When a person or entity causes bodily harm to one of our clients, one of the first steps we take as experienced lawyers is to determine if the responsible party has applicable insurance coverage And if so, how much. For more information on why it is important to identify whether or not a defendant has applicable insurance, Click here.
This article discusses the importance of obtaining insurance policy limits and how to go about finding out those policy limits.
Why knowing the insurance limits of a responsible party is an essential tool in pre-litigation negotiations
An insurance company has a legal obligation to act in good faith when negotiating claims and to protect the people it insures. Knowing the limits of an insurance policy can be used as leverage against an insurance company when negotiating a deal. For example, if you have a car accident In a case worth around $ 25,000, to a few thousand dollars or so, and the offending party only has $ 25,000 coverage, you can use knowledge of their policy limits as leverage when of negotiation. In this example, if the policy limits are unknown, you might be willing to settle the case for $ 20,000, even if you think it is worth around $ 25,000 to avoid cost, time, and aggravation. of a trial. However, if you know that the responsible party has insurance limits of only $ 25,000, you can put significant pressure on the insurance company to offer their total policy limit so that they can protect their policy. insured against excessive judgment.
What is excessive judgment?
Excessive judgment is a verdict against the defendant that exceeds any available insurance coverage, and an insurance company has a legal obligation to protect its policyholders against this.
In the example above, if their insured caused approximately $ 25,000 in shame and the insurance company does not offer its policy limits on demand, and a verdict is rendered against the defendant for $ 30,000, the insurance company could then be charged with a bad faith claim of the share of its insured. In this scenario, the insurer did not protect its insured by exposing it to personal liability of $ 5,000, which is the amount of the judgment ($ 30,000) minus the policy limits ($ 25,000). If a bad faith claim is upheld against the insurer, the insurance company would be liable for the $ 5,000 excess verdict, legal fees and any additional costs the court may deem necessary. Due to the risk of exposing the insurance company to a bad faith claim, insurance companies are more likely to offer policy limits if the case is rated around those limits because a bad faith claim could cost the insurance company even more money.
In short, once you know the limits of an insurer’s policy and whether the limits are close to the value of the case, this can be used as leverage with the insurer to avoid undue judgment against its insured and avoid a potential bad faith claim against it as well.
How do you find out what the limits of the policy are?
If you have already filed a trial, you can ask for the limits of the policy in Discovery or drop a summons duces tecum by asking the insurer. It becomes a little more difficult to obtain the limits of the pre-litigation insurance policy. And if possible, you should always get the limits from the police before a lawsuit is filed, as this will only help your pre-litigation negotiation. It should always be a goal to settle a case without having to take legal action.
Lost medical bills and wages are $ 12,500 or more
Under the Virginia Code § 8.01-417, an insurance company covering a motor vehicle accident must disclose its personal injury liability policy limits if the medical bills and / or lost wages submitted amount to $ 12,500 or more. To obtain the limits from the policy, the injured party must provide the address of the responsible party (if known), the date of the motor vehicle accident, the accident report (if available), medical records, medical bills and lost wages documents relating to the injury claim. If this is provided to the insurance company, along with a written request to disclose their insured’s policy limits, the insurance company has 30 days to disclose those limits.
Similar to car accident cases, insurance limits are also detectable before litigation in slip and fall case, if the medical expenses and / or loss of wages claimed total $ 12,500 or more. Under the Virginia Code § 8.01-417.01, a claimant must provide the insurer with the date the injury was sustained, the address of the property where the injury was sustained, the name of the owner of the residence , the injured person’s medical records, medical bills and salary insurance documents relating to the claimed injury. If the total of the medical bills and / or lost wages submitted is equal to or greater than $ 12,500, the insurer has 30 days to respond in writing and disclose the applicable insurance limits.
In wrongful death case, where a party has died as a result of an automobile accident or owner’s negligence, policy limits can also be obtained upon written request. Similar to the requirements of $ 12,500 for medical bills / lost wages under § 8.01-417 and § 8.01-417 of the Virginia Code, policy limits must be disclosed in cases of wrongful death, regardless or the amount of medical bills claimed and / or loss of income. The requesting party must make this request in writing to the insurance company and provide the address of the responsible party (if known), the date of the injury and the accident report (if available). The insurer then has 30 days to disclose in writing the limits of its policy.
Alcohol-related expenses related to a car accident
If a person was injured in a car accident and the offending party was charged with certain alcohol-related offenses in connection with the accident, the limits of their insurance policy would also be detectable before litigation under of the Virginia Code § 8.01-417 if they are accused of one of the following:
- 18.2-51.4. Dismemberment, etc., of others resulting from impaired driving
- 18.2-266. Driving a motor vehicle, engine, etc., while intoxicated, etc.
- 18.2-266.1. Persons under the age of 21 driving after illegally consuming alcohol; sadness.
- 18.2-268.3. § 18.2-268.3. Refusal of examinations; penalties; procedures.
- 46.2-341.24. Driving a commercial vehicle while intoxicated, etc.
If the offending party is charged (conviction does not matter) with any of the above offenses, their insurance limits could be discovered regardless of the injured party’s medical bills and / or loss. of income claimed. The requesting party should always ask the insurance company in writing and provide the address of the responsible party (if known), the date of the injury and the accident report (if available). The insurer then has 30 days to disclose in writing the limits of its policy.
Litigation is costly, lengthy and exhausting for clients. This is why we at Curcio Law I believe it is always in the best interest of our clients to try to settle a personal injury case before having to take legal action. One way to do this is to uncover the limits of the policy and pressure the insurer to offer fair deals on a case or risk the possibility of an excessive verdict against those they insure.
If you have any questions or need advice following an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, please don’t hesitate to call or text 703-836-3366 Where contact us online.