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The Rogak Report: 02 September 2004 ** Auto Liability - Damages **

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  • Lawrence Rogak
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2004
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      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."
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