Skip to main content

What happens to med bills , if you receive a jury verdict for 100,000 dollars yet defendant only has insurance coverage of20,000

Huntington Beach, CA |

I understand that if you settle for policy limits with the insured, the injured plaintiff is still responsible for the medical bills. If this sort of case went to trial and the other person was found liable would the same still hold true? Or would this time the defendant be on the hook for the medical bills and settlement and thus likely file for bankruptcy? Would the plaintiff receive the 20,000 policy limit in reward? It is quite odd because it as if the injured person is liable for the defendants damages even though the defendant is found liable.. I am speaking hypothetically and simple need information..

+ Read More

Attorney answers 8


If the verdict is for 100k, the defendant is liable for 100k irrespective of the insurance coverage. The medical bills are unchanged by the verdict and/or the policy limit. However, if are represented by counsel, you should pose this question to your attorney and make a determination whether or not the medical bills can be reduced.


A competent lawyer would likely evaluate your case and demand policy limits if appropriate. If the defendant's insurer fails to pay on time, the policy can be opened and the insurer is on the hook for whatever the verdict is.


If you get 100k verdict and it isn't appealed, then you collect the 20k from the defts ins co, and must try to collect the rest from the deft personally. The deft may file bk depending upon other facts. Talk to your atty or consult with one if you don't have one.


If a jury award is greater than the amount of insurance coverage, you are still entitled to the amount of the award. whether you would be able to collect or not would be the issue. If the plaintiff has underinsured motorist coverage, after the primary policy paid out, the UM policy would kick in and pay per the terms of its coverage. This could either be in addition to the primary poly or reduced by the primary policy. For instance, if the UM coverage was an add-on policy of 50K, then the UM carrier would pay the policy limits of 50K, leaving 30K to be collected from the Defendant directly. If the UM policy is a "reduced by" policy, then the 50k would be reduced by the amount of coverage on the primary policy (50k minus 20k) and the UM carrier would only pay out an additional 30k, leaving 50K to be collected from the Defendant. If there is any amount uncovered by insurance, then the Defendant would be on the hook for the rest but could try to avoid the judgment by filing bankruptcy as other attorneys have suggested.


Wow, that's a very unfortunate situation...

Yes, if you went to trial and the defendant were found liable, plaintiff remains responsible to pay back the medical bills from the compensation received. The origin of the medical lien will help you make sense of why this is...

The medical lien exists because someone paid for YOUR medical treatment. That person that paid now wants money from YOU. This will not change because you won your case at trial.

Having said that, whether or not litigation and/or proceeding to trial is a good idea depends on whether several other areas have been explore:

(A) Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) - If you have this coverage in your own automobile insurance policy, the next thing to explore is how much coverage you have. If you have sufficient UIM coverage, then you have a safety net.

(B) Collection - If the financial condition of the responsible parties are such that it would be unfeasible to collect on a judgment that you obtain, then you may be wasting your time/money. These defendants are sometimes referred to as "judgment proof." Evaluate whether or not the responsible parties fall within this category.

(C) Liens - How many and what type of liens that might exist in your case depends on "who" paid your medical bills. Liens are typically reduced to facilitate settlement - especially in these unfortunate situations. However, there's never a guarantee that the lienholders will negotiate and/or how much they will reduce the liens.

Good luck to you!

This information is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is intended for general informational purposes only. Said information is given in the context of California law.


As many of the responding attorneys have explained, you are entitled to the total amount awarded to you in the settlement/ jury verdict process. The fact of the matter is however that you should be consulting with your attorney regarding the collection of these funds, instead of asking here on Avvo. We have limited knowledge of the facts of your case and without knowing the funds available to you, we cannot advise you unlike your attorney. I wish you the best of luck.


plaintiff is still liable for the medical bills.


You would have to go after the defendant to collect the judgment, beyond the policy limits which is not always easy.

Kevin Samuel Sullivan

Kevin Samuel Sullivan



Get Avvo’s 3-part personal injury email series

A roundup of the best tips and legal advice.

Personal injury topics

Recommended articles about Personal injury

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