After a car accident in Washington D.C., you may be left with severe injuries and disabilities that require a lifetime of care. When this occurs, you will need to collect compensation for these injuries from the “at fault” driver’s insurance company.
Yet, collecting the money you need after an accident isn’t always easy. In general, the “at fault” driver’s insurance company will typically only pay up to the policy’s limits. If your judge or jury award is higher than the policy limits, what can you do?
Fortunately, there may be other ways you can collect compensation beyond policy limits.
Understanding Policy Limits
When you purchase liability insurance, there is a policy limit in place. A policy limit is essentially the maximum amount of money that the insurance company is required to pay. Most drivers do not carry more than the minimum amounts of coverage.
In Washington, D.C., and Virginia, the minimum liability insurance required is $25,000 per injury. In Maryland, it is $30,000 per injury.
If you’re injured in a car accident in Washington D.C., and you suffer $40,000 in damages, the “at fault” driver’s insurance company will typically only pay out $25,000 if the driver had a minimum liability insurance policy. If the judge or jury awards you $40,000 for your injuries and damages, then the remaining $15,000 will have to come from somewhere else. But where?
Collecting from Your UM/UIM Policy
If you purchased Uninsured motorist/Underinsured motorist insurance, then you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company. Drivers in Maryland and Virginia are required to carry UM/UIM protection; however, drivers in Washington D.C., are only required to purchase UM protection. UIM protection is available for D.C. drivers to purchase optionally.
It is important to know, however, that UM/UIM protection only kicks in when the coverage exceeds the defendant’s coverage. As such, if you purchased $25,000 of UM/UIM protection and the defendant has $25,000 of coverage, then you would not get additional compensation for your injuries. If you purchased $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage, however, and the at-fault driver only had $25,000 in coverage, then you would be able to collect compensation from your UM/UIM insurance policy, to make up the difference, up to a maximum total recovery from both sources of $50,000.
Collecting from your own UM/UIM policy can be complicated and confusing. As such, if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, the best thing you can do is to call an experienced attorney immediately.
Suing Additional Defendants
In some cases, there may be multiple parties to blame for your accident and injuries. If two or more parties are found to have shared liability for an accident, they may jointly share financial responsibility for the whole amount of damages as well. In this case, both party’s insurance policies would pay the total losses.
An example of shared liability can be found in trucking accident cases. In many cases, the trucking company and the truck driver share some of the legal burdens after an accident. The trucking company may have broken FMCSA rules and regulations by encouraging its drivers to disregard rest breaks. The truck driver may have been liable for falling asleep at the wheel of the vehicle; therefore, causing the crash. In this case, your attorney may be able to collect compensation from both the truck driver and the trucking company’s insurance policies.
Other examples include dram shop liability, vicarious liability cases, and premises liability cases.
Collect from a Defendant Personally
Another way to collect money outside of policy limits would be to try and collect directly from the defendant. This is difficult to do if the “at fault” driver doesn’t have money or any assets of value. However, in some cases, you may be able to get a judge to order their wages to be garnished or a lien placed on the defendant’s property. This can be a difficult step to take without an experienced and seasoned Washington D.C. car accident attorney on your side.
Contact Our Experienced Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers
When you are injured in a car accident in Washington DC, you have a right to file a claim against the negligent party responsible for your accident and your injuries. If your injuries are severe or have resulted in permanent disability, you may not be able on your own to collect the money you deserve. Especially if the “at fault” driver has minimal insurance, you need an aggressive and experienced personal injury law firm on your side to help you through this difficult time.
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our Washington DC car accident attorneys know that you need money to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and your lost quality of life. To learn more about your legal rights after a devastating injury accident, contact our law firm by calling (202) 742-1500 or filling out our confidential contact form. We offer a free initial consultation for all injured accident victims and can help you choose the legal path that is best for you. Call today!