Auto Accident Settlements Exceeding Insurance Policy Limits

Under the law, accident victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries. But before you can sue a negligent driver for damages, you should understand that insurance companies rarely pay more than the defendant’s insurance policy limits. However, experienced Los Angeles auto accident lawyers know how you may collect additional compensation for your injuries.

Insurance Policy Liability Limits Restrict Compensation

Every state has laws that govern minimum automobile liability coverage. California law requires that automobile drivers carry the following minimum liability limits:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability of $5,000
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident

Many drivers only carry the minimum required by law, and some don’t carry any insurance at all. How is that possible? Some California motor vehicle operators drive without a license or insurance. Some drivers live in states requiring no automobile liability insurance. Drivers who have little or no automobile liability insurance can be the financial downfall of serious accident victims.

Insurance companies are required to act in good faith and settle claims based on the facts. Liability insurance coverage is designed to cover claims, but insurance policies have monetary limits. In California, when a driver carries the minimum liability limits required by law, the insurance company will pay up to $30,000 in liability per accident and $5,000 in property damage. But there are exceptions that an auto accident attorney Los Angeles can help you obtain.

Collecting Excess Damages

After an automobile accident injury, the first thing you should consider is whether to hire a Los Angeles auto accident lawyer.  An experienced Los Angeles auto accident lawyer can gather evidence, assess accident details, and determine how much insurance coverage the responsible driver has. If the driver’s insurance is inadequate, the auto accident lawyer can research additional compensation sources, including the following:

  • Umbrella insurance coverage
  • Personal injury lawsuit against multiple defendants
  • Personal judgment against the responsible defendant
  • Bad faith judgment against the insurance company

Umbrella Liability Insurance Coverage

Automobile insurance policies have coverage limits, usually around $500,000 or less. Umbrella insurance picks up where the auto policies leave off.  Most companies that sell umbrella insurance offer it in increments of $1 million. People who insure their vehicles for the maximum amounts can supplement their liability coverage for millions of dollars more.

Auto accident lawyer Los Angeles California understands that umbrella policies help protect drivers’ personal assets after an accident and help compensate accident victims for their injuries.

Personal Injury lawsuit Against Multiple Defendants

Suppose more than one person is at fault for your injuries. In that case, you may be able to collect compensation under their liability insurance policy.

For instance, if hit by a commercial truck, you may be able to collect under the driver’s insurance, the trucking company’s insurance, and those who negligently worked on the vehicle, among others. Large companies tend to have extensive liability insurance coverage. That coverage can help compensate you for your injuries, related costs, and expenses.

Also, suppose two or more other vehicles were involved in the accident. In that case, you may be able to collect compensation from them as well.

Your Los Angeles auto accident lawyer can help sort through the facts and determine who is responsible.

Personal Judgment Against The Responsible Defendant

Suppose the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage does not entirely compensate you for your injuries. In that case, you can sue the driver personally. Does the driver have assets that can be sold or liquidated? Can you put a lien on their property or have their wages garnished? An auto accident lawyer Los Angeles California can help figure out if the driver has other assets.

Bad Faith Judgment Against The Insurance Company

Sometimes, insurance companies fail to act in good faith and refuse to compensate injury victims fairly. When a company does that, they act in bad faith and be held financially responsible for their actions. Suppose a case goes to court and a judge or jury finds that the company acted in bad faith. In that case, an injured person can collect damages above the policy limits. The company will have to pay the additional judgment amount.

Other common examples of bad faith include:

  • Failing to investigate the accident promptly
  • Failing to pay compensation promptly
  • Failing to promptly explain why they are denying a claim.

Bad faith lawsuits can be challenging to prove and generally require a Los Angeles auto accident lawyer’s expertise.

When Should You Contact an Auto Accident Attorney Los Angeles?

If injured in an accident, you should always call an auto accident lawyer Los Angeles California for free advice. An experienced lawyer will determine if you have a case, research who is responsible, and negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get you the compensation you deserve.

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