What Happens When a Car Accident Claim Exceeds Insurance Limits
If you were severely injured in a car crash, your claim would likely exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy’s liability limits. However, this does not mean your compensation is limited to the driver’s insurance policy limits. If your claim exceeds their insurance policy’s limits, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party.
Insurance Limits in Texas
Texas residents must carry a minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance if they are operating a vehicle.
- Bodily injury liability: $30,000 per individual and $60,000 per accident.
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident.
These limits would not help drivers if an uninsured or underinsured driver struck them because liability coverage only covers other people’s losses if the insured is at fault for the incident. In addition, uninsured and underinsured insurance is not required in Texas. Still, insurance companies will generally offer this coverage as an add-on to your policy.
Insurance Limits in Washington
Washington residents must also carry minimum liability insurance, which differs from what Texas requires. Those licensed in Washington are required to maintain the following:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per accident.
- Property damage liability: $10,000 per accident.
These limits are not likely to cover the cost of severe injuries or the replacement or repair of a severely damaged car.
Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage helps cover your losses when you are hit by a driver who does not have insurance coverage or when your claim exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance limits. For example, if you have $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and your claim exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage by $25,000, your insurance should cover the excess losses.
Injuries That Are Likely to Exceed Insurance Policy Limits
If someone has their state minimum insurance coverage, certain injuries will likely cause losses more than the at-fault driver’s insurance limits, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Permanent disabilities
These injuries are likely to require ongoing medical care, so the cost of treatment will exceed $30,000. That means the minimum insurance requirements will be of little help in severe crashes. Additionally, cars continue to get more expensive, so the minimum property damage liability limit may be surpassed if the car is totaled.
What to Do When Your Claim Exceeds Policy Limits
If you do not have underinsured motorist coverage or the claim surpasses the at-fault driver’s insurance limits and your underinsured motorist coverage, you have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To file a successful personal injury lawsuit against another driver, you must prove that they were negligent in causing the collision.
In Texas, if you are more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you can be barred from recovering any compensation for your losses. However, in Washington, it doesn’t matter how much you contributed to the accident. You can recover compensation in the same percentage you were not at fault. For example, in Washington, if you are found to be 55 percent at fault for the accident, you can still recover 45 percent of your accident-related losses from the other driver.
Factors in Determining Fault
Even though insurance companies are not governed by the comparative fault rules, they are still influenced by them. If they know that, when you take your case to court, it’s not possible for you to recover more than 45 percent of your claimed losses, they will certainly not provide more compensation than that. For that reason, it’s important to convincingly prove that the other driver was as much at fault as possible.
A driver’s behavior and physical condition can affect fault in several ways. They could be at fault if they engaged in any of these behaviors:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to signal properly
- Making unsafe turns
- Disregarding traffic signs and signals
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Similarly, if you were speeding when an accident occurred, you may be found partially at fault, and your contribution to the accident could affect the amount of your compensation.
Contact Us Today
If you were injured in a car accident likely to exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy’s liability limits, it is important to contact an experienced Dallas car accident attorney immediately. A skilled personal injury attorney from The Benton Law Firm could review the facts of your case, discuss your legal options with you, and fight for you to receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact the attorneys of The Benton Law Firm by calling us at (214) 777-7777 or contacting us online for a free consultation.