Can I Get an Auto Accident Settlement That Exceeds the Policy Limits?
If you suffer injuries in an accident because of someone else’s negligence, personal injury laws allow you to collect compensation for damages, lost wages, and medical costs from the other party.
However, sometimes the amount of money you deserve in compensation exceeds the policy limits of insurance coverage available. While it’s possible to receive damages in excess of the defendant’s insurance policy limits, it’s incredibly difficult. Thankfully, experienced personal injury lawyers know how to navigate insurance laws to seek the best outcome possible.
While you wait for your lawyer to fight for a higher settlement, you might find that your medical bills exceed policy limits. At Nova Legal Funding, we offer pre-settlement lawsuit loans to plaintiffs who need financial assistance during a lawsuit.
What Are Policy Limits?
When someone purchases an insurance policy, it usually comes with a limit. The policy limit is the maximum amount of money the insurance company agrees to pay on behalf of the insurance policyholder for damage they cause in an accident.
For example, if the at-fault driver in your accident has an insurance policy limit of $50,000 for injuries, that’s the maximum amount the insurer must legally pay to you. As long as your lost wages, medical costs, etc. don’t exceed that amount, you can seek their full value from the insurer. However, when a judge or jury awards you more than the policy limit, the insurance company isn’t obligated to pay more than the limit.
What Should I Do If My Medical Bills Exceed the Insurance Policy Limit?
If your medical bills exceed the insurance policy limit, you may be able to seek additional damages. However, it may take months or even years to reach a settlement. To keep you and your family financially afloat, you should consider applying for a pre-settlement lawsuit loan from Nova Legal Funding.
Pre-settlement lawsuit loans are cash advances given to plaintiffs in exchange for a portion of their settlement. At Nova Legal Funding, we offer risk-free, low-interest lawsuit loans to personal injury plaintiffs who need cash to pay for basic expenses while they wait for a settlement.
Is It Possible to Get More than the At-Fault Driver’s Policy Limit?
Yes, but it’s very difficult. If you decide to pursue more than the other driver’s policy limit, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer. The law allows you to collect excess damages in four different ways:
- Collecting from the at-fault driver;
- Filing a suit against additional defendants;
- Pursuing higher compensation under an umbrella policy; or
- Proving that the insurance company acted in bad faith.
If you have your own coverage policy that protects you in an accident, you can pursue additional damages through your own policy.
While pursuing compensation in excess of a policy limit is difficult, it’s possible under certain circumstances. Here are some of the ways you can collect injury compensation beyond insurance policy limits.
Collecting Excess Compensation from the Defendant
In most cases, an umbrella policy doesn’t exist and there aren’t any other defendants who may be liable. The only option is to try to collect from the original defendant.
Unfortunately, many defendants don’t have enough assets to claim for a judgment. To avoid this situation, you should consider purchasing underinsured motorist coverage.
Filing a Suit Against More Defendants
In some instances, multiple people may be liable for your accident. For example, you might be hit by a person who drives a company vehicle on behalf of their employer. In this situation you can sue the employer under the respondeat superior doctrine. Under this doctrine, employers assume responsibility for the negligent actions of their employees while on the clock.
Getting Compensation from an Umbrella Policy
An umbrella policy is a type of insurance that adds additional coverage beyond the primary insurance policy. Typically, wealthier individuals use umbrella policies to cover their assets in case of a lawsuit.
Pursuing a Claim Against the Insurance Company for Acting in Bad Faith
This is the most difficult way to obtain compensation in excess of an insurance policy in a personal injury case. To successfully prove that an insurance company acted in bad faith, you must show that they refused to settle for a reasonable amount when it was clear that the plaintiff was entitled to recover.
For example, if the at-fault driver agrees to settle the case for the amount you request and their insurance company refuses, without good reason, the insurance company could be liable for the damages awarded in a jury verdict.
How Often Do Auto Accident Settlements Exceed Policy Limits?
Auto accident settlements rarely exceed policy limits. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average bodily injury claim awarded in 2018 was $15,785, while the average property damage claim amount was $3,841.
Since bodily injury liability policies usually cover anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000, it’s rare that a typical auto accident claim exceeds the policy limit. The minimum requirements for bodily injury liability coverage also vary between states.
Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer to Get a Settlement That Exceeds the Policy Limits?
No, but we highly recommend you hire a personal injury lawyer. Research shows that having a personal injury attorney typically results in a $60,000 higher settlement payout on average. Even when you deduct attorney fees from your award, you’re likely to walk away with three times as much compensation as someone without an attorney. In addition, nine out of ten plaintiffs with an attorney receive a settlement, while only about 50% of plaintiffs without legal representation receive compensation.
Do Your Medical Costs Exceed Insurance Policy Limits? Apply for a Pre-Settlement Lawsuit Loan Today
When you suffer injuries in an accident, you might lose the ability to work, causing medical bills, legal fees, and living expenses to pile up. If life won’t wait for your settlement, consider applying for a pre-settlement lawsuit loan from Nova Legal Funding.
Our lawsuit loans can be used to pay your attorney, buy groceries, pay your rent or mortgage, or even get medical treatment. We have the lowest rates guaranteed and offer risk-free borrowing. If you don’t win your case, you don’t have to pay us back.
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