What Are Your Options When Your Losses Exceed Policy Payouts?
When you’re hurt in a motor vehicle accident, the first place you typically turn for compensation is auto insurance. Sometimes, though, the benefits available under a car insurance policy aren’t enough to cover all your losses. You may need costly medical care that isn’t covered or that exceeds policy limits. You may need to have your home or vehicle retrofitted to accommodate your injuries. Can you pursue compensation over and above policy limits? If so, how do you do that?
Auto Accident Damages Are Not Subject to Policy Limits
The short and simple answer is that you are never restricted to only the benefits included in a car insurance policy. There are a number of other ways to pursue additional compensation to cover all your losses.
Seek Compensation Directly from the Defendant
In a personal injury lawsuit, you always have the right to seek monetary damages from the person who caused the accident. As a practical matter, though, most people won’t have the liquid personal financial resources to pay for your losses. Furthermore, you can get a verdict and judgment, but enforcing and collecting on the judgment can be time-consuming and expensive.
Identify and Pursue Other Potentially-Responsible Parties
Many factors can combine to cause a car accident. You have the right to seek damages from anyone whose negligence or carelessness caused the accident that led to your injuries:
- Another driver who acted wrongfully – If you can show that another driver contributed to causing the accident by failing to act reasonably under the circumstances—for example, by speeding or running a ride light or stop sign—you can seek damages from them. If you can show that the accident wouldn’t have occurred if the driver had acted reasonably, you may be able to bring them in as a c0-defendant in a personal injury claim.
- Government entity, in the case of roadway defects – If a pothole, loose gravel, or other roadway problem caused the accident, you may be able to bring a claim against the agency or municipality responsible for maintaining the road.
- Designer or manufacturer of a product that caused the accident – You can bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or any party within the chain of distribution if the accident was caused by a bad tire, a poorly-designed steering mechanism, or some other product defect.
- A drunk driver – If the person who caused your accident was served alcohol while visibly intoxicated, or was served a sufficient quantity to lead to intoxication, you may be able to bring a so-called “dram shop” or social-host-liability claim against the person or establishment that served the alcohol.
Look to Another Insurance Policy
The at-fault party may have a second policy, known as an “umbrella” policy, that goes into effect only when the limits of their primary auto policy is reached. Unfortunately, very few people have an umbrella policy in place.
Another option, though, particularly in at-fault states and particularly in situations where there’s inadequate insurance, is to look to your own policy to see if you have purchased coverage for losses related to uninsured or underinsured motorists. Don’t expect your insurer to notify you that you have such coverage, though. You’ll be better served by having an attorney review your policy to determine the full scope of coverage.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we know that the losses incurred in a car accident can be extensive and may not be fully covered by insurance. For an appointment with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.