Hi, Note that I was involved in a Car Accident. I was pinned between my car and the other driver's car. I was not driving, but parked legally and had opened my trunk. While getting something I was hit from the back by a drunk motorist. This all happend in Philadelphi (PA) in 8/26/11. It seems that his insurance is limited to only $15K per person. During this accident my left leg was destroyed and I now face medical bills of over $500K. My own insurance (Allstate) has covered some of this via "No-fault' insurance. However, this is now exhaulsted and I face many medical bills on my own. Can I sue the drunk driver's insurance (Infinity) for over that limit of $15K on his policy?To realease the $15K they have asked me to sign a general release that protects them, the driver and any related party from any further litigation. I have been tempted to sign this as my own insurance (Allstate) has an under-insured policy that would cover me for an additional $85. However I would have to sign the genral release from infinity first. I feel that if I sign this paper I will have no future recourse to get anything else from the true criminal. Please let me know what your thoughts are. Thanks, Tanya
Hi, Tanya, and Welcome to JustAnswer. Thank you for your question. My name isXXXXX am a practicing Attorney, liocensed in New York and Pennsylvania, and would be glad to help I am sorry to hear of your accident and the injuries inflicted upon you by the other driver; I wish you a very speedy recovery. First, please let me dispel a common misconception; When another driver causes an accident and causes another person personal injuries, the injured party must sue the other driver for his injuries, pain and suffering, and any other expenses he has incurred as a result of the other driver's Negligence. The injured party does not sue the other driver's insurance company. The other driver's insurance company has an obligation to its insured, the other driver, under its automobile insurance polocy to step in and pay any claims made against their insured and if the injured party files a lawsuit against the other driver, his insurance company also has an obligation to give their insured legal representation in any lawsuit. Your insurance company has a right to subrogation for any medical and all other expenses it has paid on your behalf. This means that it has a right to be reimbursed by the negligent party's insurance company. You should not sign the release offered to you by the other driver's insurance company for the following reasons: 1. By signing the release offered to you by the other driver's insurance company, you will be giving up the right to sue the other driver for your injuries, pain and suffering, loss of income, any unpaid medical expenses and anything else for which you could have sued the other driver; 2. You should not sign anything which the other driver's insurance company asks you to sign without first notifying your own insurance company in writing what the other driver's insurance company wants you to sign because the Release binding on you as well as your insurance company which means that your insurance company willl lose the right to subrogation against the other driver's insurance company. If you sign the Release without the knowledge or consent of your insurance company, they can deny any further payment of your medical bills. You stated that the other driver's automobile insurance policy had limits to coverage of $15,000 per person. However, these policies cover $15,000 per person and $ _____________ , in the aggregate for each accident. You will, therefore, be able to tap into the aggeagate amount since nobody else suffered injuries from the other driver's negligence. In addition, under Pennsylvania law a party suffering injuries from an automobile accident is not limited to the limited tort restrictions contained in his automobile insurance and can sue the other driver under one of the exceptions, which in your situation, is being injured by a negligent driver who had been drinking and possibly intoxicated. Additionally, your situation falls under a second exception which is that your injuries were substantial and were not merely "soft tissue injuries".
You should also look over the provisions of your automobile insurance policy to determine if you have additional coverage for underinsured drivers over and above the $85,000 you had mentikoned.
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Thanks for your reply. I am still a bit confused and would like to clarify the insurance's responsability here. If I chose to sue the driver up to what point will the insurance cover him? only up to the $15K and not beyond? The driver has no assests and seems to make about $25K a year; there may not be much the driver can be forced to pay. I guess this is why I am curious about the insurance's liability in this case under his policy. Thanks, Tanya
At this point, do not concern yourself with whether or not the driver will be able to pay any judgement you obtain against him. That might be what is confusing the issue You would sue the driver for all of your damages - injuries, pain and suffering, loss of income, etc., His insurance carrier will pay up to the maximum. If he has $15,000/$30,000, this means that the amounts are limited to $15,000 per person and #$30,000 in the aggregate for one accident. Since you were the only person injured, his insurance carrier would pay you the aggergate amount. For Example, Assume for a moment that you did not have underinsured coverage. If you sued the other driver, and obtained a judgment against him, for $80,000, his insurance carrier would be obligated to their insured to pay up to the maximum of $30,000 which is the limit of his liability. You would still have a judgment against him for $50,000 on which you could execute at any time you find out that he has accumulated any assets. In addition, this $50,000 judgment against him will prevent him from getting any credit, from obtaining a mortgage loan if he wants to buy a house, etc. It will stay with him and follow him.
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25 yrs Personal Injury, Real Estate & Bus, Family Law, Criminal Defense, Immigration, Employment Law
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