What if my damages exceed the at-fault driver's insurance coverage limits?

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Accidents can lead to serious — and expensive — injuries. While you can recover compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer, most drivers only carry minimum car insurance coverage. If your accident-related damages exceed insurance coverage limits, our Washington auto accident attorney advises that you may have other options to pay for your damages.

Depending on your unique circumstances, these options can include:

Underinsured Motorist Protection in Washington car with windshield broken with truck behind it

Underinsured motorist protection (UIM), not required under Washington State law, will cover what the other driver’s insurance coverage will not. UIM can pay for your damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, up to your policy’s limit.

Remember that UIM is optional. If you did not purchase it, or you did not choose a high enough amount of UIM coverage (in most cases, your UIM coverage will need to be higher than the other driver’s liability coverage to collect compensation), this coverage will not help.

Your Personal Injury Protection Coverage

Personal injury protection (PIP) is another optional coverage available to drivers in the State of Washington. PIP coverage, available between $10,000 and $35,000, can help pay some of your damages, including medical bills and lost wages.

If you do not have PIP coverage, but someone in your household does, you can use his/her coverage to pay for your injuries.

The Driver’s Umbrella Liability Policy

Some people have an umbrella liability policy as additional coverage with their insurance. If the driver has an umbrella policy, you can use it to recover damages that exceed his/her automobile liability coverage.

It is important to note that the driver’s insurer will not make this information readily available. Some investigation may be necessary.

The Driver’s Employer

Another possible option is making a claim against the driver’s employer. If the at-fault driver was on the job, whether in a company car or not, you might be able to hold the employer liable for some or all of your damages under the concept of vicarious liability company will defend against your claim aggressively; we will fight for you to get the full amount you deserve.

Your Health Insurance Policy

You might also be able to use your health insurance if you have exhausted all other options. Before relying on your health insurance, check your policy to ensure that it does not specifically exclude car accident injuries.

Note: In many cases, your health insurance company will expect you to pay back whatever costs it covered from your accident.

A Third Party

In some cases, more than one person is responsible for an accident. If there is another liable party in your accident, such as another driver, the government entity in charge of road maintenance, or a manufacturer responsible for a defect, you may be able to recover compensation from that party.

The Driver’s Personal Assets

If you did not purchase UIM or PIP coverage, do not give up hope. You can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to obtain a judgment. If the driver has substantial assets, this could be worthwhile.

We can determine whether filing a suit would be beneficial in your situation.

There are multiple options for recovering compensation if your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage limits. These options can be tricky to navigate.

A lawyer can help you explore these various options and choose the path that is best for you. It may be possible to pursue more than one of these options, depending upon the facts of your case.

Where can I get help determining my options?

Even though your insurer should be working for you, this is rarely the case. Recovering the compensation you need from your own insurer can be just as difficult as recovering it from another insurer. But you are not alone.

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident and the other driver’s insurance will not fully cover your damages, you need the advice of a Kirkland auto accident attorney. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we will determine your options, negotiate with your auto or health insurance company, or represent you in court if we believe that is the best option for your case.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.