When you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit for serious car accident injuries, you usually file your case against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. In some cases, there are multiple parties that have to split the damages because they were all “at-fault,” but when you file a case against one individual, they have to pay for all damages themselves. In many cases, insurance policy limits mean they can’t afford all damages. How often does this happen? Fayetteville, AR car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how this is far more common than you might expect, and he explains what you can do about it.
How Many Car Accident Cases in Arkansas Go Over the Policy Limits?
Policy limits are often very low on insurance policies. Under Arkansas law, the minimum insurance policy that you need to carry is a $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 policy. This means that the policy must cover $25,000 in injury to one person, $50,000 in injuries to multiple people, and $25,000 in property damage. Thinking about those numbers and the cost of the damages you could face, it is quite possible that an injury could exceed these amounts. $25,000 for injuries might seem like a lot, but a CAT scan or an MRI could take up a quarter of that budget on its own – and $25,000 might not cover a new vehicle’s repair or replacement costs in full.
It does often take a severe crash to overcome these policy limits. In the vast majority of car accident cases, there are no injuries at all – just property damage. Still, injuries can add up quickly, meeting a $25,000 limit even if the victim does not have long-term care needs. However, a policy could also cover more than these minimum required limits, allowing more crashes to be covered by the policy without maxing out its policy limits.
However, insurance policies have other restrictions and limitations that often mean the insurance policy falls short of covering the victim’s needs. Auto insurance policies are designed to cover medical bills and lost wages related to an accident – these are the well-documented “economic” damages that most victims face. If a victim is killed, the accident might pay for other things like funeral and burial costs. However, most insurance policies do not cover pain and suffering or other “noneconomic” damages, leaving the victims out in the cold on coverage for these needs.
In this sense, nearly any car accident case is going to involve an insurance policy that falls short of covering the victim’s needs in full, but not necessarily because the policy was maxed out.
What to Do If Your Car Accident Claim Exceeds Policy Limits in Arkansas
In Arkansas, an at-fault driver’s insurance is supposed to cover the crash. This is because Arkansas uses an “at-fault” system instead of a “no-fault” system (which would mean that each driver’s insurance covers their own injuries regardless of who was at fault). When you sue for damages and the other driver cannot afford the full cost, there might be other ways to get additional damages with the help of an Arkansas car accident attorney.
No-Fault Add-On coverage
In Arkansas, you can get first-party “add-on” coverage that will cover some of your own injuries in a crash. This coverage kicks in first, then, if your damages go beyond your “PIP limit,” you can sue the at-fault driver. These damages can go a long way in an injury case where the at-fault driver’s insurance is too low to cover your needs and they cannot afford to pay the additional damages.
Suing Multiple Parties
To get damages through a lawsuit, you might not have to take the case against the individual driver by themselves. If you were hit by a commercial driver, such as in a trucking accident or in an accident involving a driver going to or from a work site, you could be entitled to sue their employer as well. If you were injured in a multi-car accident, you could also be entitled to sue multiple drivers for causing the accident. There may even be multiple defendants if another third party was responsible for negligent maintenance on the vehicle, auto defects, or medical malpractice in treating your injuries. All of these damages could mean suing additional people who carry additional insurance policies and who are more likely to be able to pay out of pocket for damages.
If you sue an individual for damages and they cannot afford to pay damages beyond the insurance policy’s coverage, they might be said to be “judgment-proof.” However, you could be able to attach savings accounts, property, and other assets to the judgment so that they can be sold off to cover the damages. Talk to a Fayetteville, AR head-on collision accident lawyer about the possibility of seeking this kind of enforcement for judgments.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If there is no other way to get your damages covered, your own insurance might kick in. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (“UM/UIM coverage”) can often help pay for damages when the at-fault driver’s insurance is too low to cover the victim’s needs. Talk to a lawyer about whether you have this kind of coverage and whether you can claim damages that way.
Call Our Fayetteville, AR Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a car crash in Arkansas and you need help getting damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today. Ken is a Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer with decades of experience fighting to get drivers the coverage they need after a crash. For a free case consultation, call us today at (479) 316-0438.