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LegalGround >> NY auto property damage question


12/29/10 5:16 PM
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oldnslow
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Any advice from New York based, or New York knowledgeable lawyers is appreciated.

Back in November I was rear-ended (insert joke here) on the Williamsburg Bridge by a NYC Taxi. I was in stopped traffic at the time and the impact drove my car into the tractor-trailer in front of me. My car was totaled. I was not injured.

I did not have collision coverage but my car has a value of between $6-8k. Am going through the claims process with the taxi's insurance company and their most recent letter to me stated that the policy held by the taxi only has a $10k propety damage coverage. Since the combined damage to the taxi, my car and the truck is over $10k:

"Thus, no payments will be issued to any parties, but all claims have been noted and if coverage is found to exist payments will be issued on a pro rata share."

So how screwed am I? All I'm looking for is the value of my car. If the taxi owner, truck owner and I are all chopping $10k, I'm feeling like I'm not getting much at all. Small claims limit in NY is $5k, so I can't sue under small claims. Any other type of lawsuit will most likely involve attorney fees that will take a large chunk of that $6-8k, should I recover anything.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks.
12/30/10 10:57 AM
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TheDigitalRuler
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You should probably talk to a lawyer if you want a chance at getting fair compensation for the value of your car. If the insurance won't pay for it - and it sounds like they're not going to - you can probably file a claim against the taxi company.
1/1/11 3:07 AM
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KenTheWalrus
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Edited: 01/01/11 3:11 AM
Member Since: 3/12/07
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Check this out. http://www.ins.state.ny.us/auto/2010/auto1002.htm

(I'm not from New York)

You may be able to accept the settlement from the insurance company as it relates to them, then sue the driver for any remaining costs. If you can do this and they spread the $10,000 evenly you should come in right around the 5k small claims limit against the driver.

Also, since this was a company car you may be able to name the company in your suit for the remainder after the insurance payment.
1/6/11 12:25 AM
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Shaz
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 Insurance company won't settle if you're going after the driver - that's the point of the insurance.  When I did insurance defense, our whole goal was to protect the insured and make sure the final settlement or judgement after trial was no more than the policy limit.  The insurance company has a duty to defend their insured - if you sue the cab company it's the insurance company that gets the lawyer and defends.  Why settle with you and then let you sue the cabbie?  A settlement will end the case, you won't be able to sue anyone.  Or you could refuse to settle and sue them outright, but with no injury it's unlikely it will be worth anything to any lawyer.  So you're basically screwed.

To put it in perspective, I represented a driver who had killed three people when he made an illegal left turn.  His policy was 25K/50K, which doubles for death, so it was 50K/100K - meaning the max the three estates could get was 100,000 for all three to be divided.  One settled for 33K, the other two sued and got about $300K, but the driver was destitute and the max they could get was the other 67K from us.
1/6/11 9:35 AM
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Fake Pie
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Edited: 01/06/11 9:35 AM
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Yeah but at 10K they can just pay the policy limits out and wash their hands of it. They have no obligation to the insured above the limits.

Also, the property damage shouldn't cover the taxi itself, that is was collision is for. PD covers damage you cause to others, so you and the truck. Also, very hard to believe a company has a mere 10K limit. If true that claims exceed the 10K, they need to pay out the policy limit then you go after the company for the rest in small claims.

I used to work for a PI firm and we did PD claims sometimes as well as a courtesy to clients (no money in it for attorneys), but this was before I was a lawyer so not giving a professional opinion like Shaz.

Just keep on them until they pay everything out. It sounds like they have basically admitted they will be paying out the limits pro rata.
1/6/11 1:02 PM
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oldnslow
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Thank you for the info everyone.

So if I do not sue right now and the insurance company says my pro rata share is $4k, if I take it does that prevent me from going after the cab company in small claims court for the remaining $2-4k?

Fake Pie, I also thought a $10k property damage policy was really low for a cab company. While it's not going to help me get any more money, I am going to investigate with the NYC Taxi and Limo Commission to see if the company is out of compliance with their regulations. Who knows, maybe it will be a bargaining chip. Or at least if I can't get more money, I can get revenge.

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