Securing Full Recovery: When Damages Exceed Insurance Limits
A car accident is a jarring event, often resulting in physical injury and property damage. In Nevada, there were 330 traffic fatalities in 2018 primarily caused by impaired driving, speeding, lane departures, and issues at intersections. It’s clear that car accidents are a constant risk on the roads of Nevada.
Often, the negligent or intentional acts of a driver or other party are responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. After suffering injuries, the victims are left to seek recovery for their injuries from the responsible parties and their insurance providers. Dealing with insurance providers can be complicated and confusing, especially when the insurance provider denies your claim or the costs of your injuries exceed the insurance limits.
You deserve to recover for the full extent of your injuries, no matter the insurance limits of the negligent driver. Read on to understand your options for recovering for your injuries.
Who Is Responsible for the Accident?
The first step in securing recovery for your injuries is determining which party is at fault. Any party whose intentional or negligent acts cause an accident are responsible for the injuries that occur as a result. Common responsible parties in a car accident include:
- Driver: A driver is most often at fault for a car accident. Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicle with the same level of care and caution as other drivers under the same conditions. This includes following all traffic laws and regulations. Speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, and failing to follow traffic signs or signals are examples of driver negligence.
- Employer: If a negligent driver was operating in the scope of their duties as an employee at the time of the accident, the employer is responsible. It is generally preferable to pursue the employer for recover because their insurance limits are higher.
- Vehicle Manufacturer: Manufacturers of any product including vehicles are required to perform safety testing prior to launching a product. In addition to this testing, a manufacturer must not put any faulty product on the market. If a vehicle malfunction causes an accident or increases the severity of injuries, the manufacturer is responsible.
- Local Government: The local government is responsible for maintaining roadways and traffic signs and signals. If unkempt roadways or failing traffic signs caused the accident, the government is responsible. It can be very difficult to secure recovery from the government, however, as they are often protected from lawsuits.
Work with your attorney to build a case against the responsible party including collection of evidence. One important piece of evidence will be a police report which will contain documentation of the accident scene, witness information, and any citations issued against a driver.
Calculating Your Damages
Once you have established that another party is responsible, you will need to prepare a comprehensive assessment of your damages. This figure will be used by the jury if the case proceeds to trial but will also be essential to analyzing settlement offers from the defendant and their insurance company.
If you have suffered any of the following damages as a result of the accident, they should be included in your demand:
- Medical Expenses: The defendant should bear the cost of all medical expenses associated with your injuries, including doctor’s bills, hospital stays, prescription medication and ongoing care such as physical therapy.
- Lost Income: If you are forced to miss work or work a reduced schedule because of your injuries, include these lost wages in your damages demand.
- Property Damage: If your vehicle or other personal property was damaged in the accident, the defendant is responsible for repair or replacement.
- Emotional Distress: It is not uncommon for car accident victims to suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder after such a distressing event and should be compensated for this distress.
- Loss of Enjoyment: If your injuries keep you from activities that are an important part of your life, this loss is recoverable.
Your lawyer will involve economic and medical experts as needed to assess and validate our claim for recovery.
Strategies for Complete Recovery
Both the defendant and their insurance provider will be seeking to settle the matter for as little as possible. Even if you have an incredibly strong case, an insurance company will not pay sums that exceed the policyholder’s insurance limits.
If your injuries exceed the maximum amount of recovery under the defendant’s insurance policy, consider the following options:
- Seek recovery from multiple defendants. If multiple parties’ actions caused the accident, pursue each responsible party. They will be each be required to pay their share of the damages. For example, if a negligent driver caused the accident but an airbag failure caused more severe injuries, pursue the driver and the vehicle manufacturer.
- Exhaust all insurance policies. The most obvious insurance company to involve is the defendant’s auto insurance carrier. Be sure to probe whether the defendant has other insurance coverage such as an umbrella policy that would provide additional coverage for your injuries.
- Pursue the negligent driver directly. Securing recovery from the insurance provider is often the fastest and most reliable way to receive compensation after an accident, but the defendant is also personally responsible for their negligent actions. If you believe it makes sense after discussing with your attorney, you can file a lawsuit against the defendant.
- Watch out for insurance bad faith. Insurance providers have an obligation to make a good faith settlement of any claim. This includes a variety of obligations including sufficient investigation of the claim and timely and accurate communication with the claimant. Failure to meet this responsibility is insurance bad faith and prohibited by law.
It is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries after a car accident. The team at Gina Corena & Associates are dedicated to fighting for the rights of people who suffer life-changing injuries in car accidents and holding wrongdoers accountable. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident and are struggling to secure recovery, contact Gina M. Corena today to schedule a consultation.