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My vehicle was totaled by an uninsured driver. I didn't carry collision coverage so my insurance won't cover my damage.

Rochester, NY |

Am I correct in assuming that the only recourse I have is to go to small claims court? My vehicle was only worth $3900 but it was all I had.

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Attorney answers 8

Best Answer

Assuming all you have suffered is property damage (i.e., no physical injuries), small claims will be the most cost efficient way to try and recover against the other driver. Even if you get a judgment, however, given the fact that the driver failed to carry any insurance, there might be a question of your ability to ultimately recover.

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Yes file in small claims court for property damage


That would be the most practical response. I don't know of any lawyer that would handle the case for you so you are left with trying to deal with it on your own. You will probably settle with the insurance company in court.

Neal A. Goldstein

Neal A. Goldstein


I must apologize as I did not answer your question. Since the owner of the vehicle had no insurance you are in essence in the worst possible position. In my opinion a lawyer could do no better for you.


Small Claims is the way to go. Hopefully the other driver has assets to collect from. Check the Small Claims Court rules on how to prove value of the car.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


Small claims jurisdiction in town and village court in new york is limited to 3000.00. Bring your claim in any city court in your county, where the monetary jurisdictional amount is higher for small claims . Small claims courts are designed to allow you to proceed without a lawyer. The court clerk will have materials that will explain the process to you.


Yes, Small Claims would be the way to go. Although your own insurer is required to compensate you for serious injuries sustained as a result of negligence by an uninsured driver, unless you specifically paid for your uninsured clause to include coverage for property damage, it will only cover you for personal injuries, and then, only if they meet a statutorily definition of "serious injury". If you require any medical treatment as a result fo this accident, your insurance company's no fault policy will be required to pay for it.
It really sucks when this happens. You may want to consider adding this coverage to your policy to protect you if this ever happens again. Good Luck.


Unfortunately yes that is the best option for you without collision coverage.

Before going that route you should fully explore whether any insurance may be available covering either the driver of the vehicle or the owner. Often even where there is no insurance information presented at the scene of an accident coverage may still exist. The DMV may have coverage info if you have the plate number of the other vehicle. Also your insurance company can assist in finding out information regarding the other vehicle/driver.

If you have already gone down that route and came up with nothing you will be limited to small claims. Be aware, however, that even if you win on small claims you may have a difficult time actually recovering money from this uninsured driver/owner.

Good luck!

The aforementioned opinion does not constitute legal advice and is for general educational purposes only. See an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for competent legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed through the within legal question and answer session.


Speaking candidly, there is little likelihood you will recover, given the fact that the defendant was uninsured. With that said, you should speak with your own insurer to determine if your own SUM (Supplemental Uninsured Motorist) insurance affords you coverage. You could also attempt to go it alone by filing a claim with MVAIC (Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Insurance Corporation). Lastly, you should be able to get at least a minor tax benefit by including it as a casualty loss.

Alfred Laub

The underlying facts for each situation are unique. Any responses given are for informational purposes only and are not designed or intended as professional legal advice, since any suggestions may not apply to your specific circumstance. This information exchange does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Should you determine that you need immediate legal assistance or action , you should contact your local Bar Association for a referral to an attorney in your area.

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