Insurance Policy Limits in California Car Accidents

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What are auto insurance policy limits?

If someone hits you and causes injury, you are entitled to recover money from that person. This money includes paying you back for your medical bills, lost time at work, but also your pain and suffering.

That driver should have auto insurance (it is illegal to drive in California without insurance).

“All drivers and all owners of a motor vehicle shall at all times be able to establish financial responsibility pursuant to Section 16021, and shall at all times carry in the vehicle evidence of the form of financial responsibility in effect for the vehicle.

California Vehicle Code 1620

This insurance will cover the amounts the driver owes you.

However, the insurance company is only obligated to pay up to the limit of the policy that driver chose. Policy limits are the highest amount an insurance company has to pay on a policy. In California the minimum coverage someone can buy is $15,000.00/$30,000.00. In other words, if you are injured and your case is worth $30,000, the other driver’s insurance company will only pay up to $15,000.00.

The rest of the money has to come from the driver directly, and that’s usually not possible. Most of the time drivers who choose a minimal policy do not have a lot of other assets to cover the rest.

Is it important to know the limits of the auto insurance policy?

Yes. Especially if your injuries are serious. Knowing how much insurance coverage there is helpful to your attorney because there are several useful strategies that that depend on knowing how the amount of insurance coverage. Insurance adjusters will use every argument against you, so it’s best to arm yourself with as much information as possible.

There are several ways to do this. The first way is to just ask them. If the injuries are serious it is often times in their best interest to release it to you.

The second way is exclusive to select attorneys, such as our own San Diego car accident lawyers, who have resources to find out the policy limit information.

A third way is to file a lawsuit and demand they release this information to you.

Why would the other driver release the insurance policy limits to you?

It is in the at-fault driver’s best interest to release this information, because then you would be looking to settle at or near the policy limits. This would effectively end the case, and the at-fault driver isn’t afraid of you winning a huge verdict and exposing their assets.

It also lets you know how much money is available just in case certain medical procedures are being considered for your treatment. If these procedures are expensive and the at-fault driver has a minimum California policy ($15,000/30,000) you need to know this, so that you may find alternative methods to pay for it.

In certain cases your own Uninsured Motorist Coverage may kick in if the at-fault driver’s policy limit is lower, and is completely used up at settlement.

You can see why it is important to find out the coverage limits as early as possible. If you are injured from a motor vehicle accident, and you have questions about policy limits give us a call at (866) JOE-DANG or (866) 563-3264 to schedule your free case review and have all  your questions answered with no obligations.

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