When you present an auto accident claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance, your potential settlement might be limited by how much coverage the other driver has. An insured’s policy limits dictate how much the insurance company will pay for an accident. What happens if you have a serious accident with life-changing injuries? Understandably, victims want to know, How often do auto accident settlements exceed the policy limits?
Unfortunately, collecting any compensation beyond the insured’s insurance limits is rare. That doesn’t mean it never happens, only that it’s not very common. Every situation is unique. If you have questions on how much auto accident compensation you can receive, please speak with a skilled California car accident lawyer at Silva Injury Law.
Liability Insurance Coverage in California
An auto accident claim value can exceed available limits because California has low liability insurance requirements. With numerous California cities having high cost-of-living rates, some policyholders opt to purchase the bare minimum in liability auto insurance coverage. California Vehicle Code Section 16451 sets the state’s requirements for auto liability limits. Minimum auto liability limits are:
- $15,000 for the injury or death of one individual in a single accident.
- $30,000 for the injury or death of multiple people in a single accident.
- $5,000 for the damage to other people’s property.
With the high cost of medical care and expensive replacement parts on newer or luxury vehicles, it’s easy to see how your claim value can exceed policy limits. Some drivers do have higher policies, but there’s no guarantee that the driver who caused your accident does.
What Happens If Your Claim Exceeds the Policy Limits?
Insurance companies must review each claim and thoroughly examine all the details. They must offer a fair settlement. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters treat fair compensation as being near or at policy limits, regardless of how much your case is worth. If your claim value exceeds policy limits, the insurance company will not offer an auto accident settlement beyond the limits.
How to Sue Beyond Auto Insurance Policy Limits
You might have several options if your claim value exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance. These are not guaranteed to get you a higher settlement, nor will they apply in every scenario. Speak with an experienced California car accident attorney at Silva Injury Law to discuss the best course of legal action. Here is a look at potential ways you might get more compensation for your auto accident.
File a Lawsuit Against the Driver Personally
One option is to pursue compensation from the defendant directly. However, this won’t be a good option if the defendant has no financial assets to satisfy your judgment. If you file against someone who owns nothing and makes little money, it might not be worth it. Getting a judgment against the defendant is one thing; collecting that judgment is quite another.
Sue Another Third Party
Should there be another third party who shares some responsibility for your injuries, you should also pursue a claim against them. It’s pretty common to have multiple at-fault parties in a car accident. Sometimes other third parties might be automobile manufacturers, employers, package delivery companies, etc. These defendants have much higher liability limits than the average consumer.
File a Lawsuit for Bad Faith
California insurance companies are required to act in good faith toward someone filing a claim, even third parties. Third-party bad faith is not common, but it does exist. However, you need a skilled attorney with experience with these types of claims. Under California Insurance Code Section 790.03, an insurer acts in bad faith when using various tactics to delay or minimize a claim. Some of these tactics might be illegal, which could open the door to a third-party bad faith claim.
Filing an Underinsured Motorist Claim
Do you carry uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage on your auto insurance policy? If so, you might have the option to file an underinsured motorist claim. This coverage allows you to file a claim with your own insurer when the at-fault driver doesn’t have adequate insurance or assets to pay your claim. You can file a claim with your UIM carrier for whatever portion exceeds the other driver’s limits. Note: your insurance company will treat a UIM claim as a third-party claim. That means they aren’t necessarily looking out for your best interests.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in California
If you have questions on how often do auto accident settlements exceed the policy limits, or you want to know what options apply in your case to file a claim for additional money, contact Silva Injury Law today. We have years of experience pursuing the maximum compensation in auto accidents for our clients. We understand how frustrating it is when you know your case is worth more than available insurance. Let us review your case and discuss the best course of legal action.
FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP
At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.