What Are the Normal Policy Limits for Auto Insurance?
California requires that every driver of a motor vehicle maintain a minimum coverage for liability for bodily injuries caused to another person in the amount of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per occurrence. (i.e. $15,000 if only one other person is involved in an accident and up to $30,000 if there a multiple injured parties). From there people normally have policy limits that are in increments of $25,000/$50,000; $50,000/$100,000; $250,000/$500,000. Usually with a higher limit policy, it is also possible to get "excess" or "umbrella" coverage, which is usually around $1,000,000.
Why Are These Normal Policy Limits Sometimes Not Enough?
Unfortunately, if a person suffers significant injury or death following a car accident, these limits may not be enough to cover the costs of present and future medical care and treatment. This may leave an injured victim with less than what they need to recover.
Is it Ever Possible to Get the Insurance Company to Pay More than the Policy Limit?
The answer is yes but, it requires a skilled personal injury attorney familiar with California insurance law. The California insurance code and cases interpreting it require insurance companies to conduct a proper investigation and accept a reasonable demand for settlement for the entire policy limits. Therefore, if the attorney presents the claim in such a way as to demonstrate that the damages may very well exceed the policy limits and demands that the limit be paid and the insurance carrier rejects this reasonable demand, the insurance company may be obligated to pay any judgment in excess of the limits later on following a jury verdict. This provides (1) an incentive to accept a reasonable policy limit demand; and (2) a consequence of being able to get the insurance company to pay more than the limit if they reject the policy limit settlement demand. All of this requires a skilled lawyer that can present the claim properly and follow through if the offer is rejected.
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