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Can My Car Accident Settlement Exceed the Limits of My Insurance Policy?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

California car accident victims may be entitled to damages. But, being entitled to damages and recovering a financial award are two separate things. 

Every year in California, lawyers help people pursue compensation after auto collisions. Clients often believe that a negligent driver’s insurance company is fully responsible for paying all awarded damages. However, it’s important to note that insurance companies are only obligated to pay up to the at-fault party’s policy limits. 

So, can you recover more than the insurance policy limits after a car accident? Yes,  with help from an experienced California car accident attorney, there are options for recovering awards beyond insurance policy limits.  

Collecting Car Accident Compensation that Exceeds Insurance Policy Limits

Car accidents that result in severe, debilitating injuries can leave personal injury victims struggling with enormous medical debt and lost income. It is vital to retain a skilled car accident attorney who can advise you about your compensation case and options for collecting awards surpassing insurance policy limits. 

4 Ways to Recover a High-Dollar Financial Award Following a California Car Accident 

1. Suing an At-fault Driver 

If your claim judgment exceeds a policy holder’s insurance limits, you have an option to sue the at-fault party directly for the difference. Even if successful, not all defendants have enough assets to cover the remaining damages. If the person you sue is of meager means, suing to collect additional money may prove futile.

2. Suing Multiple Defendants 

Multiple at-fault defendants often create access to several insurance policies from which compensation can be paid.  Defendants may be held jointly and severally liable for damages. The award will be pulled from each insurance policy proportional to the degree the defendant was held responsible for the accident.

3. Umbrella Policies 

Umbrella policies provide extra coverage above primary policy amounts. It is most common to find umbrella policies in effect for commercial and corporate entities, though some individuals also carry umbrella policies. 

When a policyholder’s liability exceeds their primary policy limits, their umbrella coverage may cover additional amounts awarded from your car accident claim.

4. Insurance Bad-Faith

Insurance companies are in business to make money, sometimes leading them to engage in bad faith practices during settlement proceedings. If an insurance company can reasonably settle a provable claim and yet refuses to do so, they may be guilty of acting in bad faith. 

Suppose your car accident lawyer can prove bad faith practices by an insurance company. In that scenario, the insurer may be required to pay the total damages awarded in your legal case, despite policy limits.  

How a California Car Accident Attorney Can Help You

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need the help of an attorney. This is especially true when your compensation claim exceeds the policy limits of the at-fault party. Each personal injury case presents its unique challenges, but recovering compensation beyond insurance policy limits is possible. 

For help understanding your rights to compensation and how you can collect an award beyond policy limits, contact our office today. An experienced California car accident attorney will explain your legal options and strategize to win maximum compensation for your current and future needs.  

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.