What happens when your case is worth more than the responsible party’s insurance coverage?
I often run into cases where someone was seriously injured in a bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, car accident, Uber accident or pedestrian accident, but the party who is responsible for the injury carries low liability insurance coverage. As I have discussed at length in my other blog posts, California has a minimum insurance limit for automobile liability policies of only $15,000.
What this means, is that over one-third of all California drivers carry this minimum insurance limits, or carry no insurance at all. So, when one of my clients is injured by somebody carrying this minimum insurance limit (or other low limits policy like $25,000 or $50,000), we have to look to other sources to compensate them for their medical expenses loss of earnings and their pain and suffering damages all resulting from the accident caused by this other party.
Other potential sources of recovery could include other liability insurance policies held by the responsible party, such as business insurance, homeowner’s insurance or umbrella coverage. However, homeowner’s insurance policies typically have specific exclusions for traffic collisions. Another potential source of recovery is from auto liability insurance policies held by other members of the responsible party’s household. Usually an auto liability insurance policy covers any member of your household, because it is reasonable to expect that other people in your household may drive your car from time to time.
Another potential source of recovery is the responsible party’s employer. If the responsible party was within the course and scope of his or her duties as an employee four their employer, they may be covered by their employer’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, an employee who is driving to work or from work may not be covered by his or her employer’s policy. So, you always want to do a thorough investigation as to what the responsible party was doing at the time of the accident. You want to ask the question, “was here she driving for personal reasons, or for some capacity as part of her employment?”
Of course I always investigate my client’s own insurance coverages like health insurance, auto insurance policies with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, umbrella policies, etc. Although it is preferable to have your damages covered by the responsible party, if they don’t have enough insurance coverage, you want to make sure that YOU do.
A last resort source of recovery is the responsible party’s personal assets. Most people don’t like that idea of going after another individual’s personal property money and assets including me. However, there are certain instances when this route is appropriate. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I discuss in detail the process of going after personal assets to pay for the damages you incur in a personal injury case.