Husband was in a motorcycle accident that was 100% other driver's fault. Split/seperated pelvis, frt & back, and other injuries. Had a plate put in his pelvis and casts applied. 3 wks aft one cast came off he was airlifted to Peoria with multi blood clots in his leg and both lungs. After mo.s of multiple Dr.s, PT, surgeries, tests, medication, complications, pain mangmt., he has been released w/ partial-to-full disability.
State Farm is the mutual ins. co. 100% defendant's fault. Well documented, witnesses. SF assigned 1 Adjuster and we were forced to file a lawsuit against the other driver. Our lawyer is telling us that settlement is not 3 x med/lost wages/future lost wages and that we shouldn't ask for more than the policy allows. Can't go after his house or investments? Advice?
The sad reality is that you can almost never find assets that are not magically disappeared, nonexistent, or exempt under the law for an individual. In just about every auto case, unless you are "lucky" enough to get hit by someone who is independently wealthy, you are limited to the insurance policy in the real world.
The other thing that I'm sure your husband's lawyer has already addressed is a possible UIM or Underinsured Motorist claim against your own coverage. That would allow you to pursue UP TO the difference in your limits less the culpable driver's limits.
The only other option would be if the other driver had some other source of insurance, was operating a commercial vehicle, or had an umbrella liability policy or other policy that attached to the vehicle or driver. I am certain he has already looked into this.
Sorry for the answer you didn't want.
Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
Sounds like you husband has a very severe injury, which is unfortunate and no amount of money will adequately compensate.
It seldom make sense to go after a person's assets unless they are extremely wealthy. Both their home and retirement accounts are protected in various ways.
You can decide to hire a different lawyer if you are unhappy, but, in more cases than not, accepting the policy limits is the wise decision.
You should ask your lawyer the rationale for accepting the policy limits and weigh it against the chance of greater recovery.
You CANNOT sue the other driver unless you REFUSE to accept the policy limits which have apparently been tendered. NO attorney would file suit in this situation. It will take at least $7,000.00 and 9-12 months to prepare the case for trial. Let's say you get several million dollars. Think about what you would do if you owed that much money. The Defendant would spend $400.00 to file bankruptcy which would make the multi-million dollar verdict worth less than the paper it was printed on. Now you have the same policy check you had before you filed suit, MINUS whatever you spent to work-up the case.
For future reference, for another $100.00 - $200.00 per year, you could have purchased at least $500,000.00 -$1,000,000.00 of uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage, all of which would be available to you now.
Your attorney should have explained.
The simple answer is that there is not enough information here (nor should there be) to determine whether the settlement is one that should be taken or not. Usually the policy limits are the practical upper limit of recovery from the other driver, then UIM coverage if available and applicable, and, in very rare cases, personal assets of the Defendant. These are rare, but not unknown. Earlier this year I settled a case where the at fault driver was an older gentleman who did not believe in insurance, and carried minimal coverage (with State Farm). Doing some research on the land records, however, revealed that he had real estate holdings, and investigation revealed that he was not poor, he was just frugal, and a substantial recovery was made from his personal assets. Get a second opinion if you are not satisfied with your attorney's recommendation. That being said, the odds are that acceptance of the policy limits with negotiation of any liens for medical expenses is probably the right course of action.
It sounds like they have tendered the policy limits. You don't say what the policy limits are. If they are substantial then believe it or not you may be taking a risk going to trial, because juries traditionally do not like motorcyclists and it might not be worth the risk. Most personal injury attorneys do not like to go after personal assets and will only usually do so in the most egregious of cases.
The problem with going beyond the policy limits is that the defendant can file a bankruptcy. Hence, you would need to evaluate his assets to determine how much the bankruptcy would exempt from payment.
Clifford W. Horwitz
Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates
25 E. Washington St. Chicago, IL 60602
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