Skip to main content

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

Posted

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

Mark as helpful

6 lawyers agree

3 comments

Asker

Posted

I talked to one today, thank you. The 40% just scares me if we are only going to get $25,000 toward my medical bills that I would get anyway, then I'm stuck owing an additional $10,000 because I had to pay the attorney 40%. I've never been involved with court before and I'm scared and confused.

Kevin Coluccio

Kevin Coluccio

Posted

Talk to a few attorneys before you decide who should represent you.

Asker

Posted

I see you are a brain injury lawyer. My injury is a brain injury. Multiple concussions and now PCS.

Posted

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.

Mark as helpful

7 lawyers agree

4 comments

Asker

Posted

The attorney I consulted has a great reputation, she was actually recommended to me by an employee of an insurance company not involved in this situation.

Frank Marvin Nunes

Frank Marvin Nunes

Posted

Then I would hire that attorney and leave the lawyering to her so you can get on with your life. Only in American can people hite attorneys with no up front money to fight the large insurnace companies. Take advantage of that opportunity. Remember, the attorney doesn't get paid until and unless you do.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. One more question, will she collect 40% of the original $25,000 from his coverage and then I'll owe an extra $10,000 in addition to the $25,000+ over his coverage?

Frank Marvin Nunes

Frank Marvin Nunes

Posted

It is all subject to negotiation between you and the attorney. Usually the attorney gets paid a percentage of the amount paid by the other driver's insurance company for the bodily injury portion of the claim. Many attorneys, like myself, do not charge a percentage for money paid under the property damage or rental car portion pai by the other partys insurance company. I also do not charge a fee on medical payments issued by my client's policy under the medical payment coverage. However, most attorneys do charge a percentage of the amount recovered from the client's uninsured or underinsured policy. In your example, the attorney would be entitled to 40% of the $25,000 paid from the other driver's insurance company, or roughly $10,000, plus the same amount if the additional $25,000 was recovered from your underinsured motorist coverage. Rememberr, the attorney has to recover something before she is entitled to get paid anything.

Posted

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.

Mark as helpful

8 lawyers agree

3 comments

Asker

Posted

I do have uninsured motorist coverage. But when I talked to them, they said I don't have medical coverage for myself. I didn't have any idea that I had to actually ask for that. I thought I was doing the responsible thing with my insurance policy. I just changed insurance 3 weeks before the accident.

Steven Mark Sweat

Steven Mark Sweat

Posted

What are your uninsured motorist limits? If they are more than $25,000, you need to have an attorney help you submit a claim to your own carrier. "Medical payments" coverage is a separate coverage and even if you didn't have "medical payments" coverage, you may still be able to collect from your carrier. I would be glad to review this matter for you if you would like to call my office (866) 229-0101.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. I consulted an attorney today. If I'm not comfortable with her when I go back on Wednesday, I'll give you a call for sure. I'm just really scared and know my medical bills are going to be piling up now.

Posted

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

Mark as helpful

8 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

One more thing I didn't mention and I don't know if it's important is, I told him I bumped my head and it hurt really bad and he told me he was a medic and that I should just go home, take a couple Tylenol and rest (I think he actually said take a nap but my memory is a little fuzzy) and then if I don't feel better in a few hours I should think about getting medical attention. Clearly with the multiple concussions, taking a nap could have been fatal. What kind of medic would give that advice?

Posted

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.

Mark as helpful

6 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

My coverage is also $25,000 uninsured motorist coverage.

Posted

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

Mark as helpful

5 lawyers agree

Posted

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

Mark as helpful

6 lawyers agree

Personal injury topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics