By Paul G. Barden

In its most recent legislative session, the New York Legislature considered a bill requiring gun owners to purchase $250,000 of liability insurance.  While gun violence is an important concern for our state legislators, an even greater concern that all of us should share is the woefully inadequate liability requirement for auto insurance. The current liability limit required for New York drivers is only $25,000 - - one-tenth of the proposed limits for gun owners.  Sadly, this $25,000 auto liability limit has remained the same for more than 25 years, even though the Consumer Price Index has increased 100% in that 25-year span. 

Motor vehicle accidents injure New Yorkers in significantly higher numbers than guns. According to New York State DMV statistics, 160,497 people in 2014 were injured in motor vehicle accidents and another 1,026 were killed. That’s a total of 161,523 people injured or killed by automobiles in one year.  In that same year, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services reported 7,005 violent crimes committed with firearms in New York City, and 4,604 violent crimes committed with firearms in the rest of the state for a total of 11,609 crimes where people were injured or killed by firearms.  Only a very small percentage of those gun injuries involved the negligent theft or loss of the firearm that would be covered under the mandated gun liability insurance.

If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident due to the fault of another, $25,000 will not even begin to compensate you for the pain, suffering, economic damages and disabilities that you experience. The state legislature indirectly recognized the inadequacy of current auto liability limits in their recently approved legislation allowing ridesharing companies to expand into Upstate New York.  Drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft will be required to carry a minimum of $75,000 liability insurance as soon as they log onto their app’s digital network and begin searching for riders, and $1.25 million liability insurance as soon as they accept riders for hire, through the time they deliver the riders to their destination.

As a law firm that represents people seriously injured in automobile accidents, we encourage our state legislators to focus on helping the hundreds of thousands of victims of negligent driving by raising auto liability insurance minimums.  Until they do, there are other ways to protect yourself and your family against the millions of underinsured drivers on the road today:  Increase your own liability limits and your corresponding Supplemental Uninsured/Underinsured (“SUM”) liability limits. 

Please contact us if you have questions about this important component of your family’s insurance protection.

This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.

About MCCM

McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979.  With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.

We represent a diverse range of clients located throughout New York State and New England.  They include individuals, numerous manufacturing and service industry businesses, local governments, and health care professionals, provider groups, facilities and associations. We also serve as local counsel to out-of-state clients and their attorneys who have litigation pending in Western New York courts.  For more information, please contact us at 585.546.2500.