After experiencing a serious accident and suffering major injuries, you’ll try to physically heal while also trying to get help paying for your medical expenses. The responsible driver’s insurance company may be willing to offer compensation, but what happens when the car insurance policy limit is exhausted?
How Often Do Auto Accident Settlement Values Exceed the Policy Limits?
The at-fault driver’s insurance policy will unfortunately have a limit on what it will provide. Hitting that limit while you still have outstanding bills will send you scrambling to find other sources of help. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you if you wind up in this predicament during recovery from an accident.
What Are Insurance Policy Limits?
Liability insurance has limits in place on how much accident victims can receive in a settlement or as an award. The limit or cap describes the maximum dollar amount the insurance company will provide the victim.
The car insurance policy a driver purchases carries a limit on losses arising from injuries that the driver causes. Whatever the limit is represents the most the insurance provider will pay to the victim for his or her bodily injury claim.
Currently, the minimum car insurance coverage required in California is as follows:
- $15,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident.
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person.
- $5,000 for property damage.
Bodily and Property Damage Liability
Your Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) and your Property Damage Liability are two different funds. Perhaps you receive the full BIL compensation available from the driver’s insurance policy. However, even if the property damage limit was not reached, you are not allowed to use that money for injury compensation.
How Could My Car Accident Settlement Value Exceed Policy Limits?
Although the at-fault party’s bodily injury liability policy limits may be enough to fairly compensate you, that is often not the case.
Some injuries require many months or years of extensive medical treatment including physical therapy, diagnostic studies, injections, and surgery. A physical disability caused by a crash can also require much more in financial support and may result in a lifetime of medical care and other damages.
A high percentage of California drivers travel with the minimum in insurance coverage. In an accident that involves a severe injury, the limits of that coverage can easily be reached in just the first week or two of treatment. This leaves a lot of victims to depend on their own car insurance policy’s underinsured motorist coverage.
What to Do When Your Damages Go Beyond Insurance Policy Limits?
Once you’ve exhausted the at-fault driver’s policy limit, you have several options at your disposal to find compensation to cover the rest of your damages.
The first step is to consult a personal injury lawyer if you don’t already have one. The potential of other parties being called upon to help pay for your recovery will complicate your case, making it more challenging to handle without legal support. This is especially true if your case doesn’t settle and you are required to take the responsible parties to court.
Here are just a few of the options for suing beyond policy limits your lawyer will help you consider:
Suing Other Drivers
You may have hit the cap on what an at-fault driver’s insurance policy provides. There may be other drivers involved in your accident that share in the liability. The compensation you need can get divided between the insurance coverage of every driver who bears responsibility for your injury.
Suing Companies and Corporations Involved
In cases that involve a business like a rideshare or a trucking company, your case may involve two or more insurance providers. You may first have to file a claim with the driver’s personal car insurance company. If you reach the limit on that coverage or are denied outright, you can then file a claim with the company they work for. Corporations like Lyft and Uber or a national trucking company may have large liability limits, excess, or umbrella policies that cover victims in certain situations.
Suing Insurance Companies
When insurance providers are caught acting in bad faith in refusing to tender their insured’s policy limits, they could face serious consequences in the form of a subsequent bad faith lawsuit.
A lawsuit can force an insurance company to provide compensation well beyond the established limit of the policy.
Suing the At-Fault Driver
When a driver’s insurance cap has been reached, you may choose to sue the driver directly for compensation. The additional money would come out of the driver’s own pocket, provided he or she has savings or assets that can be targeted.
Insurance Limits and Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists
It’s a sad fact that many drivers in California don’t carry the level of liability insurance it would take to cover a serious accident. Additional coverage is easily available and doesn’t cost a whole lot more, but many never even consider purchasing the extra protection.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage will allow you to call upon your own car insurance policy for help if circumstances permit. If the at-fault driver has no liability insurance, you can generally utilize your uninsured motorist coverage if you have this coverage. If the at-fault driver’s liability insurance limits are exhausted and you have higher underinsured limits, you can seek additional damages to be paid by your insurance company.
An attorney can represent you with your uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury claim to make sure you’re treated fairly.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
The guidance you get from an experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney after an accident can make a big difference in the compensation you see for physical, emotional, and financial hardships. If an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover all of your damages, it’s time to explore the other options available to injury victims.
Contact Allen Vaysberg and the Law Offices of Steers & Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation to find out how they can help you.
Allen Vaysberg, Esq. manages the personal injury practice of the Law Offices of Steers & Associates. By thoroughly investigating your case Allen and his legal team can determine the best course of action after accident settlements exceed insurance policy limits.