Asked 4 months ago - Santa Clara, CAFlag
I was in a motorcycle / auto accident 1 . 5 years ago ( I was the automobile ) . The motorcyclist seemed fine but a witness at the scene convinced him to call an ambulance . I believe the motorcyclist was at fault but the police issued me a ticket for an illegal right turn ( which I didn't contest ) . I had 15k coverage . The motorcyclist has an under insured policy of 30k . Motorcyclist was working to get a settlement from my insurance company but my insurance company wouldn't pay the full 15k as well as his property claim where he said he lost a necklace during the accident . The man got frustrated and hired an attorney . Plaintiff is now claiming he tore his rotator cuff and my insurance attorney thinks it could be a suit worth 100k . I have no assets , any options besides bankruptcy ?
Yes, you should consult your own personal injury or insurance attorney right now and without delay. It is possible that your insurance company has failed in its obligations that it owed to you, and that you may be able to pursue the insurance company for bad faith breach of insurance contract. Our firm is experienced in those matters. We have offices in Santa Cruz and San Jose. There is no charge for calling us to talk about the case.
Brad C. Brereton
Your insurance company will likely be on the hook for the excess judgment. If they refuse to pay a judgment in excess of the policy limits, you have a vaild claim for bad faith. Consult with an attorney that deals with bad faith claims if you get a judgment that the insurance company refuses to pay. Best of luck.
I would follow Mr. Brereton's advice. An insurance company has an obligation to act in good faith to settle claims, where the facts and evidence warrant, so as to avoid personal exposure to its insured. In short, if all of the available documents, etc., indicated that you stood exposed to a liablity verdict against you, and that the claim presented an exposure in excess of your $15K policy but the carrier could have settled the case for the policy limits; their refusal to do so might be considered "bad faith" and makes the carrier liable to pay any damages in excess of your policy limits that you become entitled to . How easy or hard its going to be to prove "bad faith" in your situation is dependent on the documents that they carrier had available at the time it could have settled the claim for the $15K. You should consult with an attorney such as Mr. Breretion as soon as possble.
When someone pays for X dollars worth of coverage, one expects (and has contractual rights to) X dollars worth of coverage. Should an insurer not pay out X dollars in a situation where such an amount is proper. that insurer breaching its obligations - acting in "bad faith" as we attorneys say. Such a breaching insurer could then be found liable for the entire amount of the claim - or up to the value of that insurance company whichever is less.
Someone who is being kicked around by his or her insurance company should seek a bad faith insurance lawyer to kick back.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
Corona, CA 92879
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I cannot be sure from what you have written that your own insurance company is on the hook for bad faith damages if there is a judgment against you in excess of your insurance. But this is a strong possibility.
Ask your insurance company attorney if your insurance company will pay for you to hire independent counsel. If they will great. (And I believe they have to.) If they won't, reach into your pocket and hire your own attorney.
Your own attorney will then attempt to make a deal with the plaintiff's attorney along these lines: Plaintiff will never try to enforce any judgment he might against you personally. In exchange you assign your rights of bad faith against your insurance company to the plaintiff. Then you can sit back and let the plaintiff and your ins. co. fight it out.
Your ins co will not pay for you to consult with a lawyer in this situation. If they were unreasonable in refusing to settle when they could have for 15k, they may be on the hook for any over the limits judgment and other damages you may sustain. I would suggest you not file Bk at this point. The documents all need to be reviewed. Has suit been filed? I have practiced in San Jose for 34 years and may know the pltf atty. Perhaps the atty can be persuaded to acept the 15 policy if your co is willing to pay it. You need to consult with an atty independent of your carrier, asap.
You may have a claim for bad faith insurance litigation. You can assign the right to sue your insurance company, if the right arises, to the injured plaintiff in exchange for a release of liability for the excess judgment.
You should get your own personal injury attorney with experience in bad faith litigation.
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