Is your lawyer protecting you or the insurance company?
Troy SchwantJanuary 25, 2013 4:54 PM
(866) 735-1102 Ext 678
If you are currently a defendant in a lawsuit, its possible that your attorney is thinking about how to protect your insurance company and not you. Most, if not all car wreck cases involve a defense lawyer that has been retained by an insurance company.
The insurance company will evaluate the plaintiff's claim and if they think their insured is responsible, they will normally try and make a meager attempt at settling the claim. The insurance company's decision to not settle the case will require the injured driver to retain a lawyer, and file a lawsuit against the at fault driver. Now you have a situation where a defendant's insurance policy limits become vital in protecting the at fault driver from being subject to a judgment. The defendant is now at risk in the event the plaintiff recovers a judgment against the defendant for an amount over and above the insurance policy limits of the defendant. This is called an excess judgment.
Here is an example:
Driver X is struck from behind by Driver Y and sustains severe injuries and costly medical bills. Driver Y's insurance policy provides $50,000.00 in insurance proceeds available for Driver X in the event of such an accident. Driver X is willing to accept the $50,000.00 in order to release Driver Y from any liability associated with the accident. Driver Y's insurance company doesn't want to pay the full policy limits and attempts to only pay $25,000.00. Driver X sues Driver Y and a jury awards him $75,000.00. The insurance company pays the $50,000.00 that it owes and now Driver Y is legally responsible to pay the additional $25,000.00.
So instead of his insurance company protecting his interests, Driver Y now has a judgment against him/her in the amount of $25,000.00 that will follow him/her around until it is paid off.
If you have been named a defendant in a lawsuit recently make sure you ask "your" attorney if the plaintiff has offered to settle the lawsuit within your insurance policy limits. If so, make sure you demand that he settle your case so that you are not subject to an excess judgment. Make sure that your attorney is actually protecting your interests and not the interests of your insurance company.