- Automobile insurance
- Homeowners insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Employment practices liability insurance
- General liability insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
When someone causes harm and they are sued, they are called a defendant. The defendant’s insurance company usually provides a lawyer to protect the defendant and the insurance company’s money. If the defendant is found to have been negligent and therefore liable, then the insurance company pays the damages up to the amount of the insurance that the defendant purchased.
The amount of damages that someone can recover is often affected by the amount of insurance that the defendant has. This is because many people do not have assets sufficient to pay for significant damage awards. The law allows for defendants who have only been negligent and who have not engaged in intentional conduct to file for bankruptcy if they have a judgment against them that would exceed their net worth. If they do this, they have their obligation for these damages discharged, wiped away, by the court.
People with something to lose generally have higher insurance limits. People with little or no assets usually can’t afford the higher insurance premiums associated with higher coverage protection. Therefore, how much you can recover depends not only on who is liable and what damages you have suffered, but also on what kind and amount of insurance the defendant had at the time of the act giving rise to your claim.
Some insurance terms are described below.
All drivers in California are supposed to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance on their cars. This provides insurance to pay damages if they are liable because of an act of negligence. Statistics show that a quarter to a third of all vehicles on the roadway in California are uninsured. People can’t afford to pay the insurance premiums and drive without insurance. If they are caught, they can lose their license for a year and face stiff fines. That does not do you much good if you are hit by one and suffer damages. The minimum liability insurance required under the law is $15,000 per person, $30,000 per occurrence (for bodily injury, medical expenses and loss of wages) and $5,000 for property damage. This is often referred to as a 15/30/5 policy. That means if someone with a 15/30/5 policy causes a collision, their insurance will pay no more than $15,000 to any one person injured in the collision and no more than $30,000 to everyone, total, for all damages that occurred in the event other than property damage, for which there would be a $5,000 limit. This is true even if someone is killed. Therefore, many drivers cause injury damages in excess of the insurance coverage they have. If those drivers have homes or other assets, they may be forced to sell them to pay off any damages that they have caused or, if they don’t have assets, they may have to file bankruptcy. Policy limits can be increased by paying higher premiums. Limits go from 15/30/5 to multimillion-dollar policies. Common policy amounts are 25/50/10, 50/100/15, 100/300/50, 250/500/100, 500/1,000,000/100, etc. Often, in addition to automobile insurance, extra coverage may be available if the defendant is a homeowner through an umbrella policy connected to his or her homeowners insurance.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance
Because many drivers carry the minimum insurance, or none at all, you can purchase uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage on your automobile policy to protect yourself if you are injured by the negligence of another. If you refuse this insurance when you buy a policy, the insurance company needs to have a piece of paper that proves you have rejected this coverage. Otherwise, you are entitled to the protection provided. This allows you to have your damages paid for, including pain and suffering by your own insurance company if the person who hits you has no insurance or less insurance than you do. This is true even if you have some fault in the collision.
Your insurance company and you will enter a process called arbitration to determine if you are entitled to recovery and, if so, how much you will be paid. Again, you can recover under this coverage only if your underinsured/uninsured coverage is in excess of the amount of coverage that the person who hit you had. The amount of your recovery is reduced by your percentage of comparative fault, if any. It is worthwhile to maximize these coverage limits on your own vehicle policy to protect yourself. The Dolan Law Firm has assisted its clients in recovering millions of dollars from their uninsured and underinsured motorist policy coverage.
Medical Payments Coverage
This is insurance that you buy, on your vehicle policy, in case you get hurt. This provides for payment of your medical bills. Usually it comes in $5,000 and $10,000 increments. You are entitled to this coverage no matter who is at fault.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INSURANCE ON THE VEHICLE THAT YOU ARE DRIVING AT THE TIME YOU ARE INJURED, YOUR RIGHT TO COLLECT DAMAGES MAY BE REDUCED.
Towing and Rental Car Coverage
Your insurance may provide for a rental car while your car is being repaired. Likewise, it may provide for towing reimbursement. Check with your agent. If it does not, you may seek to have the defendant’s insurance provide you with a rental car while your car is being repaired. They do not always provide this service. If you rent a car, you can claim that cost as an element of your damages during the period your car is being repaired, or, if it is totaled, until the insurance company has evaluated your car and provided you a check for fair market value.
This is insurance that people take out to cover any liability for negligence that occurs on or because of their property. Usually, this insurance comes into play in a slip-and-fall, dog bite, stair collapse or some other injury-producing event linked to the property. In addition to covering any liability as a result of negligence, homeowners insurance often provides medical payments coverage for medical treatment for injury that happens on the property regardless of fault (usually up to $5,000). Therefore, if someone is injured on another person’s property, that injured party may be able to recover their medical expenses even if no one is at fault.
Another form of homeowners insurance is called an umbrella policy. This is a form of insurance that a homeowner can buy, for an extra premium, that covers the homeowner and family members for liability for any acts of negligence, whether or not the negligent conduct is connected to the homeowner’s house and property. The amount of coverage is often in excess of the value of the home so as to protect the home from being sold to cover any damages caused by negligence.
Professional Liability Insurance
This is insurance that doctors, hospitals, lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc. purchase in case they are negligent in conducting their professional affairs and their negligence causes damages.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
If you have been the victim of unlawful harassment, discrimination or retaliation; have been denied your legal rights to accommodation, medical leave or pregnancy leave; or have been wrongfully terminated, you may be entitled to compensation under this form of insurance. The insurance is purchased by the employer to protect the company from damages if one of its employees has violated your legal rights in the workplace. This insurance is becoming more common and makes it easier to settle your case. The Dolan law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its clients who have suffered unlawful treatment in the workplace.
General Liability Insurance
This form of insurance is purchased by companies to pay damages if one of their employees, while at work, is negligent and causes someone to suffer an injury. It is similar to an umbrella policy for a homeowner. Therefore, it is important to know if the defendant was at work at the time that they caused an accident or injury as that may provide an additional source of recovery.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
This is insurance that is required under the law, by all businesses, to provide compensation to workers injured on the job. This type of insurance does not require that you prove anyone was negligent. It is no fault, meaning no one needs to be shown to be at fault for you to recover. If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. You are not entitled to noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. If you are injured at work and someone other than you, your employer or a co-worker was responsible for your injury, you may have a separate legal action against that third party, whose insurance may provide for compensation for noneconomic damages.
Contact the Dolan Law Firm for a free case evaluation by calling 888-452-4752 or emailing us.