Many drivers become complacent and think that their insurance makes them invincible.
However, this isn’t the case.
Being insured does not protect you from being sued.
Of course, it reduces the risk, but it doesn’t fully protect you.
For example, if your insurance is inadequate, the person you injured may have no option but to take you to court in an attempt to recover the remaining compensation for the damages and injuries incurred.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the reasons why somebody may still sue you for a car accident, even if you have insurance.
How insurance will help
Even if you’re insured, the other driver may come after you with a lawsuit for injuries or damages caused by a car accident.
If you have insurance, legal action may not be too much of an issue, as liability coverage, also known as Personal Injury and Property Damage coverage, covers the cost of legal fees.
However, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a car accident may result in a lawsuit…
Most Common Reasons for a Car Accident Lawsuit
1. The driver doesn’t have insurance
This is one of the most frequent situations lawyers see.
Surprisingly, despite laws that compel the purchase of auto insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), many people still drive uninsured. The IRC estimates that in 2014, nearly 13% of motorists - about one in eight drivers - were uninsured.
However, if you’re uninsured, and you’re involved in an accident that causes damage or injury to the other driver and their property, the driver has no choice but to sue you to recover costs.
2. The driver’s insurance is inadequate
Sometimes, motorists have insurance but it falls short of the cost of the damage and injuries they’ve incurred.
If your insurance is insufficient, it can lead to a lawsuit.
This is not too uncommon, as many states have low minimums for liability, and of course, the majority of us never expect to need this cover, which is usually around $25,000 for property damage and $50,000 for bodily injury, according to honestpolicy.com.
So if a bodily injury claim amounts to $52,900 and the other driver’s insurance coverage limits only amount to $50,000, the victim may have no choice but to sue the at-fault driver in order to recover the rest.
3. The driver is taking too long to respond
The reason why someone may choose to sue a driver is to speed up the process.
Sometimes, if the insurance claim is taking too long, a driver may file a lawsuit to apply pressure on the other party.
They may also do this simply as a pre-emptive.
States each have different statutes of limitations, which define the length of time a person has to sue someone before they’re barred from doing so.
However, once a lawsuit is filed it pauses the clock on the statute of limitations, so occasionally, a driver will do this “just in case”, even though they’re hopeful the insurance will likely take care of it and that the case can be settled.
Typical Insurance Scenarios After an Auto Accident
If a driver is injured in a car accident, there can be many knock-on effects in other areas of their life.
Of course, there’s the injury itself, which may need surgery, hospitalization, treatment, and medication, as well as the non-economic damages such as recovery period, emotional impact, and the effect on their day-to-day life.
However, due to the minimal coverage requirements in many states, it’s quite common for the victim’s losses to exceed the insurance limits, as substantial medical, property damage, and other costs are often left unpaid.
As well as this, if there are multiple victims in an accident, losses will be even higher, and will easily exceed the minimum coverage.
Grounds for a Lawsuit
The injured individual may have grounds for a lawsuit based on several reasons.
For example, the victim of the accident may have unpaid losses that exceed the other person’s insurance policy, which means they may need to sue in order to recover the remaining costs of the damages.
Similarly, if the other driver is uninsured, the victim’s only chance of compensation is by suing the individual who caused the injuries.
Like we said previously, a lawsuit may also be filed to pause the statute of limitations and put pressure on the other party.
For the above reasons, it’s a good idea to purchase insurance which is above the minimum requirement, if you can afford to do so. This offers you greater protection if you are in an accident and the other person is severely injured.
I can still sue the driver who caused the accident if I settle my personal injury claim with the “at fault” driver’s insurance company.
This isn’t true, as the whole point of settling a personal injury claim is to close the case. Therefore, when a claim is settled, you have to sign a release. The release means you are prevented from filing further claims against the other driver.
The “at fault” driver’s insurance must cover my lost wages and medical bills as they arise.
Again, not true.
Your ongoing medical bills or lost wages will only be paid by the insurer for the at-fault driver if this is part of the settlement, or if a jury determines that a driver has been negligent and judgment is entered against them.
I can sue the insurance company of the “at-fault” driver if I do not settle my claim with their insurance company.
This isn’t true either, as you can only sue the person who is responsible for causing the crash. If you sue someone and they have insurance, their insurance company will then hire a lawyer to represent and advise them.