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Can I collect from an underinsured driver? He only has $25,000 and my medical bills are already over $50,000?

Sacramento, CA |

The boy rearended me and takes full responsibility, but only has $25,000 coverage. I have no health insurance and unfortunately, I just discovered I don't have medical coverage for myself on my own auto policy. Is it possible to collect money from him to cover my medical bills, not to mention my lost wages, I couldn't work for 6 weeks after the accident? I consulted an attorney today, but I don't want to be on the line for 40% of his $25,000 if the chances of collecting beyond the $25,000 aren't great. I just don't want to be stuck with a bunch of bills I can't afford to pay. I already had to borrow money for rent this month as it is.

Attorney Answers 7


  1. This is a situation in which you need to talk with a qualified personal injury attorney. Contact one in your community.


  2. It is called personal injury because claims, like people, are unique to each individual person. I suggest you shop around. Attorney fees are negotiable, but remember - good lawyers aren't cheap and cheap lawyers are good.

    If you are a potential client, the information you disclose to us by email will be kept in strict confidence and will be protected to the full extent of the law. Please be advised, however, that the Law Offices of Frank M. Nunes, Inc. and its lawyers do not represent you until you have signed a retainer agreement with the firm. Until that time, you are responsible for any statutes of limitations or other deadlines for your case or potential case.


  3. What you need to do is check your own policy coverages. If you have UNinsured motorist coverage, you also have UNDERinsured (UIM) motorist coverage. If the limit of your UIM coverage on your own auto insurance policy is more than $25,000, you could collect the overage through your own carrier. A good personal injury attorney could get to the bottom of this issue fairly quickly.

    Nothing in this communication should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship. This is for informational purposes only. Attorney will take no action on your behalf unless and until a written retainer agreement is signed. There are strict time deadlines on filing claims and, as such, you are advised to consult with and retain an attorney immediately to file such claims timely or you will lose any right to recovery.


  4. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to recover money from individuals above their policy limits. The boy's insurance company will not pay you the 25k policy limit unless you sign a Release of All Claims against the boy which means you would agree to accept the 25k for all damages against the boy and could not seek more money. You could approach the boy and see if he would be willing to pay money above his policy and include cash payment and the policy limit in the Release. You could also file a lawsuit, get a verdict and try to collect against the boy and his insurance would pay the first 25k. But, I wouldn't recommend that because it would probably cost that much to get your judgment. Furthermore, once you got the judgment, the boy could probably file bankruptcy and discharge the judgment. Unless the boy is wealthy it is unlikely you will recover any money from him beyond his policy. You should do a background check on him to see if he is likely to have money to cover your losses. You can always negotiate with him directly. You should investigate if there are any other sources of recovery such as; (1) Was he on job at time? (2) Ny other cause of this accident besides his negligence? Also, did you have uninsured motorist coverage with a policy limit of more than $25k? If so, you could make a claim against your own policy. Good luck. Glenn Guenard / gguenard@gblegal.com


  5. If the this boy's liabilty policy limit is $25,000, it is doubtful that it would be financially beneficial for you to pursue a judgment for more than the policy. It is just not likely this person has enough money or financial worth to make up for the cost of getting the judgment. However, it is a good idea to do a background/asset check to be sure.

    The best case scenario, as discussed in other answers, is that you have uninsured motorist coverage that exceeds the $25,000 liability policy. In that situation, you will have an "under-insured" motorist claim up to the difference between your policy and the $25,000. For instance, if you had $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage, you would have a claim up to an additional $25,000 after you settled for the boy's policy limit.

    Lastly, an attorney may be of benefit to you even if the $25,000 is all there is to recover. A good personal injury attorney can reduce the medical bills so that you can take more of the settlement funds. However, 40% is simply too much to charge a client for this kind of case. You should shop around.

    Feel free to call me tomorrow if you would like to discuss this situation further - (916)774-7200.


  6. Your UIM insurance should make up the difference, hopefully...


  7. There is not really a standard template for a situation like this. It's best to consult with a good personal injury attorney in your area. Having good legal representation ensures the insurance company will be dealt with adequately and efficiently.

    Mike Walker
    www.walkerlawgroup.net

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