If you are involved in an accident where another driver is at fault, the defendant's insurance coverage should compensate your damages. However, the defendant's insurance company can only compensate you up to their client's insurance limit. You must consider other avenues if you wish to recover more than the defendant's insurance limit.
Below are examples of these additional avenues.
The Defendant's Umbrella Policy
Many people carry multiple lines of insurance. Check if the defendant has another insurance that can cover your damages in addition to their car insurance. For example, some people buy umbrella policies for protection against liability claims. An umbrella policy covers liability claims that exceed other insurance limits.
Say your auto accident damages total $500,000, but the defendant's auto insurance limit is only $250,000. You can recover the rest of the $250,000 from the defendant's umbrella policy. Note that corporates are more likely to have umbrella policies than individuals, but it doesn't hurt to check.
Check if more than one person is liable for your damages. Just because a driver hits your car, it doesn't mean that they are the only one who should compensate you. For example, you may be eligible for compensation from:
- An alcohol server who provided the defendant with alcohol when the defendant was already intoxicated
- The defendant's employer who hired the defendant despite their history of recklessness on the road
- The car owner who lent their vehicle to the defendant despite knowing that the defendant doesn't have a driving license
Investigate the defendant and the circumstances of the accident to help you identify such additional defendants. An auto accident attorney can help you with the investigations.
Your Insurance Coverage
You may collect additional damages from your own insurance company if you have underinsured motorist coverage. Auto insurance companies sell the coverage to motorists who would like to protect themselves if they are involved in accidents with motorists with low insurance limits.
The Defendant's Personal Effects
Lastly, you may also use the defendant's personal effects for additional compensation. This option is possible if the defendant has a significant wage, cash, or valuable personal effects. You cannot use the belongings that the defendant needs to survive, such as their house or personal car.
Clearly, you shouldn't automatically settle for less auto accident damages than you deserve. Evaluate all the possible sources of compensation before making a decision. An auto accident lawyer can help you with the evaluation and pursuit of damages.