Generally, your med pay coverage is fairly small ($5K) and pertains to occupants in your vehicle. Your personal injury liability coverage is usually a much higher number and generally has two limits: a per person limit and a per occurrence limit, e.g., $100,000/$300,000. I suspect you need to review your policy declarations page, again.
Owner liability under Vehicle Code §17150 generally is limited to $15,000 per injured person; $30,000 per occurrence; and $5,000 for property damage [Vehicle Code §17151.]
California law generally requires that automobile insurance policies cover permissive drivers under the owner's liability policy [Insurance Code §11580.1(b)(4)] but the insurer can limit permissive user coverage by use of clear and conspicuous language to $15,000/$30,000/$5,000 [Vehicle Code §16056.]
The permissive use statute does not limit the liability amount owed by the owner based on another viable legal theory (other than permissive use) such as, for example, negligent entrustment to an “incompetent, reckless, or inexperienced driver” or employee drivers.
You are only protected to the limits of your insurance policy. If the injured driver has insurance that is good for the injured driver but does not reduce your liability.
If you have questions regarding your insurance coverage and particularly if your carrier denies coverage, you should consult your own independent attorney.
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Depending on the circumstances you may be held personally liable for costs in excess of your coverage. Did you give her permission to drive? Did you know she was unlicensed? Don't answer those questions here. Retain an attorney in your area and speak with him. In the mean time make no statements either online or to your insurance. If you do your case could be affected.
-Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org Mike@jslaw.org This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.
I agree with Mr. Coluccio. You really need to contact a competent personal injury attorney, give them all the facts, and have them explain the issues of liability & coverage to you. Best of luck.
Your first step is to turn this case over your insurance carrier, if you have not already done so. They will hire a lawyer to represent you and your driver (there may be some exceptions but let's assume she is being represented.) Your insurance company has a legal duty to try and settle the matter within your policy limits. However, the other side is not obligated to accept a settlement offer. This is something over which you have no control. Under California law, a registered owner liable up to $15,000 (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d09/vc17151.htm), unless the injured driver can prove Negligent Entrustment. You can research this topic online or if you want a detailed opinion applicable to the facts of your case, you can hire your own lawyer.
In ordinary circumstances as the owner of the vehicle your liability would be limited to $15,000, but if you knowingly allow someone without a license to drive your vehicle, your liability could become open ended. If you're looking at injuries that may exceed $100,000 in bodily injury insurance limits, I'm not certain whose policy you are speaking about. It's inconceivable that your insurance carrier is going to provide coverage to an individual who does not have a driver's license and no insurance. I would suggest you desperately need to seek out legal counsel.
I hope this is helpful.
John N. Kitta
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Your ins co will cover up to 100k per person and 300k per accident. You gave the driver permission to drive, so she will be covered under your policy, unless there is a specific exclusion for her. A registered owner is liable under the VC section you are aware of for 15/30. That is merely due to ownership. If you were independently negligent, you could be sued for an unlimited amount. If you gave someone your car to drive and you knew the brakes were bad is one example. If you let someone use your car who was not fit to drive, is another.
The pltf in this case can sue you and the driver for an unlimited amount. Your co will pay no more than 100k total to settle for you and your driver both. If the pltf proves you were negligent, and the verdict comes in greater than 100k you could be personally liable for the excess. If your company did not offer the 100k to try to get you released from laibility, you could then have a case against your ins co whose job is to protect you.
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