Knowing how to navigate through the process of a car accident can be extremely confusing and daunting to most people. A big question that victims of car accidents have to consider is, should I settle for the other driver’s policy limits or file a lawsuit against them? The answer to this question isn’t always easy, clear, and obvious. Let’s discuss this a little.
Understanding What Policy Limits Are
In California, drivers are required by law to have insurance. California requires that drivers have at least what is called a 15/30 policy. This means that in the event of an accident, insurance can pay up to $15,000 per person involved in an accident but never more than $30,000 total for all of the people injured.
So, if a driver causes an accident with you and they have a 15/30 policy, no matter how much your medical expenses are and how much pain and suffering they’ve caused you, you can only recover $15,000 from their insurance carrier. If there were other people in your car who were injured, then you and your passengers can’t get more than $30,000 in total.
Understanding Filing a Lawsuit
Victims of car accidents have the right to file lawsuits against the at-fault drivers that caused the accident. Sometimes the damages you’ve suffered in a car accident far exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits. For example, there might be a scenario where your medical expenses are $50,000 and you want $100,000 for your pain and suffering, but the at-fault driver has the California minimum policy aka the 15/30 policy. Here, you may consider opting to filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to get $150,000 rather than settling for his insurance policy limit of $15,000.
Things to Consider When Making Your Decision to Settle or File a Lawsuit
· Amount of Medical Expenses
· Pain and Suffering· Lost Wages
· At-Fault Driver’s Policy Limit
· Time and Energy Litigating
· At-Fault Driver’s Ability to Compensate You
The last bullet point is bolded for a reason – Even if your case is successful, the at-fault driver may not have the means to even compensate you. Filing a lawsuit against someone who cannot adequately compensate you may prove futile and a waste of time, energy, and money.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, contact us now at (510) 340-4LAW. We guide our clients through the complicated process of settling car accidents with insurance companies.
We can also discuss options with you if the at-fault driver’s insurance policy isn’t enough to cover your damages.