My fiancee rear ended a car and pushed it into another which made all three nondrivable. One girl went to the ER for whiplash but everyone else is fine. Now three other people are claiming injury and one has hired a lawyer. We received a letter from State Farm saying his 25/50 and PD: 25 may not cover the accident. What do we do if our limits are exhausted? We do not have any savings for this and cannot afford a lawyer as we are getting married in a month. I don't understand how 4 people being sore cannot max out 50k BI. Thanks.
Your fiance has a serious challenge. State Farm is obligated to pay up to $25,000 for one person or a total of $50,000 for all claimants for this incident. State Farm wil work hard to settle all claims within the $50,000 (I was in-house counsel for State Farm for a number of years), but they will also alert your fiance that he may want to consult his own outside attorney to discuss the financial implications if such a settlement cannot be obtained.
If your fiance gets sued, State Farm will assign an attorney to represent him -- as they must do so per the terms of the insuring agreement. That attorney is not the "outside counsel" to which I am referring.
As to how it is four "sore" people can make such claims, I do not know -- nor does anyone else on this board. What we can tell you is that a trip to the ER is pricey and your fiance is carrying minimal coverage -- which is very, very dangerous in today's world of expensive health care.
In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.
For now you will be represented by an attorney that State Farm pays for. Make sure your fiancé tries to stay informed about what is going on so that he knows if he will need to talk with his own lawyer if the combined claims exceed $50,000.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
Your fiancée needs to cooperate with her insurance carrier, State Farm, in hopefully resolving these claims within the limited policy limits. Your fiancée should write to State Farm, admitting her full liability and demanding that they attempt to settle the claims within her applicable policy limits.
As you contemplate married life, you can see that your minimal liability limits are insufficient in this day and age. I suggest that you and your intended have a meeting with an independent insurance agent who can shop around for the best possible coverage at the least expense. An independent agent will have a number of insurance carriers from which to choose. State Farm is not usually the cheapest to have in my opinion.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. 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 timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
If the injured individuals demand more for their injuries than your insurance policy limits and you do not agree to pay, they will be forced to file a lawsuit against your finance. Your finance has the same right as the injured party to have a jury decide the amount the injured are entitled to recover. Your liability insurance contract with you insurance carrier should provide for a lawyer to represent you in the matter without cost to you. You should consult your insurance contract for the specifics.
The jury system provides a method in which you are allowed to investigate the claims of the other individuals, and fight them if you disagree. However, if the other individuals are injured in excess of the $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage available under your insurance policy, you may want to consider discussing payment options for an amount above the $50,000 in order to avoid trial. This can provide certainty to the extent of your future obligations.
You should consult with a lawyer in your state. This information is intended for information use only, and should not be takes as legal advise under the laws of your state.
State Farm will hire an attorney to defend you should a lawsuit be filed by the injured parties. However, you should consult a private attorney - one not hired and paid by State Farm - about evaluating your personal liability and sending a "hammer letter" strongly encouraging State Farm to offer to settle all of the claims for the policy limits of $50,000. State Farm must act in good faith in handling the claim and if it does and cause you to incur personal liability in excess of your policy limits then you may have a claim against State Farm.
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