By: Matthew Tievsky
If your injuries and damages resulting from an auto accident -- your medical
bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. -- amount to, say, $50,000,
then justice dictates that you should be able to recover the full $50,000
from the defendant. Yet if the defendant's automobile insurance policy
only goes up to, say, $30,000, then getting the extra $20,000 can be a
challenge. But there are three prominent methods to recover the extra
money that you're entitled to.
- One of the simplest methods – which allows you to take matters into
your own hands – is to protect yourself ahead of time by purchasing
an "underinsured motorist policy," which covers you in the event
that the defendant's insurance policy limits are too low. For example,
if you have a $50,000 underinsured motorist policy, you win a verdict
of $50,000, but the defendant has a policy with only a $30,000 limit,
your underinsured motorist policy will provide you the extra $20,000.
- A second method is to go after the defendant's personal assets for
any amount that his/her insurance policy won't cover. This means,
for example, putting a lien on his/her property (such as his house or
car), or requiring his/her employer to pay a fraction of his/her wages
directly to you until the debt is paid off.
- The third method is to prosecute a "bad faith claim," which arises
under certain circumstances. Let's say your case is clearly worth
more than the limits of the defendant's insurance policy, but the
defendant's insurer fails to offer you the policy limits to settle
the case. If you then win a verdict greater than the defendant's insurance
policy limits, the defendant has a right to sue his own insurer for failing
to protect him/her by settling the case. This is called a "bad faith
claim." If that occurs, then you may potentially reach an agreement
with the defendant not to go after his/her personal assets, if in exchange
the defendant "gives" the bad faith claim to you, to prosecute.
This may give you the power to collect the full amount of the verdict,
and not just the amount of the defendant's insurance policy.
If you have any questions about the value of your auto accident claim,
and how to maximize that value, you should
contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.