I was hurt in a car accident in Wilmington, North Carolina. My medical bills are outrageously high. The driver who caused the accident has the minimum insurance limits ($30,000.00) that are required by law. The adjuster has offered to pay the policy limits ($30,000.00). Should I get an attorney? What should I do?
State law requires each vehicle owner to carry at least $30,000.00 of liability insurance coverage. You can purchase more. Many people carry at least $100,000 in liability coverage per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
The liability insurance policy for the vehicle of the responsible driver is required to pay for the medical and other expenses of those who were not at fault. The policy will pay up to the limits of the policy. In other words, where there is $30,000.00 (or $60,000.00) of liability coverage, the insurance company could be required to pay that entire amount, but no more.
Where the damages are greater than the limits of the insurance policy, the injured person must look for other sources of recovery. These are some of the questions your lawyer will ask in order to comprehensively address this complex issue:
- Does the responsible driver have a different liability policy that you could access?
- Was the responsible driver working for his employer at the time of the accident?
- Does the responsible driver have an umbrella insurance policy?
- Does the injured person have underinsured motorist coverage?
- Does the responsible driver have assets that could be seized and sold in order to pay some or all of the judgment beyond the limits of the insurance policy?*
* This particular analysis can be complicated. Before you reject the insurance companies offer to settle the case for the policy limits and proceed with a lawsuit, you must think clearly and carefully. If you were seriously injured by the negligence of another person, you are probably angry. Who could blame you? I would be. Of course, you want the person responsible for the accident to pay for the damage they caused. In fact, the law requires it.
However, if the negilgent driver does not have the assets to pay for damages beyond the limits of the insurance policy, you will be wasting valuable time and money. You may want to perform an asset search in order to determine whether this is a viable option. The process of securing and enforcing a judgment can be expensive. If the responsible person does not have sufficient assets, then you will have wasted time and money for no reason.
Where damages exceed insurance coverage you need an experienced personal injury lawyer more than ever. A good lawyer may be able to find additional sources or recovery. He or she may be able to perform an informal asset search. From that he will be able to determine whether you should you accept the policy limits or fight for more.
Even if there is not enough money to pay all of the medical expenses from the available insurance policy, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. He may be able to negotiate down the amount of the outstanding medical bills. He may be able to use financial leverage and statutory laws to get your bills paid and still put a substantial amount of money in your pocket. Call or contact us now to find out how we can help you maximize your recovery in your auto accident and injury case.