The driver was a minor with parental permission to drive (the driver was supposed to have an adult in the car but there was no adult present). My son broke his arm and required surgery. The attorney hired says that the insurance company will max out at $50k. Is there a limit on insurance payouts and can we seek more money for current medical bills, additional surgery, lawyer fees (33%) and pain and suffering?
The only person who can answer you is your attorney, who has facts no one here has. Your post makes it sound like there is a max of $50K of coverage, so an insurer won't pay more than the limits. Only your attorney knows the severity of the injuries, the adjuster, whether you have a bad insurer like State Farm/Allstate or a really good one (folks like USAA, etc), liability, if you have med pay or UM, etc. Ask him.
There are multiple options for recovery including other vehicles owned by the parents of the driver, umbrella coverages, private out of pocket pay and your own underinsured motorist coverage. Additionally, in Georgia if the settlement for your son exceeds $15,000 it will have to be approved by the probate court of the county you reside. This can include an appointed conservator or guardian ad litem. All settlements on behalf of a minor require court approval even if the matter was settled without filing a lawsuit. I suggest speaking with your current lawyer about all of your options.
I agree that the recovery depends on whether there is enough insurance and, if not, whether the at-fault driver has assets worth pursuing. The at-fault driver's liability coverage would be first in line, then if the defendant had an umbrella policy, that would be next in lime, then if that policy amount is not enough, your underinsured motorist coverage is next. Then, if the at-fault driver has any assets, you could pursue those. I would be happy to speak to you about your case. Call me at 478-254-3606 for a free consultation. Good luck.
Only If the at-fault party's ins. co. pays its max liability coverage amount can you then seek under-insured benefits from your own carrier to supplement what the at-fault party's max was. However, first you must have underinsured motorist coverage (call your agent if you don't know) AND your UM coverage must exceed the max of the other party's liability coverage, which you say has been exhausted at 50k AND your son's injuries are bad enough to warrant more than the $50k already paid AND if your attorney knows the specific legal details involved in properly notifying and filing the under-insured claim, AND there has been a thorough investigation as to whether there are other parties that could be at fault (bad road design, defective tires, uncrashwothy automobile, etc.,) then you would be able to get more money that way. But don't forget the old-fashioned way of checking to see if the at-fault party has any good assets, in which case you could sue that party for more than his/ her 50k ins. limit, especially if you don't have large enough UM ins. to kick in over the 50k. You must have MORE than 50k in UM coverage before your policy will pay anything. This is very confusing stuff and you should sit down with your lawyer and discuss it with him.
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It all depends on what the insurance limits are, and if the drivers parents have any assets, etc. you can always move forward with an underinsured motorists claim with your own coverage, and see I'd that policy sticks. A long shot would be to see if they had any personal umbrella coverage...
You need to talk openly & candidly with your current attorney. Give your attorney a chance to answer & address your thoughts, concerns & fears. This is one of the main reasons that it is critical to have really good underinsured motorist coverage, which you may have. I am not sure, but go ahead & talk with your current lawyer. Best wishes.
Sam Levine, Esq.
I agree with the posts above that your attorney should be able to explore other options before filing a lawsuit, such as the at-fault's possible umbrella coverage, and your own underinsured motorist policy. There is no guarantee that your son's claim would benefit from going to trial, especially if the at-fault has no assets. Filing a lawsuit typically increases your claim expenses (doctor dispositions, office expenses, attorney's fee) as well.
Yes. You have every right to tell your attorney you don't want to settle and to take your case to trial, or fire your attorney and find someone who will.
As for available coverage, depending on your sons injuries and your attorney's prelitigation acumen, pursuing an excess judgment and a post judgment cause of action for bad faith against the insurance company could get you more than the policy limits. Here's a legal guide about bad faith. http://bit.ly/YZL4SD
Either way, it's important that you know that 1) you have the right to decide whether or not to settle or go to trial and 2) it's your attorney's responsibility to do all in his or her power to preserve your potential right to recover more than the policy limits.
Since you have an attorney, it would not be prudent for attorneys here on Avvo.com to comment directly on your case, since your attorney is in the best position to provide you with information. I suggest you have a face-to-face meeting with your attorney and also understand the maximum insurance coverage which may be available here, including any underinsured motorist coverage. Speak with your attorney.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
Discuss your problem with your attorney. The only possible additional claims I can think of are: 1) Underinsured Motorist Coverage (Your own UIM policy), and 2) Negligent entrustment of the vehicle by the owners (Homeowners Insurance of car owner). See if your attorney thinks either of those is an option in your state.
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