owners do not have such coverage. This is in spite of the fact that it is a violation of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law to drive any motor vehicle in our state without insurance.

So what can you do when you suffer serious injuries as a result of an automobile accident caused by an uninsured motorist? The first thing to do is protect yourself before the accident even happens by including adequate Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage in your own automobile insurance policy. How does this help? When it is determined that the motorist who caused your accident has no insurance, you may make a claim with your own insurance company under the UM coverage provision in your own insurance policy. This coverage is also mandatory in New York State.

To be clear, UM coverage protects you if the driver who caused the accident and resultant injuries is uninsured. Like SUM coverage (Supplemental Uninsured Motorist), you have the option of purchasing almost any amount of coverage you desire to be included in your insurance policy. 

While the minimum required UM coverage in New York State is $25,000.00 (the same minimum coverage required for both SUM and liability coverage), this amount may be totally insufficient to compensate you for any serious injuries you sustain. Thus, purchasing as much UM (and SUM) coverage as feasible is very important. Interestingly, the cost of such insurance protection is relatively modest. 

However, in this atmosphere when insurance companies are advertising lower rates than any rival can offer, it is important for you to make sure your agent or insurance company adequately protects you.

How does it work?

Let’s look at an example of how and why this coverage works and can protect you. Assume you are badly injured in an automobile accident caused by an uninsured owner/driver. This injury may result in a severe condition or even partial or permanent disability. If you have only $25,000.00 in UM insurance, that is all you can recover from insurance for your injuries. It follows that if you have $50,000.00, $100,000.00 or whatever amount in coverage, that it is the total amount you can recover from insurance. 

While you do have the right to obtain a judgment after trial against the actual owner and/or driver of the uninsured vehicle, that could take years and the uninsured driver and/or owner is usually judgment proof (or they would have made sure they obtained liability insurance).

Thus, just as in SUM coverage which protects against underinsured vehicles, the higher the amount of uninsured motorist coverage you have under your own automobile insurance policy, the more protected you are if injured by an uninsured vehicle. We have seen too many clients who were seriously injured by an uninsured driver, but were unable to be fully compensated for those injuries due to insufficient UM coverage. It is therefore very important to discuss the amount of such insurance you have with your broker or insurance carrier.

Shannon L. Malone, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Glynn Mercep Purcell and Morrison LLP in Setauket. She graduated from Touro Law, where she wrote and served as an editor of the Touro Law Review. Ms. Malone is a proud Stony Brook University alumna.