Car accidents can mean substantial injuries and immense financial damages. You may find yourself dealing with serious damage to your vehicle and the cost of managing major injuries, including ongoing medical expenses that can, in many cases, feel financially crippling. Unfortunately, many insurance policies do not offer adequate compensation.
Can you get more than the at-fault party’s insurance policy limits after a car accident? Understanding how insurance companies handle claims and what policy limits really look like can make it easier to determine what you can recover after a car accident.
$25,000 in compensation for property damage per incident
$25,000 in compensation for bodily injury to one person in an accident
$50,000 in compensation for bodily injury to more than one person in an accident
The insurance coverage a driver actually carries can vary. Some drivers, especially those that drive more expensive vehicles themselves, may carry more extensive insurance policies that provide additional protection in the event of an accident.
Unfortunately, costs related to an accident can quickly exceed the protection offered by a bare minimum liability policy. Suppose, for example, that you have a vehicle worth $30,000. If the at-fault driver carries a minimum insurance policy, you may need to recover $5,000 more than the insurance policy’s limits.
Can You Get More than the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Policy Limits?
Many insurance companies will not pay out any more than the policy’s limits. Those policy limits may serve as the maximum amount you can recover through an insurance claim against that driver. However, there are several things you can do that may increase the compensation you can recover beyond the limits of the policy.
Talk to a Lawyer
Before you begin negotiations with the insurance company after a serious accident, start by talking to a lawyer. A lawyer can obtain a copy of the liable driver’s insurance policy and review it to make sure of the full coverage offered by that policy. Furthermore, a lawyer can offer insights into the full compensation you may deserve for serious injuries sustained in an accident.
In some cases, a lawyer may be able to identify policy exceptions or coverage options that can help increase the compensation you can recover. That compensation may go beyond what the insurance company initially insists is their maximum compensation.
A lawyer can help with negotiations with the insurance company to help maximize your compensation as much as possible. By working with a lawyer, you can often feel much more confident about the outcome of your claim.
Sue the Driver Directly
If a driver does not carry adequate auto insurance, and you suffer damages that far exceed the protection offered by the insurance policy, you may have the right to pursue compensation from the driver directly. Instead of filing a claim through the insurance company alone, you can choose to sue the driver for additional compensation that covers the rest of the damages you sustained in the accident.
When choosing to sue the liable driver directly, keep in mind that many people do not keep the funds on hand to cover the full compensation you might deserve after a serious car accident. In some cases, even if the court awards you reasonable compensation for your injuries, you may have a very hard time actually recovering it. Talk to a lawyer to better understand how much compensation you can reasonably expect and whether suing the liable driver directly will help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Identify Additional Contributing Parties
In some cases, you may discover that more than one party actively contributed to the circumstances that caused your accident. Suppose, for example, that you got into an accident involving a commercial driver. On further investigation, your lawyer may discover that the driver’s employer has a number of dangerous policies, including pushing its drivers to speed, that may have contributed to the conditions that caused the accident. As a result, the employer may share liability for the accident.
Likewise, suppose that you got into an accident with a drunk driver. If the driver was under 21, or if the driver obtained alcohol while clearly already intoxicated, Georgia’s dram shop law may allow you to pursue compensation from the establishment that provided that alcohol.
A lawyer can help identify any other parties that may have contributed to the accident, which may help you pursue compensation from each party that may share liability. In many cases, other entities, particularly businesses, will have umbrella policies that provide coverage any time their employees, or others associated with the business, cause serious injury to another party through negligence.
Check Your Personal Coverage
After a car accident, you may need to use your own insurance coverage to get the full compensation you deserve for serious injuries.
Georgia insurers offer optional personal injury protection coverage that can provide immediate assistance when you suffer injuries in a car accident, regardless of who caused your injuries. The PIP coverage you carry may depend on your specific insurance policy. Georgia does not mandate that coverage, so not all drivers have it.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Some drivers, in addition to their standard liability policies, will choose to add underinsured motorist coverage. While uninsured motorist coverage offers compensation when you get into an accident with a driver who does not carry insurance at all, underinsured motorist coverage offers compensation when you get into an accident with a driver who does not carry adequate car insurance to provide the protection and compensation you need after an accident. Have your lawyer look over your policy to determine what additional protection your underinsured motorist coverage may offer, including compensation for vehicle repairs or for your medical expenses after an accident.
Consult a Lawyer After a Georgia Car Accident
When you suffer serious injuries in a car accident, you may deserve substantial compensation for those injuries. Recovering that compensation on your own, however, can prove difficult. Contact Cambre & Associates, LLC today to discuss the compensation you may deserve after car accident injuries.