Craig Rosenbaum | February 25, 2022 | Car Accidents
New York requires all vehicle owners to carry auto insurance. Your minimum coverage must include personal injury protection (PIP), bodily injury liability (BIL), and property damage liability.
When you get into a car accident, PIP pays your reasonable and necessary medical bills under New York’s no-fault insurance system. But if you suffer a serious injury, your medical bills could easily exceed your PIP policy limits — and you may need to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s BIL coverage.
Here are some ways to find out whether someone has car insurance so you can file a claim against their BIL policy.
Duties After an Accident
After a car accident in New York that causes an injury or death, you must:
- Stop at the accident scene
- Identify yourself
- Report the accident to the police
If you fail to take these steps, prosecutors can charge you with a crime. A failure to stop can constitute a hit-and-run punishable by up to seven years in prison for fatal accidents.
When you stop at the scene of an accident, you should always exchange insurance information — even if nobody appears or feels injured. Car accident injuries can take time to appear. For example, a concussion or other brain injuries might not produce symptoms until several days after the accident.
3 Ways to Find Out Whether the Other Driver Has Car Insurance
Normally, the other driver will volunteer to exchange information with you. Under the New York statute requiring you to identify yourself after an accident, you must exhibit your driver’s license and insurance card. You can simply ask for the other driver’s insurance card. Under New York law, they must show it to you.
But sometimes, this simply does not happen. Here are three ways to get insurance information in after an accident in New York City:
1. Ask the Police to Help You
The New York hit-and-run statute requires the police to help drivers exchange information “in a reasonable and harmonious manner.” Tempers can run hot after a traffic accident in New York City. Knowing this, the New York legislature instructs police officers to act as intermediaries.
You can avoid conflict with the other driver by asking the NYPD officer investigating your accident to help you exchange insurance information.
Normally, the officer will simply take your insurance card to the other driver and retrieve their insurance card for you. This keeps the drivers separated while accomplishing the information exchange.
2. Get a Copy of the Accident Report
In New York, the investigating officer must file an accident report for all accidents involving:
- An injury
- A death
- A commercial motor vehicle
The form NYPD officers use for accident reports includes a field for each driver’s insurance information. The officers must complete your report within ten days after your accident. You can order a copy of your accident report from the NYPD or the New York DMV.
3. File a Record Request
The DMV allows you to request insurance information on other drivers after an accident.
To request someone else’s insurance records, you must know:
- The accident date
- The other driver’s vehicle year and make
- The vehicle registrant’s name
You must also have a copy of the police accident report or an accident report you filed with the DMV. When you file this information, the DMV will conduct a search.
If anything fails to match up, the DMV will reject your request. If everything matches up, the DMV will provide you with the insurance company’s name and the driver’s policy number or inform you that the vehicle was uninsured.
Using the Insurance Information
After you find out whether someone has car insurance in New York City, you and your lawyer can file a claim against their liability coverage. This should open the door to negotiating a settlement of the damages you suffered due to your injuries.
Contact a New York City personal injury lawyer for help determining whether another driver has insurance after an accident.