with the insurance of the guy who was responsible, they told my husband that all they were able to give him was $5000. according to them thats all they were able to cover for the guy who had hit my husbands car. The total estimate for the car to get fixed is around $9000, yet they still say that $5000 is all they are willing to give. is there anything we can do legally?
You are likely being lowballed. It is tough to know without knowing all of the facts. But, I highly encourage you to retain an experienced personal injury attorney in your jurisdiction. The insurance industry's own statistics - not mine or those of injury attorneys - confirm that unrepresented claimants receive far lower settlements than those who are represented. Here's more: [Blue Link Below]
As one of the out of state attorneys has guessed, California insurance policies often have a $5,000 limit for property damage liability, so that might be all the insurance that other driver has. You might be able to collect more by telling the insurance company that you will sue him in small claims court if he does not contribute the difference out of his pocket. If he does not agree to that, go ahead and sue him - you can claim up to $10,000 in our small claims courts in CA.
It is possible that California has a $5,000 minimum property damage limit for their auto insurance policies. If that is the case, that means the insurance company cannot offer you anymore b/c that is all the policy allows for because that is what the individual purchased, and you will either need to sue the individual personally for the loss, take the $5,000 and pay the difference yourself, or check your auto insurance limits. If your limits are higher, and you have comprehensive and/or collision coverage, you may be able to make the claim to your insurance company to cover the cost of the vehicle. You may want to contact a CA property damage attorney to discuss your options.
Minimum bodily injury policy limits in California are $15,000 per person to a maximum of $30,000 per incident still talking about minimum policy limits - higher policies have higher limits) so maybe the carrier will be able to pay hubbie for his injury to make up the inference on property damage and at least get him closer to being made whole. Yes, property damage limits are typically lower than bodily injury limits, but don't believe the adjuster unless s/he sends you a copy if the "dec page" that declares the other side's policy limits. The other side typically will not do that unless they have their insured's permission, but if they decline, press on why not since (1) they're already claiming to let you know limits ($5k) so it makes sense to back it up. I also like counsel's small claims suggestion, but the limit of recovery is $10k so if he also suffered bodily injury and was treated, he will not be made whole because the $1k difference is not enough to cover the car, doctor bills plus pain and suffering. If your husband was injured, he really should hire a lawyer experienced in personal injury. If it's just the car that was injured, small claims is a good alternative. Lawyers are not permitted in small claims in California, but they can help prepare the complaint and give the plaintiff a strong sense of what to say and how to say it. I would charge about $500 to go over the facts if you brought a police report, then help prepare the complaint and give you guidance on presentation - abou two hours of time. Others may charge less or more. I'm sure you can find a California Avvo attorney to help whether or not you want to go the small claims route.
California allows people to drive around with basic insurance... and most people are cool with that idea as it means low insurance premiums... that is until he or she is trying to collect for an accident... that's when one finds out that basic coverage means $5k in property damage or $15k for injury... a fender bender can easily cause more than $5k in property damage and a trip to the ER for a CT scan and some pain medication can run close to, if not over, $15k. When one is faced with the at fault driver (the other driver, hopefully) not having enough coverage, one should hope he or she was savvy enough to purchase UIM coverage… if not one may have to resort to suit against the driver for the difference or eat it.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
Corona, CA 92879
www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com
"When you need a lawyer, call the Doctor... Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D... Call (888)MDJDLAW."
* This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.
** Fransen & Molinaro, LLP practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.
If you are rear-ended in an automobile accident on the freeway, the other driver is liable for your damages and injuries. In some states, there is a sudden stop defense for vehicles coming to a sudden stop without adequate warning. I am not sure in your case whether the insurance company is alleging you are comparatively at fault for a sudden stop, hence reducing the payment by your percentage of fault, or whether this is the alleged policy limit of the defendant. In either event, call a lawyer who does automobile accidents to verify this and your options.
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