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Insurance Limits: Caps On Automobile Accident Lawsuits

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Posted On 03.03.13 by in Uncategorized

One of the most important factors in determining the value of a car accident or personal injury case is the available insurance policies.  While the limits of those policies don’t legally limit the amount of money you can collect in a lawsuit, as a practical matter they often represent the only money available.

What Insurance Is Available?

One of your lawyer’s main jobs is to determine how much insurance is available.  This will require a determination of the potential defendants (who was at fault for your accident).  Each of those defendants may have one or more insurance policies.

When insurance policies are identified, there are two ways to determine the amount of available coverage.  This information is available through discovery when a lawsuit is filed.  However, there are circumstances where insurance information can be determined earlier. Before a lawsuit is filed, victims (or their lawyers) can submit specific information to the insurance company.  Here are the relevant rules:

Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings 10-1101 et seq.

Insurance company must provide the amount of an insurance policy or self-insured coverage when the plaintiff (or attorneys) provide:

  • date of the accident
  • name and last known address of the negligent person
  • vehicle accident report, if available
  • claim number
  • medical bills, medical records and documentation of lost wages

Importantly, this information is only accessible when the injured victim’s total medical bills and lost wages are $12,500 or higher.

West Virginia Code § 33-6F-2 

Insurance company must provide the following information within 30 days of written request including:

  • Name of insurer
  • Name of each listed insured
  • Limits of any motor vehicle policy in effect at the accident, or the declarations page

The request must include:

  • Date and location of the accident
  • Name and last known address of the insured
  • Copy of any accident or police report
  • Claim number
  • Good faith estimate of medical expenses and lost wage documentation
  • Documentation of property damage

Why Can’t I Receive More Than The Insurance Policy?

If there is a limited insurance policy that is less than the total amount of your damages (your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering), they you can go to trial and potentially get a verdict for more than the insurance policy.  If that happens, the insurance company will be required to pay up to the limits of the policy.  Then, you will have the option to collect against the remainder against the negligent defendant.

The reality, though, is that very few people are independently wealthy.  Efforts to seek more against an individual defendant will often be unsuccessful, because those defendants will oftentimes file bankruptcy, which can foil recovery of a person’s assets.

Protecting Yourself Against Low Insurance Policies

When purchasing automobile insurance, the best protection is high Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and a high level of uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) protection.

Contact Us

Dealing with insurance companies, even your own, can be confusing.  If you’ve been in a personal injury accident and need to make a claim, contact our automobile accident lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or online.

More Insurance Claim Information

 

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