Friday, April 23, 2010

Did I settle too soon? Investigating all applicable insurance coverage.

A person who recently went through the personal injury claims process asked me whether she settled too soon.   She was involved in a traffic collision and her medical expenses and lost wages were in the area of $22,000.  She had a friend who was an attorney specializing in patent law, and she asked her friend to take care of the case for her.

Because the driver who hit her only had $25,000 in liability insurance, the patent attorney settled it for $25,000.  However, this result still left the woman wondering.

In this situation, I would've recommended that the woman consult a personal injury attorney. More likely than not, the woman would've been entitled to significantly more than $25,000 considering factors like future medical expenses, loss of future wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.  I didn't know enough about the facts of the woman's particular case, but it seemed to me that none of these factors were taken into account in calculating the $22,000.

It is possible that $25,000 was the maximum amount that could've been recovered.  However, it is always necessary to determine the availability of all possible insurance coverage.  For example, when determining the policy limits of an opposing party, one should inquire about excess/umbrella insurance, which insurance companies often hesitate to disclose.  Also, if,  a would be defendant is underinsured, the plaintiff's own insurance policy should have been notified of an underinsured motorist claim.  Even if it isn't certain whether underinsured coverage will apply, notice should still be given to the plaintiff's insurance company.

This is but a sample of the avenues the woman could have looked for recovery.  It is essential to hire an attorney who knows personal injury law in order to increase  recovery.

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