Personal Injury Blog

How to Recover More Money than the Defendant's Insurance Policy Provides

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.Auto Insurance Personal Injury

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.