When you suffer serious injuries in a car accident in California, you may face extensive financial losses and expenses. The financial burdens placed on you can feel overwhelming, from hospital bills to rehabilitation and countless other responsibilities. A personal injury lawyer will work to pursue the best possible outcome and compensation for your claim.
However, many people are unaware that a negligent driver’s insurance company is not obligated to take full responsibility for the awarded damages. It is only obligated to pay up to the policy limit. Sometimes, your financial award is not able to cover all the expenses because of the policy limit. If you face this situation, there are ways still to recover more than the at-fault insurance policy limit.
How Do Insurance Policy Limits Work in California?
In California, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle without evidence of financial responsibility. It is essential to have some type of insurance that can cover medical expenses and other damage if an accident occurs. Most auto insurance policies have two types of insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury coverage
- Property damage coverage
Both types have separate limits depending on the driver’s coverage. For bodily injury, one type limits what the insurance company will pay for a single individual’s injuries, and the other limits what insurance will pay for all injuries sustained in a single accident by any number of claimants. Because the policy limits are separate, your claim usually won’t exceed the limit. Discussing your options with an experienced personal injury lawyer may boost your chances of recovering the necessary amount to cover your damages.
Can I Receive Compensation That Exceeds Insurance Policy Limits?
While motor vehicle accident settlements do not usually exceed the insurance company’s policy limits, there are times when the recovered financial damages are not enough to fully compensate for the harm caused. Discuss some of the below actions with a personal injury lawyer to find your best option:
Suing an At-Fault Driver
There is an option to sue the at-fault driver for the difference in the policy’s limits. However, not all parties will have enough financial assets to cover the remaining damage. This may make suing the party more trouble than it is worth.
Suing Multiple Defendants
If multiple people are responsible for the accident and the injuries you have suffered, you may hold them jointly accountable for the rest of the damages. The recovered compensation will be pulled from each insurance policy proportional to how responsible each party was for the accident.
Economic Damages Caused by an Uninsured Defendant
California’s Proposition 51 limited the liability of defendants for non-economic damages to their proportion of liability in causing the accident. However, one party can still be forced to pay a plaintiff’s full economic damages in claims in which the other defendants are unable to pay their shares. Thus, finding a solvent defendant that is even 1% at fault for an accident can result in a large recovery for substantial injuries caused by uninsured defendants.
When an insurance company unreasonably refuses to pay a policyholder’s claim or fails to investigate and process a claim within a reasonable time, this is referred to as participating in “bad faith.” If an insurance company can reasonably settle a provable claim and refuses to, they may be guilty of bad faith.
While these are mostly for commercial and corporate entities, an individual can also have an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy offers extra coverage above the primary amount. While the insurance limits were met, the policyholder’s umbrella coverage may cover additional amounts from your claim.
If your compensation claim exceeds the responsible party’s insurance coverage policy limits, it is even more imperative that you receive assistance from a personal injury lawyer. Each case is unique and presents challenges that can face complex processes. Talk with an experienced California personal injury attorney that will discuss what option is best suited for you.
Contact a Passionate California Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When you are facing severe injuries because of someone else’s negligence, the financial responsibilities can feel overwhelming and burdensome. Our Newport Beach personal injury attorneys at Younglove Law Group empathize and understand how stressful those situations are and want to make sure you receive the best possible compensation and outcome for your case. With over $40 million recovered for our past clients, our experience guiding clients through personal injury cases is extensive, and we work hard to advocate for your rights in legal proceedings.
Call (949) 691-3660 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.