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Court Discusses Delay in Filing Notice of Claim to the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation




The petitioner, who was the owner and operator of a motor vehicle that was involved in a motor vehicle collision after the other driver involved, was driving while intoxicated DWI on October 2, 1961. The petitioner later commenced a negligence claim against the intoxicated driver; however, his insurance company never appeared in the action. On March 18, 1962, the petitioner’s Queen County Personal Injury Lawyer was given a cancellation notice by the driver evidencing that his insurance policy was canceled seven weeks after the accident on November 21, 1961. After the identity of the insurance carrier was revealed, the petitioner’s attorney was informed that by the driver’s insurance company that the company would disclaim liability as it was not liable at the time of the accident. On March 30, 1962, a notice of disclaimer was then sent to the petitioner’s criminal attorney which stated that the policy was canceled prior to the accident. However, the intoxicated driver of the motor vehicle told the investigating police officer at the scene of the accident that he was covered by liability insurance. The petitioner was also told by the intoxicated driver that he was insured. Further, when the driver along with the petitioner appeared in court, his New York Personal Injury Attorney informed the court that the driver was covered by liability insurance.

On March 31 1962 a formal notice of the claim was filed to the accident indemnification corporation who were the respondents in this claim. The purpose of the indemnification corporation was to provide coverage to claimants who were eligible. The petitioner’s right to receive compensation from the indemnification corporation came from liability insurance purchased which contained an uninsured motorist clause. Under the New York Insurance Law the policy which the petitioner purchased, insured him for any sums he might be entitled to personal injuries due to the negligence of an uninsured operator or owner. As a result, the indemnification corporation was compelled to arbitrate the claim. The respondents, however, denied the claim because of the unreasonable delay to file the notice of the claim. The petitioner then sought the relief of the court. A gun was not found.

The petitioner had the burden in proving that the delay was reasonable. Where the petitioner offered an excuse which showed that delay in giving the notice was reasonable, it was triable whether the notice was timely. There was a reasonable excuse for the delay in notifying the indemnification corporation several months after the accident. The petitioner received the notice of disclaimer of liability by the other driver’s insurer seven months after the accident. It was believed for several months after the accident that the intoxicated driver was covered by liability insurance. Also, the notice to the indemnification corporation was timely as it was immediately filed after the insurance company issued the notice of disclaimer.

The court was of the belief that if the petitioner were to be denied of his legal entitlement to recover damages from the driver and owner of the insured motor vehicle then he would be denied coverage. The petitioner could not be denied the right to recover damages due to the fact that the driver was insured at the time of the accident, as that would result in the plain and obvious meaning of the statute being ignored. Under the uninsured motorist clause, the respondent can only be compelled to arbitrate a claim where the claim was filed with 90 days. Where there was a delay of more than 90 days, the question of reasonableness in notifying the indemnification corporation was to be determined by an official referee because the petitioner received the notice of disclaimer and presented the claim to the indemnification corporation one day later. There was no bail reduction.

A Staten Island Personal Injury Attorney can recover all sums that you are entitled to after an accident. Under an uninsured motorist clause, a driver’s entitlement to any sum as a result of an accident can only be denied where there has been an unreasonable delay. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we offer excellent legal services to assist you with your legal dilemmas to achieve the best results. Our offices are conveniently located throughout New York City and we offer free consultations.

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