Last July, I rear ended a car that ended up hitting the car in front. Everything seemed fine, we didn't call police and I didn't have enough damage to make paying the deductable to fix it. One of the ladies hired a lawyer and wants $35,000 in damages. I have a $25,000 limit. My agent is going to try to settle it for less. Do I need a lawyer now but for myself? If it does go to litigation, would my insurance company's lawyers be protection enough?
Your car insurance will have an attorney for you if it goes to litigation. I would think that your insurance adjuster or attorney will do their best to settle the claim for less than $25,000. Your facts seem to indicate that it should unless there are substantial bodily injury damages that resulted from this accident that you were unaware of.
If the damages are actually $35,000 and your insurance coverage has a $25K limit, then your personal assets could be reached to pay the difference. Definitely look into paying for a higher insurance limit, it's worth the extra few bucks you pay each month.
At this point, let your insurance handle it. If settlement becomes undoable, then consider a very experienced Car Accident Attorney near you.
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Your insurance carrier will provide legal representation for you in this matter. Let it earn the premiums that you've been paying.
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I am sorry to read your note. As you probably know, your carrier will appoint and pay for a lawyer to defend you in the case. But, you are also right that it may be time to retain separate counsel as well. The concern I have is that if the adverse party's counsel demanded the $35k and your carrier timely offered the policy limit of $25k, then your insurance did what it was supposed to do. If the adverse lawyer is unwilling to accept the offered policy limit, you need guidance on how to handle this excess claim. However, it is possible the adverse carrier demanded an excess amount and your carrier did not timely offer its limit. That may put your carrier in a bad faith circumstance and you will need your own lawyer to guide you through the bad faith potential claim. Through this process, the excess claim may well need to be paid by your carrier--depending on the circumstances. Secondly, were you driving your own car versus a friends car? There may be other sources of insurance coverage that should be involved in the case depending on the circumstances. With the above in mind, I think it is worth you getting in for a consult with a lawyer that does "bad faith" insurance work.
Finally, and I do not mean to throw the salt shaker at the wound, but buy more insurance--both liability as well as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. As you are seeing, the minimum coverage of $25,000 does not go very far these days.
Again sorry you are having to deal with this.
All the best,
I would just ask the adjuster or defense attorney handling your claim to let you know if/when they deny a $25,000 policy limit demand from the lady. If she has injuries that could be above $25,000 and a jury awarded her something more than $25,000, then your insurance company really messed up and you could be exposed. If this happens, then you definitely want to hire a personal injury attorney to pursue a bad faith claim against your insurance company.
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