When motorcyclists buy insurance, they make a reasoned guess at how much coverage they’ll need in case of an accident. However, no one can perfectly predict the future, and in the case of a severe crash, your insurance coverage may not be enough to meet all your expenses. If you’re in an accident with someone who has no insurance or minimal insurance, their coverage may not be enough to meet your needs.
Winning damages in excess of an insurance policy’s coverage can be difficult, but it is not impossible. To do it, you’ll need to understand key elements of policy limits and the situations in which it’s possible to seek additional compensation.
Understanding Insurance Policy Limits
The “limits” of an insurance policy are the maximum amount of money the insurance company is responsible to pay. No matter how large or small your damages total is, the insurance company is obligated to pay only up to the limits set in the policy.
Policy limits are typically assigned separately. For instance, if your policy has a $50,000 / $100,000 limit for bodily injury, that means the insurer only has to pay up to $50,000 per person injured in an accident caused by you or a total of $100,000 for the entire accident, regardless of the number of people injured or amount of their damages.
Collecting Damages Outside Your Policy Limits
A person injured in a motorcycle crash may have options for collecting damages in excess of an insurance policy’s limits. The most common methods are recovering under an umbrella policy or another policy, bringing a lawsuit against a defendant, or bringing a lawsuit against additional defendants (sometimes known as “third party” defendants).
In an accident with one party at fault, there may still be multiple insurance policies involved. For instance, if you were in an accident and recovered the policy limits against the at-fault party, separate under-insured motorist coverage in your personal auto policy may provide additional insurance for your injuries.
Suing a Third Party
In some motorcycle accidents, more than one person or company contributed to the crash. For instance, if a defective part on your bike failed at a critical moment, causing you to be more severely injured than you otherwise would have been, the manufacturer, distributor, or installer of the part may be partially responsible for your injuries – and may be required to pay damages if you can establish their liability.
Collecting From the Defendant Directly
Depending on your state’s laws and rules, you may be able to take the defendant to court directly and have a judgment entered against them for the amount that’s not covered by insurance.
This route is difficult, and you will certainly want to consult a lawyer. Not only do you have to win a court case, but the defendant also has to have the assets to pay you. If the defendant has no job or liquid assets, collecting the money may be nearly impossible, even if you win. Your lawyer can help you evaluate the benefits of taking this route.
Not all of these options are available in every motorcycle accident. It’s important to talk to an attorney if your losses exceed the available insurance coverage in order to understand your options.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at the Folger Law Firm are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you. Contact us today to learn more.