Your Options When a Jury Awards the Plaintiff More Than Your Policy Limits
I was recently sued and the jury awarded the man suing me more money than my automobile insurance policy limits. The initial lawsuit was for more than my policy limits, but I was told by the insurance adjuster that there was no way the man could get more than my limits. Now I do not know what to do. I have talked to the attorney that the insurance company hired for me and he says he can’t help me. I don’t know what to do about this situation. I think that I should talk to another attorney, but is it too late? Roberto O.
We cannot give you legal advice. This would be one of the few times we would say “you need to get your own attorney.” Here is why:
First, if you were sued for more than your policy limits, the insurance adjuster should have notified you in writing that there was the possibility of an excess verdict. (An excess verdict is an award over your policy limits, which is what you are now faced with). Your question does not imply that this was done.
There are certain processes that the insurance company must follow when handling a lawsuit, especially one that involves an amount of money that exceeds their insured person’s policy limits, no matter how far fetched or unrealistic it might seem. You should be given the chance to hire another attorney, in addition to the one provided by the insurance company, to make sure that your financial interests are protected.
You would be well served to have your case reviewed by an attorney who has only your interests, and not your insurance company’s interests, in mind. If it is found that your insurance company or its representative failed to protect you or to resolve the case for a reasonable amount of money, thus forcing the case to trial, you may have a claim for Bad Faith.
There are many attorneys who specialize in Bad Faith cases. Such an attorney may be able to convince of force the insurance company to pay the verdict even if it is more than your policy limits or perhaps even pursue punitive damages for you. The details depend upon the state you live in. (You did not indicate where you live.) There will be a deadline that the court has set for payment of the award, so time is of the essence. This article is approved for informational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.