Money judgment: Can someone get one against me?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/05/2008 - 02:03

Dear all, nice to have found this forum.

I have a serious question that I need your advise.

I was involved in a car accident recently and there were severe damage on my car and the other driver's car, the other driver also reported severe personal injury to both my insurance company and their own insurance company. I am thinking at I may be at-fault, but need to wait for adjuster's final investigation.

I have full insurance coverage, my liability coverage for personal injury is 30000 per person and 60000 per accident and my liability coverage for car damage is 25000.

But the other driver hired a lawyer saying that my liability coverage for both personal injury and car damage will not be enough, I think they are planning to sue me and ask for a lot of money, I am worried if they could get a money judgment against me and execute against my property, I have bank accounts, salaries, and a house under my name and my title, will they be able to get additional money from me by execute against my bank accounts, salaries, my house?

Thank you.

Posted: 05 Mar 2008 06:14 Post Subject:

Dear Linda,

This is exactly the situation of a ball-by-ball game watch!
You need to be patient (though I know that its not that easy under the present circumstances).
The first thing that you should do is to seek the help of your carrier & ask them to guide you under the circumstances. Also, don't forget to keep us informed about each step that the other party undertakes. I'd be eagerly waiting whether the verdict goes against you as the party-at-fault!

Keep us fed regarding the money judgment proceedings if any..Plasticmind

Posted: 05 Mar 2008 06:55 Post Subject:

I have full insurance coverage, my liability coverage for personal injury is 30000 per person and 60000 per accident and my liability coverage for car damage is 25000.


See, I believe if he has maintained a comprehensive cov. then his carrier should be the one he ought to be looking for his compensation. On the otherhand, if he has maintained any Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, that should come into play after the maximum value for your policy is achieved by him eg.

Suppose his total damage for his car is worth $50,000. So, he would achieve $25,000 from your policy benefits & the rest $(50,000 - 25,000)= $25,000 could be revived through his UMI. Am I right?

Regards, Plasmahectic

Posted: 05 Mar 2008 06:58 Post Subject:

Hi Linda...I do understand your concerns regarding your bank accounts, your home & other personal assets..but you need to hold on for some time..rest assured that in today's world the insurance carriers are too clever to let money spill out. According to them NO-ONE is 100% AT-FAULT!!!
Wish, that explains the the rest to follow!
RomaC

Posted: 05 Mar 2008 07:15 Post Subject: Getting money judgment is not easy

Lemme assure you first that getting a money judgment against someone isn't that easy. Hence, I agree with the other poster that you need to be a patient watcher of the game. You should consult both your insurer and an attorney to decide the future course of action. Its the insurance company's responsibility to protect the interest of their client. Otherwise, they can face the bad faith action from you.

You haven't mentioned what your insurance company has agreed to pay. Its a very important information that's missing in the post. However, lemme conclude by saying that turn the lawsuit immediately to your insurer. You have insurance on your car and your insurer is responsible to cover you fully through the lawsuit and obtain the release form all the liability certificate for you.

Is UIM coverage a requirement in your state?

Do keep us informed and wait for more responses. Good luck!

Posted: 05 Mar 2008 11:24 Post Subject: Money judgment: Can someone get one against me?

Good morning Linda and welcome...I certainly understand your fear about money judgment and other things...but ''maybe'' everything is going to be ok...The one tip off that makes me think that 'possibly' the other party has UIM (UNDER insured motorist) is that you say their atty maintains your limits are too low..Also attorneys ALWAYS over exaggerate a claim, just because they 'say' you don't have high enough limits does not make it so.

Let's start there, first as soon as you can raise your own limits because they are too low...yes it is possible for someone to get an 'excess' judgment and come after your property, easy now girl...it rarely happens...especially if there is UIM on the other side. It is your carriers duty to settle the claims against you 'within' your limits....more than likely what will happen is just that your carrier will secure releases under your PD and BI coverages for the coverage limits then the other party will go to their carrier for their own UIM limits....

First the investigation needs to be completed and liablity determined...Couple of questions, what state are you in? what type of vehicle was this other party driving (25k is a 'decent' amount of PD coverage) what were the fact of loss? What is your carrier saying re: liablity, and limits? How does the other party know what your limits are? Answer these and we will be able to be of more assistance....

Also

Am I right?

no Plasmahectic, you are not...first

I believe if he has maintained a comprehensive cov. then his carrier should be the one he ought to be looking for his compensation

It would be 'collision'' coverage not comprehensive that would cover the vehicle....and the UIM only (not UM) would cover the injury if it is indeed a limits issue.

Posted: 05 Mar 2008 10:24 Post Subject:

In addition to what Lori mentioned, please keep in mind that your carrier won't pay _anything_ out of court unless the other party agrees to accept that amount and not pursue the claim any further. Also, a plaintiff attorney's time is money. The more time they spend on a case, the less they make. A money judgment is not worth a whole lot and the attorney would probably never be able to collect on it. So what good is it to the attorney to spend weeks and several _thousands_ of dollars just to get a lien? 99.999999% of the time they will simply take 1/3 of the $30k and move on. But this is even assuming that this _is_ a policy limits case. As Lori mentioned, I've never seen attorneys ask for less then 10 x to 100x what a claim should settle for in their initial demand. It's just their way of playing a game (they are required to make the 1st demand, which puts them at a disadvantage... so they simply ask for the sky. Why would they ask for something less. Think about that). So of course the plaintiff attorney is going to tell everyone that it's a limits case... it's just posturing.

If the other person owns a vehicle worth $25k then they probably have a lien and if so, have collision insurance. Most people with a $25k vehicle will have collision insurance even if they don't have a lien. As such, they can simply file their property damage claim under their own policy and they will then simply transfer their right of recovery for that damage to their carrier... who won't file suit.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008 02:01 Post Subject:

Dear all, thanks a lot for answering my money judgment query.

from Amazon-hunter,

You should consult both your insurer and an attorney to decide the future course of action



Will my insurance company protect me with the insurance company's lawyer or do I also need to get my own lawyer, I don't think I can afford a lawyer myself?

from Lori,

The one tip off that makes me think that 'possibly' the other party has UIM (UNDER insured motorist) is that you say their atty maintains your limits are too low


How can I know if the other party has UIM? Who should I ask?

Let's start there, first as soon as you can raise your own limits because they are too low


Could you please advise a more proper limits that I should have for my own auto insurance?

easy now girl...it rarely happens...especially if there is UIM on the other side. It is your carriers duty to settle the claims against you 'within' your limits....more than likely what will happen is just that your carrier will secure releases under your PD and BI coverages for the coverage limits then the other party will go to their carrier for their own UIM limits....


Sorry, I am a little confused here, if my carrier could settle the claims against me "within" my limits, but if the other party go to their carrier for ther own UIM limits, will the other party's carrier subro against me later on, if the other party's subro against me later on, but my carrier has already used up my limits, then will the other party be able to subro against my properties and assets?
and worse things is that if the other party does not have UIM, what will happen? will the other party and their lawyer come after my property and assets then?

Couple of questions, what state are you in? what type of vehicle was this other party driving (25k is a 'decent' amount of PD coverage) what were the fact of loss? What is your carrier saying re: liablity, and limits? How does the other party know what your limits are? Answer these and we will be able to be of more assistance....


I am in California, the other party is a lexus, the loss of the other car seems severe to me, because it was a change line issue and both of us was driving in high speed on the freeway so the impact was severe. my adjuster just said that they will investigate more, as to how the other party know what my limits are, I am concerned myself as well, I really don't know how they got my information?

from tcope,

As such, they can simply file their property damage claim under their own policy and they will then simply transfer their right of recovery for that damage to their carrier... who won't file suit.


like my previous concern, if the other party file their property damage claim under their own collision coverage, will the other party's carrier subro against me later on, if the other party's subro against me later on, but my carrier has already used up my limits, then will the other party be able to subro against my properties and assets?

I heard that I could also add Umbrella Liability insurance on top of my auto liability insurance for extra protection, can I still add it now, or it is already too late? and if I could still add the Umbrella Liability insurance, is it recommended that I do so?

Also, I have homeowners liability insurance on my homeowners insurance, will my homeowners liability insurance protect my home if the other party finally got lawsuit judgment to execute against my home?

I also heard that there are some ways for asset protection such as transfer your home, bank accounts, etc. into a living trust, Limited Liability Company, and/or Family Limited Partnership, is it recommended that I do so or since I already have a claim against me, it is already too late for me to do anything to protect my property and assets?

Thanks a lot. :(

Posted: 06 Mar 2008 03:05 Post Subject:

Sorry, I am a little confused here, if my carrier could settle the claims against me "within" my limits, but if the other party go to their carrier for ther own UIM limits, will the other party's carrier subro against me later on, if the other party's subro against me later on, but my carrier has already used up my limits, then will the other party be able to subro against my properties and assets?

GREAT question! In order for your carrier to pay your BI limits, they would require the other person's carrier to submit a waiver of recovery. That is, they agree not to pursue recovery of any amount they pay under their UMBI coverage. Usually the UMBI carrier will simply run an assets check on you and unless they find out you have a few houses or a million in the bank, will complete the waiver.

like my previous concern, if the other party file their property damage claim under their own collision coverage, will the other party's carrier subro against me later on, if the other party's subro against me later on, but my carrier has already used up my limits, then will the other party be able to subro against my properties and assets?

Nope... and situation. Your carrier will offer your limits and they other carrier will need to sign a property damage release in order to collect them. That release means they agree to settle for the money your carrier is paying. It would cost the other carrier more money to try to collect anything from you. Better that they just accept the large $25k payment from your carrier and move on. It's a business decision for them.

I heard that I could also add Umbrella Liability insurance on top of my auto liability insurance for extra protection, can I still add it now, or it is already too late? and if I could still add the Umbrella Liability insurance, is it recommended that I do so?

It would not apply to this situation. Do you have a million dollars in assets to protect? It's unlikely that you have enough assets that anyone would want to forgo collecting the money from your carrier to pursue. If anything, you might want to consider raising the liability limits of your auto policy. It would be fairly inexpensive as higher limits don't get much more expensive.

Also, I have homeowners liability insurance on my homeowners insurance, will my homeowners liability insurance protect my home if the other party finally got lawsuit judgment to execute against my home?

No, two completely different animals.

Posted: 06 Mar 2008 11:35 Post Subject:

tcope has answered your questions except the limits one....as you see now 25k Property Damage is not high enough...I personally carry 100k, most could be by with 50k...think of it this way, what if for some reason, you hit one car, sending it into a house? All your fault? You cause 60k in damage? See my point? (actually you see the point in your own claim if the other vehicle damage is over 25k)...same with your BI limits...they (in my opinion) are way too low, 30k per person and 60k per accident is just not enough not given what medical costs are today and jury awards! :roll: I would carry a min. off 100/300k....again with my scenrio of you hitting a car that then goes into a house, lets say there are six people in that car and all are hurt! The way your policy sets now you have to divide that 60k between them meaning 10k each! Not even close to the protection you need.

Please feel free to ask any questions as you go thru this process...do not attempt to hide your assets it rarely ever comes to anything like you are fearing (an excess judgement) unless as tcope said, you are a 'ga-zillionaire' or something.... :wink:

Also since you said it is a lane change issue, could be that you will not be held 100% at fault either! :) Please let us know how you are doing and the liabilitly determination, try to not get too worried your carrier is there to take care of and protect you from any such money judgment ...oh yes, your carrier (if need should arise) would hire/pay an attorney to defend you...

Posted: 06 Mar 2008 10:26 Post Subject:

I did not answer the limits question as there is no way to give a good answer, IMHO. I have a friend who does not have a pot to piss in. He carries the minimum limits (10k PD). If he's involved in a $20k PD accident, what is the other party going to do? I'm not trying to sound mean or recommend lower limits but liability limits are meant to protect the insured... not the people who suffered the loss. If the states thought those people should be protected then they should raise the minimum limits (and I think most states should).

So, if I rent an apartment, drive a 1989 Kia and live paycheck to paycheck, should I have 100k limits? Perhaps not. Each person needs to figure that out for themselves.

It's also another good reason to have collision and UMBI :)

BTW - my friend is actually doing much better for himself now. :)

Posted: 07 Mar 2008 11:12 Post Subject:

I did not answer the limits question as there is no way to give a good answer, IMHO. I have a friend who does not have a pot to piss in. He carries the minimum limits (10k PD). If he's involved in a $20k PD accident, what is the other party going to do? I'm not trying to sound mean or recommend lower limits but liability limits are meant to protect the insured... not the people who suffered the loss. If the states thought those people should be protected then they should raise the minimum limits (and I think most states should).

I guess if a person choses to risk a portion of the future paychecks that's certainly their right, once they know the facts...to me, I'm not going to hang my hat or hopes on the fact that an insurance company may not hire a collection agency to get a judgement (that they are entitled to) and garnish my wages for the rest of my life no matter how meger those wages are....The company I used to work for (I started as a subro specialist in 1987)....we routinely did this on ALL subro claims, why? because it didn't cost us anything really...the collection agency took a percentage, and their philosophy was 50 cents on a dollar was still 50 cents......it's a personal choice and as I said, I wouldn't trust that they would automatically right off the loss....I do agree with you that most (if not all) state limits are WAY WAY too low...

Posted: 07 Mar 2008 11:45 Post Subject:

Dear All, thanks a lot for helping and sharing your expertise.

Is there a way that I could know if the other driver has UIM and/or collision coverage?

I am just an average working person with average paycheck and average savings in bank accounts and retirement accounts, but I am most worried about my house, actually the house was my parents', but they transferred the title to my name only, the house itself is over a million in value, but that was everything my parents' saved over their life, plus since I am in California, the value of the house has raised quite a bit in California, I am really worried that the other party's lawyer could get a money judgment against me and execute against my house, I really want to protect my parents' hard savings over their life.

With this kind of situation, is asset protection such as transferring my home, bank accounts, etc. into a living trust, Limited Liability Company, and/or Family Limited Partnership recommended? But since I already have a claim against me, it is already too late for me to do anything to protect my property and assets?

In your professional experiences, have you actually seen anyone lost their home and/or assets due to car accidents lawsuits or excess judgments?

I heard from some friends saying that those lawyers have a very high success rate in winning these kind of excess judgment lawsuits? is that true? I am worried.

I am a little confused with the difference between adding an Umbrella Liability insurance on top of my auto liability insurance for extra protection and just raising the liability limits of my auto policy? Which one is better and provides better protection? which one do you recommend?

can I still add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits now? or it is already too late since I have a claim pending investigation?

If it is already too late for me to either add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits now, when will I be able to do so?

How much more does it usually cost to add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits to like Lori recommended 100k/300/100k?

Although tcope mentioned that

It would be fairly inexpensive as higher limits don't get much more expensive.



But I was thinking, since my premium will go up anyways if I am at-fault, adding Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits will likely to add even more to my premium, maybe to an extent that is too expensive for me, I am not really sure if I am right, please advise?

Best, Linda

Posted: 07 Mar 2008 12:29 Post Subject:

Your state only requires 15/30 BI and 5k PD limits...no UM or UIM are required...Don't know how you would 'find' out if they have UIM....Your adjuster might be able to get this information, I don't know what the rules or regulations are regarding your states limits/coverage disclosure....I would bet they have collision coverage...do you know the year/make/model of the vehicle? See, there are quite a few things that we must understand before we talk about money judgment.

But since I already have a claim against me, it is already too late for me to do anything to protect my property and assets?

It would be too late if this were an option on this claim...it would go to the ownership on the date of loss..I really don't think you are going to have to worry about it though..What EXACTLY do you know about the damages to the vehicle and injuries? How much (monetarily) damage is there to the car? What are the injuries claimed? Was there only one person in the car? What did the police report say?

In your professional experiences, have you actually seen anyone lost their home and/or assets due to car accidents lawsuits or excess judgments?

No I have not never not one time...I have seen excess judgements and garnishments...but never seen anyone lose their homes etc..(been at this since 1987)...

I heard from some friends saying that those lawyers have a very high success rate in winning these kind of excess judgment lawsuits? is that true? I am worried.

I know you're worried try hard not to be...you have every reason to be a little worried, but remember you company's job is to settle these claims 'within' your limits...they won't pay a nickel unless they can get a release signed which protects you from an excess judgement...in other words (in all cases I've been involved with)...your carrier would force the other party to file suit, rather than just had over your limits without a release...most claimants will accept policy limits and get on with their lives...you have to remember too that your carrier doesn't want you to file suit against them for bad faith if they don't protect you...let me explain...if your carrier just went, 'ok here's our limits have a good day....'
(no release) thus opening you up to an excess judgement then you would have a lawsuit against your own carrier for not protecting you and doing all they could to gain a release...see? re: your quote, I don't know the stats on success rates, but I'd bet this isn't correct, because they are not filed that often.....unless there is another 'deep pocket' somewhere...that a claimant attorney needs that judgement to get into....Let's not forget we don't know A) if you will be found 100% liable for the accident, or B) if it's even an excess claim right?

can I still add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits now? or it is already too late since I have a claim pending investigation?

You can but it will not have any affect on this claim at all...it will only benefit you (maybe) from the date you add/change your limits...it's not retro...you can change your limits buy a policy etc...any time you want...just won't have any bearing on this claim at hand.

How much more does it usually cost to add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits to like Lori recommended 100k/300/100k?

I really don't know there are too many variables you'll need to talk to your agent/company about that....there is no way for us to know this...just call and ask how much will my premium increase if I raise these limits to 50/50/100, and 100/100/300k, to get an idea...I really don't have much experience at all with the umbrellas, and am not positive that they can come into play on an auto claim...(i kind of think they don't) hopefully another with more experience with those types of claims will weigh in.

But I was thinking, since my premium will go up anyways if I am at-fault, adding Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits will likely to add even more to my premium, maybe to an extent that is too expensive for me, I am not really sure if I am right, please advise?

Well more than likely your rates will increase anyway if you are at fault, the extent? I don't know (another question for your agent) couple of things, first they cannot raise them till your renewal...then also what is your collision and comp deductible? The higher the deductible the less the premium so if you are carrying low deducts then you might look at raising them to help off set the increase...

Linda, if you'd like tell us what exactly happened in the accident, we may be able to put some of your fears at rest....have you heard from your adjuster?

We're here for any questions....please try hard not to worry too much until you know you have something to worry about! :wink: (i know easier said than done) :roll:

Posted: 08 Mar 2008 07:45 Post Subject:

I guess if a person choses to risk a portion of the future paychecks that's certainly their right, once they know the facts

But baring a money judgment, the adverse carrier would not see a dime from the OP's carrier. What would you do... take $10k on a $20k loss or roll the dice that you _might_ be able to collect all the money from the OP? How much would it cost you to possibly collect this money over the period of 5 or 10 years? Also, I don't know of any state where an insurance company can garnish wages. About the best they can hope for is a suspension of the person's DL.

I'm not saying it's fine to have low limits... only that there are other things to consider.

Posted: 08 Mar 2008 01:55 Post Subject:

Also, I don't know of any state where an insurance company can garnish wages. About the best they can hope for is a suspension of the person's DL.

As in nearly any suit that a carrier is paying bill ulitmately (other than bad faith etc of course)...the suit is actually filed in the insured's name, then of course the subro clause kicks in....I handled many claims/suits that were filed and judgements entered then the garnishment attached, (I'm speaking of purely subro here not excess)....You're right it's not often that something like this would happen (excess)...I personally just wouldn't take the risk that it 'might'...also (IMO) kind of dirty pool too...if a person knowingly (not saying you are suggesting this tcope) takes 10k limits out hurts someone that has 50k in damages, and cavalierly thinks, ''oh well''...(assuming the other party doesn't have UIM of course)....something smells about that....how would it feel if the shoe were on the other foot? And again, there is always the possiblity of an excess judgement....scares me.....and I ain't scared of too much! :wink:

Posted: 12 Mar 2008 01:13 Post Subject:

Dear Lori and tcope, thanks again for helping.

What EXACTLY do you know about the damages to the vehicle and injuries? How much (monetarily) damage is there to the car? What are the injuries claimed? Was there only one person in the car? What did the police report say?



This never happened to me before, so I really don't have a clue as to how much monetarily damage is there to the other car, I really don't know what went on with myself on the day of the accident, I was trying to change line, I checked to see if it was safe to change to the other line as I always do, but......just in a second of time....I slammed hard onto the side of the other car, to me, the other car's side seems to have severe damage, there was the driver, another passenger, and a dog in the car, I was scared to death and did not say much at the scene except for changing information, the other driver did mention that they had pain all over, felt dizzy, sick, etc. and I am not sure if I mis-heard or mis-understood that one of them was pregnant or not? I was very scared at that time. The police report did not say much, just a description of what happened.

I have seen excess judgements and garnishments...but never seen anyone lose their homes etc..(been at this since 1987)...



Do you mind if you can explain how an excess judgment and garnishments works? I am not sure if I am right, but I heard that if you get a garnishment against you, the garnishment can include garnishing both your wages and other properties, such as your home, then I will still lose my home, right? I am not sure if I am right or wrong?


)...your carrier would force the other party to file suit, rather than just had over your limits without a release...



Sorry, I don't really understand this part as to why my carrier would force the other party to file suit against me? could you please help to explain, sorry that I am not very knowledgeable.


.....unless there is another 'deep pocket' somewhere...that a claimant attorney needs that judgement to get into....



Is there any examples as to what kind of "deep pockets" the claimant attorney is looking for?


As in nearly any suit that a carrier is paying bill ulitmately (other than bad faith etc of course)...the suit is actually filed in the insured's name, then of course the subro clause kicks in....I handled many claims/suits that were filed and judgements entered then the garnishment attached, (I'm speaking of purely subro here not excess)....



Sorry, I think I don't understand this part as well, "the suit is actually filed in the insured's name, then of course the subro clause kicks in....I handled many claims/suits that were filed and judgements entered then the garnishment attached, (I'm speaking of purely subro here not excess)" does that mean the insured actually lost the lawsuits and therefore has a garnishment against the insured?


...also (IMO) kind of dirty pool too...


What is IMO?

Thank you for your time and in sharing your expertise

Posted: 12 Mar 2008 04:47 Post Subject:

Hi Linda, I'm sure Lori and tcope will soon be back to answer your questions. Hence, I'm refraining myself form answering the technicalities of your case. I'll only answer the following question of yours. :D

What is IMO?



It means In My Opinion. Similarly, IMHO implies In My Honest Opinion. Its something typical of the forums to write like this. Hope that explains.

Thanks,
Carol

Posted: 12 Mar 2008 10:50 Post Subject:

I checked to see if it was safe to change to the other line as I always do, but

More than likely the other vehicle was in your 'blind spot' or maybe they were changing lanes as well...(?)...these type of accidents happen alot..as to the damage to the other vehicle...you need to call your adjuster and ask them how much are the damages, have you decided I was 100% at fault, and have you made arrangements to fix their vehicle...

The police report did not say much, just a description of what happened

Did the police report show the area (on the road) of the impact? meaning was it in your lane, other lane, or on the line? did it say that you were at fault? did you get a ticket? If you look hard there should be a box or area on the report that says something like, ''probably contributing circumstances'...also is there a 'narrative' not what you or the other party said, but what the cop said, generally also there will be a 'number' (there is a key on the report as well telling what the numbers mean) indicating injuries...see if you can find that too..also ask you adjuster are they injured? if so what are their injuries...etc...

Do you mind if you can explain how an excess judgment and garnishments works?

If and that's a huge ''if'' an excess judgement would be awarded (and really really really I don't think you have anything to worry about), especially with the discription of injuries, (or lack ) meaning no one was bleeding and rushed to the hospital in ambulances uncon......if an excess judgement were awarded, (lets say 10k over your coverage) any time there is a monetary judgement then the person holding that judgement has to try and collect it, they can file for a garnishment against your wages, so say there was a 10k judgement they could file this garnishment and get a set amount from each of your pay checks till it was satisfied (that 10k paid) most states only allow a certain percentage of your check to be taken....again...I seriously doubt anything even close to this will happen...

I am not sure if I am right, but I heard that if you get a garnishment against you, the garnishment can include garnishing both your wages and other properties, such as your home, then I will still lose my home, right? I am not sure if I am right or wrong?

I suppose Linda that this 'may' be possible many states protect a persons home, especially if there is another avenue of collection (ie pay check garnishment)...I have never ever in my life seen anyone lose there home for ANY type of judgement...(other than bankrupt, or foreclosures)......please honey try hard not to worry about your house, I can all but guarantee you that this won't happen....(even an excess judgement period is very very unlikely).....

Sorry, I don't really understand this part as to why my carrier would force the other party to file suit against me? could you please help to explain, sorry that I am not very knowledgeable

Don't apologize, it's very hard to understand, and besides that's what we try and do here! (explain things!) :wink: You're carriers job is to PROTECT you that is what your policy is all about...they would in no way just hand over your limits, WITHOUT a full release (in other words PREVENTING the other person from filing ANY type of suit against you)....to do that would not be protecting you and your interests thus opening your carrier up to a suit filed by you against them for their not adequtely protecting you...so if a situation got to that point, where the other party would not accept your limits, and sign a release, (them wanting limits and no release) your carrier would make them file suit, and your carrier would defend it for you...(all suits like this auto accidents, you can't sue the insurance company you have to sue the party, then the carrier has to pay the judgement)....please don't hesitate if you still don't understand, and I'll try again, it is really hard to understand....I agree....again, the chances of this happening are probably a million to one! As I said, this doesn't sound like an excess claim to me at all at this point...if the damage is all the way down the sides, (better than front hit), do you mean both doors, 1/4 and fender? Where they able to open the doors on the damaged side? Was the vehicle towed? Was there any fluids leaking that you could see? again ask your rep about these damages

....Is there any examples as to what kind of "deep pockets" the claimant attorney is looking for?

Sure, if that umbrella policy were in play (doubt it), or if you had a 'gazillion' dollars in the bank, a huge trust fund, etc

..."the suit is actually filed in the insured's name, then of course the subro clause kicks in....I handled many claims/suits that were filed and judgements entered then the garnishment attached, (I'm speaking of purely subro here not excess)" does that mean the insured actually lost the lawsuits and therefore has a garnishment against the insured

Like I said above when there is a suit filed (except bad faith against your own carrier), the suits have to be filed in the 'participants' names, not the insurance company, if i have a wreck with 'joe blow bad driver' and he won't pay to fix my car or his insurance company says he was not at fault, i must sue joe blow, i cannot sue joe blows insurance company, however behind the scenes joe blows insurance carrier is paying all the defense bills to fight my suit....then if i win my suit, his carrier would have to pay me that judgement (or of course appeal blah blah)....when i say 'subro claused kicked in or speaking of subro only' that means, again same thing with joe blow, this time joe blow is uninsured, and i got tired of waiting on joe to pay me (or if he's insured his stupid insurance company) so i had my car fixed under my collision coverage (my company paid minus my deductible) once they make payment the subrogation claus kicks in (they have a right to attempt to recover this money from the at fault party) so they (in my name) sue joe blow, get a judgement, and then garnish joe blows pay checks till the judgement is satisfied (assuming joe doesn't just pay it)...clear as mud isn't it? :roll:

Linda, call your rep and have a nice long conversation about what is going on with your claim....have you got a letter saying that there 'may' be an policy limit or excess problem? Have you repaired your vehicle? How much damage was there to it?

Please let us know and we'll continue to try and help you through this please don't hestiate to ask ANYTHING...there are no dumb questions...and please please please try hard not to worry about this...as i said your company's job is to protect you !

Posted: 13 Mar 2008 11:48 Post Subject:

Dear Lori,

Thank you very much for your kindness and for sharing those valuable information, it is really comforting talking to you on the forum, and it is really nice to have someone like you to guide us through these tough days. I wish my adjuster and the other carrier's adjuster were like you, nice and friendly.

I did call my adjuster, but was told that they are still investigating and they have a lot of cases to work on, they will let me know when they are more into the investigation.

Did the police report show the area (on the road) of the impact? meaning was it in your lane, other lane, or on the line?


Sorry, where can I find this part? I don't see it on the report?

did it say that you were at fault? did you get a ticket? If you look hard there should be a box or area on the report that says something like, ''probably contributing circumstances'...


I did not get a ticket, I am shocked to hear this, I did not know that police issue traffic tickets in a car accident situation, I am lucky that I did not get one, I would have been really sad if I did get a ticket, but the police report said that I was intending to change line and caused the accident, is that what I should be looking for?

......if an excess judgement were awarded, (lets say 10k over your coverage) any time there is a monetary judgement then the person holding that judgement has to try and collect it, they can file for a garnishment against your wages


If, I mean only if an excess judgment were against me, like in your example, 10k over my coverage limits, will my insurance carrier still hire a lawyer to fight for me and protect me, or I will be on my own since it is 10k over my coverage limits?

I was just thinking that medical expenses are so expensive that some simple check up or physical exam will add up to a large medical bill, and if, I mean if the medical bill do exceed my liability limits, how will my insurance carrier protect me? will my insurance carrier still protect me?
I remember you mentioned in a previous post that "...if a person knowingly (not saying you are suggesting this tcope) takes 10k limits out hurts someone that has 50k in damages, and cavalierly thinks, ''oh well''.."
So I was just thinking, in this kind of situation, how will my insurance carrier protect me? will my insurance carrier still protect me?

...if the damage is all the way down the sides, (better than front hit), do you mean both doors, 1/4 and fender?


I believe the damage is all the way down the sides, but I am not really sure what is "1/4 and fender"? Dear Lori, why is it better than front hit?

Sure, if that umbrella policy were in play (doubt it), or if you had a 'gazillion' dollars in the bank, a huge trust fund, etc


Do you mean that if I got an umbrella policy, I will put myself even more at risk for being a target of lawsuits because of the high policy limits?


if i have a wreck with 'joe blow bad driver' and he won't pay to fix my car or his insurance company says he was not at fault, i must sue joe blow, i cannot sue joe blows insurance company,


In this situation, when you sue joe blow, does that mean your insurance carrier will actually sue joe blow in your name? or you have to hire your own lawyer to sue joe blow all on your own?

so i had my car fixed under my collision coverage (my company paid minus my deductible) once they make payment the subrogation claus kicks in (they have a right to attempt to recover this money from the at fault party) so they (in my name) sue joe blow, get a judgement, and then garnish joe blows pay checks till the judgement is satisfied (assuming joe doesn't just pay it)..


Sorry, I am still confused a bit here, so if your insurance carrier sue joe blow in your name, got a judgment, shouldn't joe blow's insurance carrier fight back for joe blow and if joe blow's insurance carrier loses the suit, shouldn't joe blow's insurance carrier be paying you the judgment? if so, joe blow will not get a judgment with garnishment attached, right? hope you can understand my question, I hope I am clear :oops:

....have you got a letter saying that there 'may' be an policy limit or excess problem? Have you repaired your vehicle? How much damage was there to it?


I did not get a letter, but the other driver's insurance company called me for a statement after the accident and the person who called me told me that the other party is very unhappy about the accident and is seeking the help of a lawyer.
My adjuster said that they will schedule an estimate appointment for my car and will let me know soon.

I also read several other posts on this forum which are all very helpful as well, but I read from a post that someone asked when the at fault party's insurance carrier issued a payment to the other party who is seeking payment, does the at fault party's insurance carrier also need to obtain a property damage release from the other party who received the payment, the answer was "... your carrier should either obtain a property damage release (almost no carrier will bother with this) or handle anything else that comes up. " But if "(almost no carrier will bother with this)", how can our own insurance carrier protect us from PREVENTING the other person from filing ANY type of suit against us? I am confused again. :oops:

Thank you very much for your kindness and have a great day. :D

Posted: 13 Mar 2008 12:25 Post Subject:

I did call my adjuster, but was told that they are still investigating and they have a lot of cases to work on, they will let me know when they are more into the investigation.


This is good if they are indeed actively investigating..(rather than just swamped and told you this...sorry it happens)....there is the distinct possiblity that you won't be found 100% at fault...which is great...let's keep our fingers crossed on that one!

Sorry, where can I find this part? I don't see it on the report?

No I"M sorry I should've told you if there is a diagram that the officer drew it should show there where on the roadway the impact occured...

I am shocked to hear this, I did not know that police issue traffic tickets in a car accident situation

sure they do that's a big part of their job....

I was intending to change line and caused the accident, is that what I should be looking for?

yep, darn it.... :cry: sounds like you'll more than likely be at fault unless it says the other vehicle also was changing lanes? do I dare to hope? :wink:

If, I mean only if an excess judgment were against me, like in your example, 10k over my coverage limits, will my insurance carrier still hire a lawyer to fight for me and protect me, or I will be on my own since it is 10k over my coverage limits?

More than likely yes, they would still defend it....(based on the injury and damages you have discribed) they would discuss this with you and get your opinion...but on a claim of this size (small or minor injuries it sounds like) they would more than likley defend it...

I mean if the medical bill do exceed my liability limits, how will my insurance carrier protect me? will my insurance carrier still protect me?

Absolutely! they will protect you by doing everything they can (including defending a lawsuit) to get a release signed for within your limits (barring the other party from filing an excess suit against you)...

I remember you mentioned in a previous post that "...if a person knowingly (not saying you are suggesting this tcope) takes 10k limits out hurts someone that has 50k in damages, and cavalierly thinks, ''oh well''.."
So I was just thinking, in this kind of situation, how will my insurance carrier protect me? will my insurance carrier still protect me?

This doesn't pertain in your situation, we (adjusters) get off on philisophical discussions sometimes, and that is all that was...put that out of your mind...(sorry if I confused you)....

I believe the damage is all the way down the sides, but I am not really sure what is "1/4 and fender"?

the fender is the panel in front of the front door, the 1/4 is the panel behind the rear door...

Dear Lori, why is it better than front hit?

front end hits typcially cost a lot more to repair than side swipes in a front end you have all the cooling, innerstructure, not to mention air bags...just costs more to repair front end hit than side, (generally speaking).....

Do you mean that if I got an umbrella policy, I will put myself even more at risk for being a target of lawsuits because of the high policy limits?

no, that's not what I meant (i'm really adding to your confusion rather than helping elimanate it aren't I? I'm so sorry)..you ask what other types of 'deep pockets' there might be...

In this situation, when you sue joe blow, does that mean your insurance carrier will actually sue joe blow in your name?

EXACTLY! I think you've got it! your carrier would be paying all the legal expenses as well. (if you used your collision coverage)...

or you have to hire your own lawyer to sue joe blow all on your own?.

NO, unless you didn't have insurance coverage yourself...or no insurance company paid for the damage...then of course it's just two people fighting it out in court...

Sorry, I am still confused a bit here, so if your insurance carrier sue joe blow in your name, got a judgment, shouldn't joe blow's insurance carrier fight back for joe blow and if joe blow's insurance carrier loses the suit, shouldn't joe blow's insurance carrier be paying you the judgment?

Yes you are absolutely correct 'if' joe is insured, if not this is the way it would work (garnishment etc if necessary

)...if so, joe blow will not get a judgment with garnishment attached, right?

correct! the judgement would still be against joe, but his carrier would satisfy the judgement (thus no garnishment etc) again if he is insured...

I did not get a letter, but the other driver's insurance company called me for a statement after the accident and the person who called me told me that the other party is very unhappy about the accident and is seeking the help of a lawyer.

Ok, well this isn't so bad then...many times people run out and get a lawyer at the first 'bump'...don't be surprised if you get a letter from these peoples attorney saying the atty is representing them, and they want a million dollars...just call your carrier and get the letter to them, they will handle it from there....DO NOT EVEN SAY HELLO to their attorney, you should have absolutely zero contact with that attorney or anyone attempting to get any information from you on their behalf...(ok that you talked to their adjuster) just don't give the (other) adjuster any information regarding your policy limits, or assets etc...(very doubtful the adjuster would ask but ''some'' attorneys can be kind of sneaky and try to intimidate people)...if their attorney would for some reason contact you, just give them your adjusters number...(really doubt they will just giving you a heads up)...

other party is very unhappy about the accident

who is every HAPPY that they had an accident? :roll:

My adjuster said that they will schedule an estimate appointment for my car and will let me know soon

Is your car driveable? How long ago did this happen? Who is your carrier? I'm thinking it may be taking longer than it should...

I also read several other posts on this forum which are all very helpful as well, but I read from a post that someone asked when the at fault party's insurance carrier issued a payment to the other party who is seeking payment, does the at fault party's insurance carrier also need to obtain a property damage release from the other party who received the payment, the answer was "... your carrier should either obtain a property damage release (almost no carrier will bother with this) or handle anything else that comes up. " But if "(almost no carrier will bother with this)", how can our own insurance carrier protect us from PREVENTING the other person from filing ANY type of suit against us? I am confused again.

I can see your confusion, most of the time property damage claims we don't get releases, BUT BUT BUT if there was an excess problem, then there definately would be a release taken....most of the time that isn't an issue....in your case, ''if'' it is an issue your company would secure a p.d. release as well.

Thank you very much for your kindness and for sharing those valuable information, it is really comforting talking to you on the forum, and it is really nice to have someone like you to guide us through these tough days. I wish my adjuster and the other carrier's adjuster were like you, nice and friendly.

I'm glad we can provide some information and more importantly some comfort to you...we're all glad to help....keep asking until you understand... :) also answer the couple of questions I've asked...you have a great day too... :)

Posted: 13 Mar 2008 01:50 Post Subject:

[arrggg... I spent about 30 mins typing up some good info and accidentally deleted it. I can only add part of it again]

OP, I'll quickly say that right now there is no _good_ indication that this is a policy limits case. The plaintiff's attorney saying so is _not_ a good indication. Adjusters settle injury cases for $10k when the attorney's initial demand is for 1 million. It's a game that is played as the plaintiff's attorney has no reason not to make everyone think his/her client has a _huge_ claim. Might as well shoot for the stars. It's like buying a car... why would the dealer start with a low price? Of the few claims where suit is filed, only about 3% of those suits ever make it into court. Plaintiff attorneys want to make money. The more work they do, the less they make for that money. This is why most will settle for insurance money. If they are made a _good_ offer, its better for them to take it and move on to the next case. Is it worth spending weeks on depositions and in court just to _maybe_ get a judgement against a person who may or may not ever pay that judgement? Also, in _some_ states, if the verdict is for less then what was offered, the injured person is then responsible for the defendants defense costs. That is not true everywhere though. But its another reason so few cases ever actually go to court.

Your carrier will always provide you a defense! That cost is not connected to nor limited by your policy limits. If your carrier were to offer your policy limits and suit was still filed, your carrier would pay what they needed to in order to provide you legal defense (provide you an attorney).


I _think_ I tend to disagree with some of Lori's information...

I've never heard of a carrier filing a suit against a person who has insurance in order to recover the amount they paid on a loss. 1) It's not cost effective. The carrier would need to pay an attorney several thousand's of dollars and could also end up walking away owing the other parties defense costs if the verdict was less then the limits of the other person's policy. 2) Most carriers are members of Inter-company arbitration. This means they cannot file suit until they have had Inter-company arb make a determination on it and then both carriers are bound by that decision (which makes filing suit in court even more perplexing). 3) If the X carrier filed suit against a person who had insurance, X carrier would not get a dime from the person's carrier until the suit was settled.

I do know that carriers go after people _without_ insurance. This is done all the time. I've still _never_ heard of this being done via suit thought. I see it done by going through the state and having the person's drivers license suspended.

As far as limits... I don't condone low limits but I also don't recommend that a person _only_ consider how much of a loss they could _cause_ when determining what limits to obtain. I am actually saying that a person needs to consider that the liability insurance they are paying for not to protect others, rather themselves. We (as people who work for insurance companies) tell people that they should obtain coverage to protect themselves... after someone get's hit by someone without insurance we tell them, "this is why you should consider paying for collision coverage... to protect yourself". But then we also tell people they should pay for huge liability limits to protect "others"? That is a slight exaduration in order to make people see my point (as no one recommend "huge" limits... only higher limits). Here is where I tie it all in together... my point is that people need to consider the likelyhood that someone will want to turn down their liability limits in order to pursue the insured directly (and in many cases, forgo filing under their _own_ insurance in order to go after the other person directly). If I'm living paycheck to paycheck and have a hard time putting food on the table, perhaps I want to consider lower liability limits. Again, I'm not condoning lower limits.

Posted: 13 Mar 2008 07:43 Post Subject:

I do know that carriers go after people _without_ insurance. This is done all the time. I've still _never_ heard of this being done via suit thought. I see it done by going through the state and having the person's drivers license suspended.

yeah tcope we've discussed this before, and apparently this is state/company dependent...as I was a subro specialist the first year I worked in claims, it was my responsiblity to file small claims actions, as well as hire local attorneys to secure judgements for physical damage claims as well as UM claims (which is subrogatible in my state)...I assure you I'm not making it up! :roll: :lol: Then once I (thru the atty or in small claims) secured the judgement I could file a garnishment...you cannot (in my state) file a garnishment without a judgement....you can file a state report and pull the guys license, but that does nothing as far as collecting on the debt....


[arrggg... I spent about 30 mins typing up some good info and accidentally deleted it. I can only add part of it again]

ah dude, I've done that way too many times...it SUCKS BAD... :evil: :(

Posted: 15 Mar 2008 06:51 Post Subject:

Attorneys go for the easy money. If they know their client has UIM coverage, which believe me, they know, they'll advise to try for max limits on yours and max the UIM. They'll then take 33% and walk away happy with little work done. Also, in your case, the attorney is gong to have to show you at-fault and most excess payouts involve gross negligence.

I would just let the motions take place. As for your umbrella questions.

can I still add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits now? or it is already too late since I have a claim pending investigation?



You can never buy coverage for an event that has already happened.

When purchasing an umbrella policy, you must max out your underlying policy's liability limits. Most companies require you carry 100/300/100 on your auto and 300k on your home policy before you can obtain an umbrella policy. Being and "excess liability" policy, it is designed to cover the excess that your already high underlying limits can't. I don't believe your company will allow you to even purchase an umbrella policy while you still have an open liability claim.

If it is already too late for me to either add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits now, when will I be able to do so?



You should be able to raise your auto liability limits, but it will not affect how much you were insured for at the time of the accident. Insurance companies generally do not let you backdate coverage changes.

How much more does it usually cost to add Umbrella liability insurance or raise my auto policy liability limits to like Lori recommended 100k/300/100k?



You'd probably be surprised how cheap it can be. Of course, both policies will be rated based on your driving history and age. I think once this claim is over, cost will not be an issue when you look back at the uncertainty low liability limits can create.

Sometimes it take a scare to realize the true benefits of insurance and having people to take care of the headaches.

Posted: 15 Mar 2008 07:17 Post Subject:

We (as people who work for insurance companies) tell people that they should obtain coverage to protect themselves...



But then we also tell people they should pay for huge liability limits to protect "others"?



Everyone is clearly entitled to carry the coverages they feel comfortable with and I see your point, but I have to disagree.

I see it this way and generally others feel this way. I care what happens to someone else, should I hit and injure them. I've seen all too many times, people in bad shape financially because someone had an attitude of "I'm not worth anything, so sue me". Morally, I beleive that most people want to carry higher coverages to take care of someone they may injure. But I know some need to watch costs and that's why I try to find somewhere in the middle for them.

I have a friend who has a $75,000 judgement against him. In Texas, only child support or IRS can garnish wages and many people also bring it up when swearing they only need minimum limits. He can never finance anything. He has to pay cash for everything because banks will not loan him money with the judgement sitting over his head. If it could be avoided, why not protect yourself.

after someone get's hit by someone without insurance we tell them, "this is why you should consider paying for collision coverage... to protect yourself".



An insurance policy serves several purposes. To protect your liabilities and to protect your vehicles and yourself. So, in essence, you're correct. If a policy offers you 2 methods of protection, why not take advantage of it.

In the end, the question each and every insured should ask themselves is, how much can you afford to lose.

Posted: 15 Mar 2008 10:53 Post Subject:

When purchasing an umbrella policy, you must max out your underlying policy's liability limits.

Now see I didn't know that! Thanks MB, (don't know that I handled more that two of these claims in my life)...So what you are saying is a person must purchase the highest limits allowed for that particular policy before you can even purchase an umbrella?

RE: low vs high or higer limits...MB I agree (for me) I want to avoid the possiblity of a worry...I do not carry the highest but they are up there, for the reasons you state...again it's a personal choice all the way.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008 06:01 Post Subject:

It differs by company, but the lowest amount of minimum limits allowed on the primary policy is 100/300/100. Many are going to 250/500/100 or 500 CSL. The carriers want to make sure the primary policy covers as much as possible before the excess policy kicks in. This also allows them the opportunity to settle most claims before the umbrella is even discussed.

If it's found that you lowered your underlying limits while carrying the umbrella and the insurer was not informed, you can be held liable for the difference between your max auto limits, and the minimum umbrella limits.

ie. you go to 50/100/50 and have a 500k single BI claim. If the required minimum is 100/300/100, you can be held liable for the 50k between your 50k BI limit and the 100k required limit.

If you have an umbrella, you should never mention you have it. It should be your"just in case" policy.

Posted: 16 Mar 2008 11:15 Post Subject:

Great info MB, in you state (assuming you have the required limits) will an umbrella kick in on an auto claim then?

Posted: 17 Mar 2008 09:42 Post Subject:

Dear Lori, tcope, MBTexas, and all,

Thank you very much for all of your information and sharing your valuable expertise. I am currently out of town on a work related issue, it was a short notice that I have to go to cover one of my co-workers, sorry that I don't have my own laptop with me and I finally got to use someone elses laptop to access this forum.

I still have some questions that I need your help, I will be back soon, in the meantime, wish you all a very happy week. :)

Regards,

Linda

Posted: 17 Mar 2008 11:08 Post Subject:

We'll be here! :wink:

Posted: 17 Mar 2008 04:17 Post Subject:

in you state (assuming you have the required limits) will an umbrella kick in on an auto claim then?



Yes. The umbrella protects your liability over Auto, Home, Motorcycles, ATV's, etc... After your underlying limits have been met. Think of an umbrella as, well, an umbrella that reaches out over you and your assets.

Now there are few instances where there isn't a policy you can purchase for something you might be liable for. In those cases, there is generally a set deductible like $1,000. These are very rare instances since most situations can be insured by a primary policy of some sort.

Posted: 18 Mar 2008 10:03 Post Subject:

thanks MB great info....(clearly) I don't know much about umbrella's at all! as a matter of fact I couldn't get my ''company'' umbrella open today got soaked! (true )...seriously thanks..

Posted: 23 Aug 2008 08:27 Post Subject:

Umbrella insurance is useful for people owning assets to protect from legal actions and judgements. The umbrella insurance offers an extra layer of coverage over an above the policy limits.

There are few popular believes against the umbrella insurance owing to which many policy holders neglect its requirements.


  • Umbrella insurance is for the riches

  • It is expensive. Maintaining the minimum liability coverage would suffice and buying umbrella plan is wastage of money.

  • The process of getting benefit under the umbrellas insurance is complicated.


Often the liability coverage that comes with the auto or homeowners policy may not suffice the needs. And you have two ways to increase the liability limit for better protection.

Increase the limit on your original policy

Or, buy an umbrella policy, which might be a cheaper alternative for many.

Posted: 23 Aug 2008 09:09 Post Subject:

Hi Rupert

I have some thing to ask..

Increase the limit on your original policy

Or, buy an umbrella policy, which might be a cheaper alternative for many.


Why do I believe that increasing the limit of my original policy is within my hands! Yeah I may apply for it under such circumstances..but don't you think it has a lot of other factors to be counted upon before my service provider would actually work towards considering a coverage enhancement..? I don't think its fairly easy all the time buddy :) fatman

Posted: 26 Mar 2009 10:17 Post Subject: Excess Judgment is a posibility

Lori:

I stumbled upon this forum, and read your story.

Here are some straight forward questions to your answers.

Your insurance company will hire outside counsel to defend your interests. I've seen some posters state that your insurance company has a duty to settle within the policy limits. This is true, but with an important caveat. There has to be a settlement offer within the limits. For example, if your plaintiff never makes a demand that is within your limits, the insurance company DOES NOT owe you a duty to settle within your limits, due to impossibility.

However, even if the other driver does eventually file suit against you, there is still a chance that the plaintiff's claim will be dismissed.

Most States, like New York, where I'm from, have adopted No-Fault systems, which restrict the right of a plaintiff to bring a personal injury action arising out of a motor vehicle accident to those who have suffered a "serious injury."

If the plaintiff doesn't sustain a qualifying injury, they cannot bring the suit. In New York, it is well settled that whether the plaintiff has sustained a qualifying "serious injury" is a threshold matter, and is routinely raised by defense attorneys (just like the ones your insurer will hire to defend you), as grounds for dismissal.

So what is a "serious injury" under New York law (even though I see you're from California)?

Death, disfigurement, loss of a fetus, and fractures are prima facie evidence of a serious injury, while soft tissue injuries depend upon the resulting degree of limitation of use of a body organ, member, function or system (as dictated by objective medical evidnce, subjective complaints are not enough!), and whether such limitation is permanent or "significant", which has been defined as a limitation that is more than "minor, mild or slight."

New York also has a 90/180 category, which defines a "serious injury" as a medically determined injury of a nonpermanent nature which prevents the plaintiff from performing the customary acts which constitute her daily activities for at least 90 of the first 180 days immediately following the accident.

Even if the other driver gets this far, and has sustained a qualifying serious injury (let's say a broken arm), the case isn't over. THe plaintiff (assisted by their attorneys, of course), still needs to prove all of the elments of negligence: (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) causation; and, (4) harm.

I am not familiar with the facts of your accident, or California's case law, but I can tell you that in New York, one defense routinely used is called the emergency situation doctrine.

The doctrine attacks both the duty and breach elements of negligence, and argues that you acted as a reasonably prudent person given the circumstances then existing -- namely, a sudden and unforeseeable emergency situation not of your making, which left an insufficient amount of time for you to react or avoid the accident. The argument is that although you hit the other guy, something happened that was completely unforeseeable, and hence, out of your control. It doesn't make much sense to hold someone responsible for something they couldn't have prevented, right Lori?

Please keep in mind that all of these legal defenses are extemely fact specific. You need to speak to a licensed member of the Californai Bar for a proper evaluation of your defense, and don't worry, your insurance company will find them, hire them, and pay them for you. That's what your premiums were for.

Of course, most states have a vehicle and traffic law which imposes a rebuttable presumption of negligence on vehicles that rear-end other motorists. So if you rear-ended the guy, it will be assumed (absent an emergency situation) that you were operating your motor vehicle in a negligent manner, although, you will be given an opportunity to refute this presumption.

Because these situations are highly fact specific, and because confidentiality is always an issue, I urge you not to state the facts of the case on any public forum, and instead, do so only in the presence of your attorney.

Finally, I will address the original question which peaked my interest. Yes, the plaintiff can come after your house. If the plaintiff never makes an offer inside of the policy limits, and forces the case to trial, and he wins, and the jury awards him an amount greater than your policy limits, YOU are personally liable for the excess judgment (in the absence of SUM or UIM insurance). I am currently preparing to meet with a client facing this horrific experience. The majority of the posters were correct, it is very rare for a plaintiff to seek personal assets. Attorneys (who collect 1/3 of the judgment) are not interested in your house, also, at least where I'm from, it is generally considered bad form withint the legal community, absent extenuating circumstances, to go after personal assets.

That said, I am meeting with a client in the morning to discuss strategies to protect her house from any excess judgment. In her case, the plaintiff is extremely vindictive, and refuses to settle within the policy limits. He has stated, under oath, that he plans on "taking that bitch's house, so that she can feel some of the pain I've felt." It's a complete personal attack.

My client has limits of $100k, but the plaintiff was operating a motorcycle at the time of the accident, and his injuries are severe. My client is a 50 year old disabled widow. It's simply cold and uncalled for. I don't mean to scare you, but the reality is, it's posible.

Be patient. The process is long. In New York the statute of limitations is three years. That means, in some cases, the adjuster negotiates with plaintiff's counsel for up to three years to settle the case. When they can't settle the claim and the SOL is running out, the plaintiff will file suit against you. This is when you finally get an attorney, and he or she will guide you through the litigation stage. If, after 1-3 years of litigation (depending on docket loads and discovery issues), the case still hasn't settled, then you will proceed to trial and a jury of your peers will judge your liability and the plaintiff's alleged damages.

I hope this helps you. Although, it has been a while since your original thread.



Don't get me wrong. Your attorneys will look out for your best interests, and will do everything within their power to protect you, but insurance companies are not responsible for any amount in excess of your limits.

Posted: 28 Mar 2009 02:26 Post Subject:

Bluedevil03,

First of all, your response was lucid, well-read and included great information! Thanks for the input. (I also liked the techno-geeky stuff too) :!:

I have nothing to add to the OPs post; there is a tremendous amount of excellent information already in the thread. I think Lori and tcope provided one helluvan informational thread, and I think you absolutely helped the OP. :wink:

Regarding the umbrella liability coverage issue and a couple of other things...

It's gonna be tough (sorry about this OP) to have the carrier issue the umbrella policy right now. A loss has just occurred, and underwriting won't be happy about the idea of doling out another million dollars or so of protection right now. :cry: You should be able to raise the coverage under the basic auto policy, but as previously stated- it certainly won't be applicable to this loss.

Please keep in mind that there is a difference between an "umbrella" policy and an "excess liability" policy. People tend to use these terms interchangeably, but there are significant differences. Make sure your agent knows what the heck he is talking about here. If you're at all curious, just say the word and we will elucidate!

In terms of excess coverage (used as a generic term), it will apply exactly as is sounds. In terms of other conditions commonly attached to these policy forms:

  • * The carrier will normally require that the insured carry both the automobile and homeowner insurance policies in that company, and those policies (known as the "underlying" or "base" contracts) will have to carry
    liability coverage in a certain amount.The typical "underlying limits" must be at least $500,000 (sometime $300k) for auto liability and $300k for HO liability.
    * The limits of the underlying contracts will have to be exhausted before the excess coverage will kick in. Hence the term "excess."
    * The excess contract will have a deductible, usually called a "self-insured retention limit" and I've seen SIRs from $1,000- $5,000 in the personal lines marketplace.
    * Umbrella policies normally require that in order for the umbrella to kick in, the loss must be covered by the underlying contract. In excess liability policies, this is not always the case.
    * The cost for these policies is amazingly inexpensive, but are getting tougher and tougher to underwrite. I have a $2 mm excess liability policy with a $1k SIR that costs me $190 a year. Covers car and house, and even my stupid "incidental business occupancy" needs. I pay far more for my E&O
coverage :cry:

In terms of the basic auto and home policies, even if you can't get your carrier to issue the excess coverage, raise the underlying policies as high as you can afford them and the carrier will issue. I only say this if you can't get them to issue the excess coverage. You live in California, home of the lawsuit and the rich and famous and excessive property values. The difference in premium is comparably minimal to the potential for loss, and in this day and age of the sue-someone-to-get-rich scheme- buy the coverage.

I also agree with the fact that if you have nothing to protect in terms of assets, there's not a huge need to get a boatload of insurance. Sure, if you have a real problem, you'll probably get sued and have judgments entered against you and the potential of garnishment and all that jazz. It's going to trash your credit, but that's about it.

To our Original Poster- I fully concur with everything Lori and tcope said, if that means anything. In my experience in this arena, I have seen people lose their homes due to auto accidents. There's a key difference- NONE of these people were insured. The common denominator with these people was stupidity.

Finally- bluedevil------> because of your excellent response, I think we have a bylaw somewhere (remember- you joined the forum) that states that if you provide a good reponse, you're required by contract to hang out with us from time to time and comment on any issue you feel qualified to do so. Sorry 'bout that! :D

InsTeacher 8)

Posted: 28 Mar 2009 10:10 Post Subject:

Teacher, I have queries for you....is it really easy to increase the coverage level whenever you want? I've heard that the insurer might not always allow you to increase the coverage level. How can one convince the insurer for the additional coverage?

Which one is a better option buying the umbrella policy or increasing the level of homeowners coverage?

Posted: 31 Mar 2009 05:45 Post Subject:

is it really easy to increase the coverage level whenever you want? I've heard that the insurer might not always allow you to increase the coverage level. How can one convince the insurer for the additional coverage?



Good question. No, insurers will not always increase limits simply because the insured wants them raised. Commonly, a number of factors will come into play when trying to convince your underwriter to increase a policyowner's limits.

At times, it's pretty hard to convince them to do so, especially right after a loss. Some underwriters "panic" when they see a limits increase request soon after a loss, others view it as a prudent request following that loss. Some of the factors most underwriters consider here would be:
- Length of time insured with the carrier and previous loss history;
- Lines of insurance with the carrier (multi-line, single-line, commerical or business coverage with that carrier? Things like that);
- Reasons given for the increase. Underwriters know that any increase to the coverage wouldn't affect a loss that occurred prior to the increase, so that's not a concern in their minds. Their concerns stem from the likelihood of any future losses that may occur. Certain things will color their thinking here; teenage drivers, types and use of the cars, losses on other insured lines with this or other carriers, condition of property, and all those things that they looked at in the first place. The client will be essentially "re-underwritten."

If you can affirn positively to the reasons above, there's a fair chance the underwriter will respond postitively. On the other hand, I wouldn't hold my breath in a lot of cases...

InsTeacher 8)

Posted: 31 Mar 2009 11:28 Post Subject:

Okay, then one with a tinted claim record would have problems in increasing his policy limit. I was also wondering that even if the insurer agrees for the hike in coverage limit, would it charge more than normal for the claim history of the policy holder?

Also, can the underwriter suspect fraud if the insured requests to elevate the coverage level?

Posted: 31 Mar 2009 12:16 Post Subject:

I don't think requesting something could be considered as a fraud. But yes, the claims history may affect the rates. Don't you see the obvious reason behind it? Would you choose to cover someone who's suffered with the same worth of coverage that you'd like to cover for someone who has a clean claims history? Ask yourself!

Posted: 15 Apr 2009 01:36 Post Subject: insureds injury & coverages

if an insured has mv/ho/umbrella coverage & is involved in a mv accident in which the other party is 100% @ fault & has minimum required ins under the vehicle involved & as a result the insured becomes disabled & looses their income & thus persues the uim coverage under their own policy doesnt the insurer have an obligation to persue liability from the negligent party & incurr any legal fees in persuing monies on behalf of their insured under any & all lines of insurance the negligent party may have & do these other policies of the insured cover that insured as liabilities for costs incuured as a result of the accident

Posted: 29 May 2009 12:16 Post Subject: Lets be realistic

Linda,

You probably don't earn MUCH money...You probably shop for "cheap insurance." When your agent suggested having more coverage, you probably didn't want to pay the money. By the way - YOU CHOSE THAT COVERAGE!!! I hope you lose it all b/c you chose to save $5 a month to have less coverage & now it came back. Hahahahahah :)

Posted: 05 Nov 2009 11:53 Post Subject:

Hi CIC..it's not always that we'd be glad to have less coverage. Many of us are pretty much aware of the unforeseen risks and the consequences. Still, quite a few of us won't find it easy to get the right coverage due to the rising costs. Hope, we'd be able to get out of the shackles of the economic downturn sooner than we expect.

Posted: 27 Mar 2010 11:44 Post Subject: jogger ran into my car

she has hired a lawyer and is sueing me. how do i protect my assets if allstate does not cover the entire award if it goes to court.

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