Understanding Policy Limits & Personal Injury Claims in Georgia
When someone is hurt in any sort of accident, filing a personal injury claim against the liable party will be necessary in order to collect compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. In an ideal situation, the wrongfully injured will get as much compensation as is needed and end up not losing a dime due to the whole ordeal. However, there is one factor in all cases that can put a hamper on things and a hard cap on how much the injured can collect: insurance policy limits.
What is an Insurance Policy Limit?
When you purchase accident or liability insurance, the insurance carrier should inform you of the policy limit. Put simply, the policy limit is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out in the event you do something wrong and get sued for liability. Policy limits are in place for both out of court settlements and jury verdicts or judge’s awards.
For example: A driver has an insurance policy limit of $25,000. An accident causes $30,000 in damage. In the event of a payout, the insurance company will only provide $25,000. The remaining $5,000 will not be paid by that insurer, no matter where liability lies.
Importance of Insurance Policy Limits in Georgia
In most states, insurance companies of third parties liable for your accident do not have to tell you where the policy limit lies until it is reached, either in settlement or a jury verdict. This can be a bit of a headache as you might strive to collect as much as you need only to find out the limit is much lower than expected. Georgia pays a favor to plaintiffs by allowing them to know the at-fault party’s policy limit. The injured party can request to know the limit within the first 60 days after the accident or collision, and the insurance party must comply.
Collecting Beyond the Policy Limit
An insurance policy limit is a significant road block in a personal injury claim but it is not entirely unpassable. While you cannot compel an insurance company to pay beyond its preset liability limit, there are other ways to collect excess damages.
Three methods might be possible to receive more damages than the liable party’s insurance policy allows:
- Multiple defendants: You can sue multiple liable parties, and each one will be limited by their own policy limits. You cannot collect more than the total amount deemed fair or necessary, no matter how many parties are found liable for your damages.
- Umbrella policies: Sometimes one defendant will be covered by multiple insurance companies who all have an interest – and liability coverage policy – in the case. This is known as umbrella policies and generally comes up when you are filing a claim against someone employed or represented by a corporation, such as a truck driver.
- Direct lawsuits: If you want to go beyond an insurance policy limit, you will need to take the insurance company out of the picture. You can file a lawsuit directly against the liable party who caused the accident, like the driver in a car accident. This will be difficult, though, as most individuals in such situations simply do not have the funds to pay for your damages on their own, and any winning judgement will be uncollectible.
Put Up a Fight for Maximized Compensation
An insurance policy limit might act as a barrier of sorts to how much compensation you can collect in a single personal injury claim or lawsuit, but it should not deter you. When you are injured by the reckless, negligent, or malicious actions of another party, you must take action and hold them accountable. Ross Moore II, P.C. and our Atlanta personal injury lawyer are here to help you stand up for your rights and seek each cent possible, even if that means hitting the policy limit.