The Rogak Report: 02 September 2004 ** Auto Liability - Damages **
- EVEN THOUGH 100% LIABLE FOR AUTO ACCIDENT, DRIVER IS NOT LIABLE FOR
PLAINTIFF'S INCREASED AUTO INSURANCE PREMIUMS
Jacobs v. Herrera et al., NYLJ 9/02/04 (District Court, Nassau
County) (FAIRGRIEVE, j.)
Defendant Herrera experienced a blowout on a rear tire while driving
on the Southern State Parkway after dark. While replacing his tire,
a two-car accident occurred near his car. Defendant insisted that
his car was not involved in the accident. Plaintiff testified that
co-defendant Henriquez's vehicle was ahead of his own, and that
defendant Herrera pulled from the shoulder into the right lane with
no lights on, causing Henriquez to stop short and causing plaintiff
to hit the Henriquez vehicle (causing little or no damage).
Henriquez testified that Herrera pulled from the shoulder into the
right lane with no lights on. Henriquez managed to stop, but then
got tapped in the rear by plaintiff.
After the accident, plaintiff's auto insurer, GEICO, moved him into
the assigned risk program, and his annual premium went from $2,052 to
$3,681 for the same 300/500 coverage. He brought this suit to
recover the increased premium from Herrera.
The Court held that "a party's liability in tort cases are limited to
reasonable and probable consequences of non-willful, non-intentional
or non-malicious acts. But except in cases of willful, intentional
or malicious acts, the damages for which a party is liable in tort
are limited to such consequences of his act as may properly be said
to be the reasonable and probable consequences" (quoting New York
Jurisprudence, section 116).
Thus, "even though the defendant Herrera is liable for causing the
accident, defendant cannot be held liable for the plaintiff's alleged
increased insurance premiums. To permit such a recovery in
negligence actions is too remote and speculative, and not within the
ambit of damages collectible."