I had a sleep and fall accident in January 2010 I had a spine surgery in 2012 due to my accident. The doctor gave me disability, i m only 28 years old. The defendants insurance company offered me the full policy which wasn't much. They waited 5 months before the trial date to settle this. Should I go on trial? How can I find out 100% if there is an umbrella under their policy. It's kinda suspicious the insurance company settled 5 months before trial.
It is not necessarily suspicious. This is how many carriers do business. However, based on your question I am not sure as to whether the case has been settled, or an offer to settle has been made. You mention that they "settled" the lawsuit, but that you are unsure as to whether you want to proceed to trial. If you settle a lawsuit there is no trial (or the trial stops if it had already begun). You should speak with your attorney since they are in the best position to answer your questions.
Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.
If your case is filed, your attorney would have sent out written questions called interrogatories, and would have asked about all insurance policies. That would include umbrella policies. I am assuming you are represented by counsel. If they offered you the policy limits, unless whoever you are suing has assets over and above the limits, why would you not settle. If you get a verdict in excess of the policy which has been tendered, the person or entity you are suing is responsible for payment on any monies over and above the policy. Please discuss with your attorney.
It is not unusual for an insurance company to drag their feet before settling a claim as it can work to their advantage. Whether you go to trial is only a decision that you can make in consultation with your lawyer. Their are risks associated with going to trial. For example, a jury could come back with a verdict against you on the liability portion of the trial saying that you should have seen what it is that you slipped on, or that you should have avoided it. A jury could also find for you, but could award less than you have already been offered. Or, the jury could award a greater sum. It is all a matter of your risk tolerance, and what could be collected above and beyond the insurance money that has already been offered. With respect to finding out about excess or umbrella coverage, if you decide to settle the case, or even if you don't, your attorney should demand an affidavit from the defendants as to whether any additional insurance is available. If they say yes, you have more coverage available to potentially recover. If they say no, and you rely upon that in settling the case and later learn that there is, you could potentially vacate the settlement. It is to the defendants advantage to disclose all coverage available because it protects them from personal exposure.
New York Plaintiff's Personal Injury Attorney Serving NYC, Long Island, Westchester and the surrounding areas. The information provided herein is not, and is not intended to be, legal advice. The content herein is for information and educational purposes only, and is based on the limited information provided. Any information provided is not intended to, and does not, create any attorney/client relationship where none exists. For legal advice, please consult with an attorney. While this posting is made for informational purposes only for the AVVO community, to the extent one seeks to contact me based on the content herein, or that this may be viewed by some to be attorney advertising, please be advised of the following: *Attorney Advertising
See my answer to this in your other posting of this question.
I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not intended to be taken as legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.
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Your attorney should know what to search for excess insurance. He or she may also want to do an asset search of the defendant to see if there are assets collectable beyond the policy.
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