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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default What Should You Do If You Are Sued for Damages Beyond Policy Limits

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: CA
    I had a car accident about a year back, where I was at fault and two people were injured including a minor. I have been sued, and the case is now going to a jury trial; because the plaintiffs did not accept the settlement amount offered by my insurance company (maximum policy limit for bodily injury for each person). The insurance company tells me that at least for the minor, the claim amount will be much bigger than my policy limit (claim amount is unspecified so far). I asked if I should hire my own attorney and was told, that if I do, they cannot help me. They assured me that their attorney will represent me and try his best to keep our liability to a minimum. Is this the normal procedure when the claim amount is expected to go far beyond the policy limits ? Will the insurance company attorney actually work in favour of the defendant, even though they know they are not liable for the amount over the coverage limits ?
    Is there anything I can do to reduce my liability ? The insurance company also advised me very strictly not to discuss this case with anyone outside this case, including other attorneys. Please let me know if I should just let them handle the case and not look for other legal advice regarding my defense. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: Injury Case Over Limits : Should Defendant Go with Insurance Company Attorney

    They are offering you an attorney for free (not really, as you this is what you pay your insurance premiums for) and you want to go hire your own attorney and pay out of pocket? If you have that kind of cash, I'd just save it to pay towards the judgement.

    The way to reduce your liability was to carry higher limits.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: What Should You Do If You Are Sued for Damages Beyond Policy Limits

    The insurance company only insures you up to the policy limits. If you end up with an excess verdict against you, and have no other coverage (e.g., umbrella coverage) to pick up the excess, the judgment creditor can pursue your personal assets. Most auto accident damages are dischargeable in bankruptcy (typical exceptions from discharge damages from intentional torts, or arising from voluntary intoxication), and most personal injury lawyers aren't particularly interested in trying to pursue damages beyond the policy limits, but if the defendant has significant assets the defendant can be asked to contribute to a settlement above the policy limits.

    If your insurance company believes that this is an excess damages case - they don't dispute liability and believe that damages are in excess of the amount of coverage you chose to purchase - they should be offering a settlement at policy limits.

    When you say, "The insurance company also advised me very strictly not to discuss this case with anyone outside this case, including other attorneys", if they're warning you not to speak to attorneys for other parties, that makes sense. But I would expect that their notice to you warning of excess liability was pretty clear that you have the right to retain a lawyer to represent you in relation to your defense against that excess claim.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: What Should You Do If You Are Sued for Damages Beyond Policy Limits

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    When you say, "The insurance company also advised me very strictly not to discuss this case with anyone outside this case, including other attorneys", if they're warning you not to speak to attorneys for other parties, that makes sense. But I would expect that their notice to you warning of excess liability was pretty clear that you have the right to retain a lawyer to represent you in relation to your defense against that excess claim.
    Thank you for your feedback.
    From what I understood, the insurance attorney asked me not to talk to anyone outside the case and keep the papers confidential. Regarding the process of hiring my own attorney for defense against excess claim - can you please elaborate on how that works ? At what stage does the personal attorney get involved in the case and in what authority ? Does he work together with the insurance attorney from the beginning ? Or can he be brought in later when we know of the actual numbers or some ballpark on the claim amount and our liability ? I presume I will need approval from the insurance attorney to bring in someone in my defense ? I am a little apprehensive about how they would take it, given that they have been saying they'll try to reduce our liability.

    Also, I am confused - why is there a restriction on talking to another attorney for a second opinion ? I am not sure how it can hurt the case.
    - - - Updated - - -

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