Consider the following: You get in a car accident on I-5. Thankfully, the responsible driver has car insurance. Often, after such an accident, you file a simple claim with the responsible party’s insurance provider, they pay out the claim, and that’s it.
Except that’s not what always happens. Maybe your accident was particularly bad—so bad that your injuries require a three-day hospital stay and emergency surgery. Now you are looking at months of follow-up visits and physical rehabilitation appointments.
You know that your surgery and hospital bills, alone, far exceed your insurance policy limits, so it is very plausible that they exceed the responsible party’s coverage limits. If a car accident claim exceeds policy coverage, what do you do? Can you still recover all your damages?
This Situation Is All Too Common
Despite minimum policy requirements, the aforementioned situation happens fairly frequently in California. As car accident attorneys, we often see car accident claims that exceed policy limits.
Luckily, if you find yourself in this situation, you may still be able to recover the entirety of your claim. The team at The Farzam Law Firm can help you.
What Are My Options If My Claim Exceeds Policy Limits?
If your car accident claim exceeds the responsible party’s policy limits, don’t lose hope. Even though it takes a little more effort than filing a simple insurance claim, the effort is worth it. You still have a few options to recover the entirety of your claim.
Lawsuit Against the Responsible Party
To recover accident claims that exceed policy limits, the first option that many people think of is suing the at-fault driver. In doing so, you can recover the excess damages that you suffered. You will still get your insurance claim up to the policy limit, but the at-fault driver will be responsible for the excess.
Hold Multiple Parties Accountable
Car accidents aren’t always between just two parties. Accidents can involve numerous vehicles, and each driver may bear a share of the responsibility. Thus, you can file a claim with each responsible parties’ insurance provider to recover your damages.
In some instances, someone other than the driver may share responsibility for the accident. For example, a trucking company that does not safely maintain its fleet of vehicles will be responsible for an accident caused by its vehicle due to its unsafe condition.
Furthermore, if you cannot recover your entire claim through multiple insurance providers, you can still file lawsuits against multiple parties.
Some parties have a specific insurance product to cover excess damages, known as an umbrella policy. Individuals can purchase umbrella policies, but they are more expensive than typical policies, so they are most often held by professional parties—for example, the owner of a fleet of work trucks. The umbrella policy will kick in when damages exceed the regular policy limits.
Bad Faith by the Insurance Provider
If an insurer to a responsible party fails to make a good faith effort to settle, the insurer may need to pay a jury award beyond the policy limits. Although you won’t be able to sue them directly, you may be able to recover more than you would if you had to try to collect an excess judgment from the at-fault party.
Is There a Cap on the Amount That I Can Recover?
Generally, there is no cap on the number of damages you can recover in a California car accident claim. However, there are exceptions. One notable exception arises when you are uninsured. In such a situation, Proposition 213 may come into play.
Certain provisions of Proposition 213 prevent an uninsured person from recovering noneconomic damages—intangible damages for things like pain and suffering—in civil actions. Thus, if you do not have minimum liability insurance as California law requires, you cannot claim noneconomic damages in a lawsuit.
Contact The Farzam Law Firm for Help with Your Accident Claim
Whether or not you think that your claim will exceed the responsible party’s insurance policy limits, having a skilled auto accident attorney advocating on your behalf is a must. The car accident attorney team at The Farzam Law Firm has helped countless clients recover the entirety of the damages they are owed after car accidents.
Whether you need help negotiating with an insurance company, think you will have to file a lawsuit, or want to consult with an attorney, we can help. Don’t let yourself get cheated out of damages that you are owed: contact us today for your free consultation!