If you suffer serious injuries in a car accident which was the fault of another driver, that driver’s insurance company may offer you the policy limit, even if you don’t have an attorney representing you. You may be wondering whether you need an accident injury attorney.
SHOULD YOU CONSULT AN ATTORNEY BEFORE SETTLING FOR THE OTHER DRIVER’S POLICY LIMIT?
YES. You should consult with an experienced and highly skilled personal injury attorney before settling for the other driver’s policy limit. You should NOT take the adjuster’s word about the amount of the policy limit.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys are constantly searching for ways to maximize a recovery for their clients. Plaintiff’s attorneys do not want to collect damages from the actual tortfeasor or wrongdoer. That can be difficult and time consuming. Instead, the personal injury attorney would like to collect directly from the insurance carrier.
All adjusters know that insurance policies are written with limitations. Under the policy, the amount of the premium will dictate how much the carrier will have to pay out.
Your personal injury attorney knows of these limitations and are always looking for ways to get around them. Plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys and insurance companies both know that if the carrier acts in bad faith, it can be called upon to pay more than the policy limit. Bad faith claims are a concern for every insurance carrier. Not only do they damage the carrier’s public image, they also place an insurance carrier at risk to pay damages in excess of the policy limit. Along with that, there is also the risk that the carrier will have to pay a claim for punitive damages.
Before recommending that you accept the policy limit, an experienced personal injury attorney will do four things:
- Your attorney will demand a copy of the other driver’s insurance declarations page that was in effect on the date of the accident. It will state the other driver’s liability policy limit. The amount stated needs to match the amount being represented to you by the adjuster.
- Your attorney will also have the other driver sign a written statement under penalty of perjury which states that at the time of the accident, the driver was not in the course and scope of employment and had no other insurance which may apply to the accident. A worker’s compensation case can complicated things. Your attorney should demand that the driver at fault whose policy limit may be inadequate to cover the client’s medical bills, lost wages and the like sign a declaration of assets under penalty of perjury.
- Your attorney will discuss with you the option of hiring an investigator to conduct an asset check on the other driver. It is possible that an asset check will turn up property and assets well in excess of the policy limit, in which case your attorney may recommend against accepting the policy limit offer. Instead, your attorney may recommend that you only accept the insurance policy limit if the other driver contributes some of his/her own money to increase the settlement.
- Your attorney needs to make certain there are no other potentially at-fault parties to go after or name in your lawsuit This step needs to be done before you sign the release from the carrier because language in the release will typically state that you are releasing everyone, which would preclude you from making a claim later against any other responsible party who contributed to your injury accident.
Even if the policy limits is provided and appears adequate the insurance company will immediately tender it upon receipt of documentation of your medical bills and injuries, you should still consult with an attorney before signing the settlement release. The attorney will protect your interests and make sure there’s no additional money left on the table before you sign the release.
If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, call Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507—SERVING the Entire North BAY since 1992 with convenient offices in both Sonoma and Marin Counties with weekend and evening hours.
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First and foremost, we have an interest in representing injured individuals who have been wronged by insurance carriers and governmental entities who may not have maintained the roadway or the signals that caused your injury as in the Caltrans case:
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