If you have been injured by another driver's negligence, it leaves you in a very challenging position that can include facing a damaged (if not totaled) vehicle, physical injuries, mounting medical bills, lost earnings, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. This is in addition to being thrust into the position of needing to guide your car accident claim toward a favorable resolution that allows you to reach your fullest recovery. The question of how often do auto accident settlements exceed the policy limits may also be relevant, which means that the predicament you find yourself in (as a result of someone else's negligence) is both difficult and complicated. While you tend to the critical task of regaining your health and well-being, turn to the experienced Tennessee car accident attorneys at Labrum Law (615-338-9500) to help you skillfully address your legal concerns.
Your Car Accident Claim
Another motorist's negligence has caused you to be injured, and if the accident was serious, the damages (or losses) you have suffered can be considerable, including:
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Medical costs that, if your injuries lead to complications or secondary health concerns, can be ongoing
- Lost wages, which can lead to a decrease in your ability to earn overall
- The pain and suffering that attends being injured in a violent car accident
The sum of these damages can be exceptionally high, and you will address them in your car accident claim, which you will file with the at-fault party's car insurance company. This is where the question of how often do auto accident settlements exceed the policy limits comes into play, and if your damages do exceed these limits, your legal concerns can be that much more complicated.
Insurance Policies and Limits in the State of Tennessee
In the State of Tennessee, drivers are required to carry car insurance with the following coverage minimums:
- Every motorist must carry at least $15,000 in property damage coverage (per accident).
- Every motorist must carry at least $25,000 in coverage per injured party (or fatality).
- Every motorist must carry at least $50,000 in total coverage per accident.
For a serious car accident, these coverage minimums can be woefully inadequate to cover one's complete damages, which makes consulting with a dedicated Tennessee car accident attorney at Labrum Law well advised.
The Negligent Driver's Insurance Company
Car insurance companies are legally responsible for negotiating with car accident victims in good faith and for compensating their covered damages fairly. If the damages you have incurred clearly exceed the policy's limits but the insurance company is not maxing out your settlement (at those limits), it very well may be a sign that the insurance company is not operating in good faith. The insurance company is a for-profit enterprise that is naturally motivated to keep settlements as low as possible, but the law has mechanisms in place for defending your claim against bad-faith practices, and they include filing a lawsuit against the insurance company.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Insurance Company
If the insurance company filing your claim refuses to make a settlement offer at the policy limits and your damages have exceeded those limits, your best option may be a lawsuit against the car insurance company. If the jury hearing your case ultimately awards you more than the policy limits (and the insurance company is deemed not to have negotiated in good faith), the insurance company may have no recourse other than paying the full amount. Always remember, you have a right to fair and just compensation for your injuries under the law.
Additional Options for Victims
If the damages caused by the car accident in question exceed the policy limits of the insurance carried by the at-fault driver, your options for recovering your complete damages are not limited to just his or her insurance company. Ultimately, it is important to thoroughly examine the coverage options that may be available in your case and to ensure that you thoroughly exhaust these options in pursuit of just compensation that allows you to fully recover.
If a third party's negligence contributed to the accident that caused you to be injured, you may be able to seek damages via that third party. Examples include:
- The municipality responsible for a poorly maintained road
- The car or car parts manufacturer responsible for a faultily functioning vehicle
- A third driver whose negligence contributed to or exacerbated the injury-causing accident
The At-Fault Driver
If the policy limits of the insurance covering your damages are inadequate, you may be able to seek the remaining compensation owed by suing the at-fault driver directly. This is generally only doable if he or she has financial assets that are adequate to a judgment, but garnishing the defendant's wages or putting a lien on a property owned by him or her are possibilities. Further, the defendant in your case may carry an umbrella policy, which is insurance coverage that kicks in once a specific policy's limits are exceeded. These policies, however, are more common to commercial policyholders, such as trucking companies. If you find yourself considering filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, consider visiting with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Labrum Law to ensure your rights are protected through the process.
Your Own Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is intended for just this type of situation – when the at-fault driver's coverage limits are too low to cover your damages in their entirety. While Tennessee does not require drivers to carry underinsured motorist coverage, insurance carriers are required to offer it, and if you did not waive your right to this coverage, you may have a policy in place that can help.
Discuss Your Concerns with an Experienced Tennessee Car Accident Attorney Today
How often do auto accident settlements exceed the policy limits? Unfortunately, the answer is too often. If another driver's negligence leaves you with damages that exceed the motorist's policy limits, you have legal options available, and the thoughtful car accident attorneys at Labrum Law – proudly serving Middle Tennessee – dedicate their practice to helping clients like you explore their best options and fully recover on their damages. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 615-338-9500 for more information today.