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Securing Full Recovery: When Damages Exceed Insurance Policy Limits

Posted in Car Insurance Claims on November 17, 2020

A car accident can be shocking, terrifying, and result in injuries to drivers and passengers who were not at fault for the accident. After dealing with their injuries, car accident victims face the daunting task of recovering from the responsible party for their injuries. Car accident recovery often involves recovery from one or more insurance companies and can be very confusing, especially if the cost of your injuries exceed the insurance limits of your defendant’s insurance policies. 

If you are a car accident victim, don’t settle for less recovery than you deserve regardless of the limits on the defendant’s insurance policy. Read on to understand your options for securing recovery in addition to any payment by an insurance provider.

Determining Responsibility

Before you can seek to recover your injuries, you must establish which party was at fault for the accident. A party is responsible if they acted negligently or intentionally in a manner that caused the accident and your injuries and can include:

  • Drivers: A driver of one of the vehicles involved is most often responsible for a car accident. All drivers must operate their vehicle with the same standard of care as other reasonable drivers under the same conditions and must follow all traffic laws and regulations. Failure to meet this duty, including speeding, driving under the influence, or distracted driving, is evidence of negligence. It is important to secure a police report after an accident to preserve any evidence of negligence.
  • Employer: If the responsible driver was acting in the course of their duties as an employee at the time of the accident, the employer is responsible. Employer’s generally have higher insurance policy limits, so it is important to determine if it is possible to pursue the employer.
  • Vehicle Manufacturer: The manufacturer of any vehicle is responsible for performing testing to ensure the vehicle is safe and functions property. If a vehicle malfunction, including failure of any safety feature, caused or contributed to your injuries, explore recovery from the manufacturer.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: Injuries often limit the victim’s ability to participate in activities that were previously an important part of their life. If you have experienced this loss of enjoyment, the defendant is responsible for compensation.

Your lawyer will work with you to analyze the circumstances of the accident and determine the strength of your case against the responsible party. Once you have determined fault, you will need to determine the full scope of the damages you have suffered.

Preparing a Damages Demand

In order to understand whether the defendant’s insurance coverage will be sufficient to compensate you for your injuries, you will need to understand the full extent of your damages. Car accident damages often include:

  • Medical Expenses: The defendant is responsible for all medical expenses associated with your injuries including future medical expenses.
  • Lost Income: If your injuries require you to miss work or will affect your ability to work in the future, include these lost earnings in your damages demand.
  • Property Damage: The defendant must cover the costs of reimbursement or repair any of your personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Emotional Distress: Car accident victims often struggle with anxiety, depression, or PTSD after a car accident. If you are suffering emotional impacts, work with your attorney to include these in your damages.

A comprehensive damages assessment is important as you evaluate whether insurance coverage can fully compensate you for your injuries.

Seeking Full Recovery Regardless of Insurance Limits

After a car accident, the insurance provider for the at-fault driver often settles the claim and pays the victim for their injuries. An insurance company will not, however, pay out more than is covered by the responsible driver’s policy limits. This does not mean your recovery is bound to these limits. Consider the following options for ensuring full recovery:

  • Seek recovery from multiple defendants. If more than one party is responsible for the accident, ensure each responsible party pays for their negligent actions. Defendants are held jointly and severally liable — meaning each has to pay their share of the damages. For example, if the accident was caused by a negligent driver and your injuries were more severe because of failed airbag deployment, you should seek recovery from the driver and the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Exhaust all insurance policies. After a car accident, you are rightly focused on the negligent driver’s car insurance coverage. Some defendants, however, might also carry an umbrella insurance policy which provides coverage above and beyond their car insurance policy. This additional coverage should be pursued for any damages not covered by the car insurance policy.
  • Pursue the negligent driver directly. Insurance policy limits do not relieve the at-fault driver from responsibility. If your injuries exceed the driver’s insurance limits, you can sue the at-fault driver for the remainder of your damages. This is only a viable path to recovery if the defendant is likely to have the necessary assets to pay out the remaining damages.
  • Watch out for insurance bad faith. An insurance provider acts in bad faith if they refuse to settle a reasonable and provable claim made by a victim. If you are willing to settle within the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, a refusal by the insurer could be bad faith. Your lawyer can help you evaluate whether bad faith exists. 

Navigating recovery after a car accident is a stressful time and requires an understanding of negligence and insurance policies. An experienced attorney is an important partner in establishing a strong case against the defendant and when communicating with the insurance provider. A lawyer will also help you develop a strategy for recovery, even if your damages exceed the defendant’s insurance policy limits.

The team at John W. Redmann, LLC make it our mission to empower clients and help them secure fair recovery for their injuries — including holding negligent parties and their insurers accountable. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Louisiana, contact John W. Redmann, LLC today at (504) 608-4631 or through our website to schedule a free virtual consultation today.