Understanding MVAIC Claims

In 1958, the New York legislature created the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation ( MVAIC) in order to ensure certain accident victims received financial compensation. MVAIC is financed and run by representatives of private insurance companies and provides benefits to victims who lack another form of automobile insurance.

In order to qualify for MVAIC benefits, you must be the victim of a motor vehicle accident that took place within the State of New York. Generally, you must also be a legal resident of New York. With respect to the accident, you must have no other automobile insurance coverage available. This means that if you get into an accident while driving your own car, you must file a claim with your insurer, not MVAIC. MVAIC benefits are only available if you (or your spouse) do not own the vehicle that was in the accident.

Similarly, if the vehicle responsible for the accident is known to you and insured in compliance with New York law, you must seek compensation from the owner or operator of said vehicle. MVAIC is intended to cover things such as “hit and run” accidents where the other driver is unknown to the victim. MVAIC may also cover accidents caused by vehicles where the owner failed to obtain insurance, vehicles registered outside of New York, vehicles stolen or used without the owner's permission, unregistered vehicles, and insured vehicles where the insurer denied coverage for some reason.

By law, MVAIC claims are capped at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. In cases where the accident results in wrongful death, the caps are $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.

Filing a Timely Claim

If you are involved in a hit-and-run or other accident where you may be eligible for MVAIC benefits, it is important to file a timely claim. There are strict reporting requirements to which you must adhere. MVAIC will deny claims if they are not followed.

Here is a recent example from an ongoing case before Queens Supreme Court. The victim in this case was riding his scooter when he was struck by an unknown vehicle in a hit-and-run. The victim said he suffered “serious injuries,” and filed an action against MVAIC. Queens Supreme Court then needed to determine whether the victim was a “qualified person” under MVAIC's enabling legislation.

Supreme Court allowed the victim's case to proceed, and the Appellate Division, Second Department, concurred in an opinion dated September 17th of this year. The Appellate Division said that, while the victim pleaded sufficient facts to establish his eligibility, there were still issues for Queens Supreme Court to resolve in an evidentiary hearing. For example, MVAIC argued the victim did not report his accident to the police within 24 hours and did not service notice of a claim on MVAIC within 90 days of the accident—both of which are required by New York law. MVAIC also disputes whether the victim is a resident of New York without automobile insurance.

If you find yourself the victim of a hit and run or similar type of accident, it is important you comply with any and all requirements to receive proper compensation. A qualified New York car accident attorney can help you avoid regulatory pitfalls. Contact our office today if you have any questions.