What Happens if the Jury Awards Me More Than The Other Driver’s Policy Limits?
A little known fact relating to motor vehicle accident claims and lawsuits is that most car accident claims are driven by the insurance limits of the negligent driver’s insurance policy. The negligent motorist’s policy limits, rather than the severity of an accident victim’s injuries, often can define the settlement and trial value of a case from its very inception. This is why a motorist who is injured in a motor vehicle accident will often be forced to accept less than the full amount of his or her damages unless he or she hires an aggressive attorney who will not only pursue the negligent driver’s insurer, but the negligent driver him or herself for the victim’s injuries.
An aggressive attorney can often recover something from the negligent driver, even if it is not the full amount awarded by a jury in connection with a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, you should ensure that you hire an attorney to represent you in connection with a motor vehicle accident who will not leave any stone unturned in pursuing the negligent motorist who injured you so that you can recover the maximum amount possible to make you whole for your injuries.
A Concrete Example of How Insurance Policy Limits Can Dictate a Lawsuit’s Outcome
By way of example, say that a driver is driving home from work on I-95 in Palm Beach County one evening in stop and go traffic and is plowed into from behind by a driver who is texting and not paying attention. If the negligent driver has an auto liability policy with a limit of $100,000, for instance, the insurer is off the hook if it simply tenders the $100,000 before a lawsuit is filed. The same is true if the case goes to a trial and the jury returns a verdict against the driver and his or her insurer for $1,000,000. Of that $1,000,000, the driver’s insurer would only be responsible for the first $100,000, while the driver at fault would be on the hook for the remaining $900,000. Given that very few people have assets of that amount, many attorneys will not even bother to attempt to collect anything from the driver him or herself and will simply be content with pursuing the negligent driver’s insurer for whatever insurance money is available. Nonetheless, it often is possible (although difficult) to also obtain additional compensation from the negligent driver him or herself.
What Can My Lawyers Do if the Jury Awards Me More than the Other Driver’s Policy Limits in Damages?
To continue with the example above, the motorist would be on the hook for the remaining $900,000 the jury awarded to the accident victim. However, a jury verdict, or any judgment, is just a piece of paper. Collecting the $900,000 is a different story. Although the injured person may have a judgment stating that the motorist owes you $900,000, this does not mean that person will actually turn around and write a check for $900,000. Instead, it is up to your attorneys to collect whatever percentage or dollar amount of that $900,000 they can from that driver. This will usually be less than dollar for dollar recovery because both Florida state law as well as federal law provide protections for certain assets from collection to satisfy a judgment obtained in a lawsuit, like a home jointly owned with a spouse, any retirement accounts, or a certain portion of the negligent motorist’s paycheck. However, it is an often painstaking process that takes meticulous work in researching and locating the negligent motorist’s assets, and then using legal remedies to recover whatever money an attorney can for his or her injured client.
Contact Schwed Adams if You Have Been Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident in Florida
At Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley, our motor vehicle accident attorneys have extensive experience litigating on behalf of auto accident victims. Approximately 90 percent of the cases our firm handles involve auto accidents. In addition, our firm’s experienced personal injury attorneys have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing accident victims throughout Florida. Although some attorneys will simply take whatever the negligent motorist’s insurance policy limits are, we will fight to get every cent for our clients that we can, including, if appropriate, pursuing the negligent driver him or herself. If you or one of your loved ones have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, contact our firm today at email@example.com or by telephone at (877) 694-6079 for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.
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