If you got hurt in an accident caused by someone else, you probably have a lot of questions. Can you sue? Should you sue? Should you try to settle the case out of court? How much is your case worth? Can you recover more than the insurance company’s policy limits? Unfortunately, it’s hard for any attorney to answer these questions with certainty unless he or she knows the specifics of your case. That’s because no two cases are exactly alike.However, we can speak in generalities. So let’s tackle the last question with that in mind.
What are policy limits?
It goes without saying that there are different types of insurance, each carrying its own set of terms and conditions. For the purposes of this article, it’s easiest – and most logical – to frame the discussion in terms of car insurance.
Put in the most basic terms, a policy limit is the most the insurance company must pay, no matter how badly someone is hurt in an accident. More often than not, policy limits are expressed using two numbers. In California, these numbers represent the most the insurance company will pay for death or “bodily injury” of one person, and the total amount it will pay for all of the people hurt or killed in one accident.
How much bodily injury liability coverage do most California drivers have?
Legally, anyone who drives or owns a vehicle in California must show proof of financial responsibility. Most people fulfill this requirement by getting car insurance with bodily injury liability coverage.
California law also mandates that minimal bodily injury liability coverage pays up to $15,000 for the death or bodily injury of one person, or $30,000 total for the death or injury of everyone hurt or killed in the accident.
Fortunately, most people have car insurance with higher policy limits for bodily injury liability coverage. For example, with standard coverage, the policy limits for this type of coverage are $100,000/$300,000. That means the insurance company will pay up to $100,000 for the death or bodily injury of one person in a motor vehicle accident, or up to $300,000 total for the death or injury of everyone involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Ways to recover damages exceeding the policy limit
The legal term for the financial losses you incurred as the result of a personal injury accident is damages.
As we recently discussed in another article, there are several ways to recover damages through your own car insurance if the driver at fault was uninsured or underinsured. Because we discussed that in some detail, we won’t belabor the point here.
Instead we’ll review your options if your damages exceed the policy limits. Basically, you may be able to do so if:
- “Joint and several liability” or “vicarious liability” applies. This happens when more than one person and/or entity is legally responsible for the accident in which you were hurt.
- The person or entity legally responsible for the accident in which you were hurt has an “umbrella” policy providing more coverage.
- You sue the person or entity legally responsible for the accident in which you were hurt directly for compensation exceeding the insurance policy limit.
Consult a Los Angeles insurance policy limit lawyer about your case now
Clearly, there are numerous circumstances in which your damages may exceed the insurance policy limits. While we focused our discussion on car accidents to simplify matters here, this may also happen after a slip and fall accident or similar personal injury accident.
The insurance policy limit lawyers here at LawPLA can quickly and easily determine the best course of action given your specific situation. But to do that, we need to meet with you to learn about your case. You can start the process by using the contact form on our website to schedule a free consultation. If you prefer, you can also call our office to arrange an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon.