This can actually help you get money sooner. In fact, it may not hurt you at all!
This is because the cap on your recovery is not going to be the other driver’s policy; the cap will be the highest insurance limits which apply to the loss. And once the other driver’s insurance company becomes convinced your loss is bigger than their own policy limits, they have to offer their limits.
Let me explain this with a couple examples.
Let’s say that you have $300,000 of underinsured motorist coverage that you carry on your own car with All American Coverage Company. You’re hit by Peter Poor, who has $50,000 of liability coverage with Internet Minimum Cheapo Insurance Company (Cheapo), no job (he just got fired) and no assets.
You break your arm in the accident, need surgery, sustain permanent injury and accumulate $35,000 in medical bills.
Cheapo will probably learn all it needs to about the case, then call up your lawyer and offer him its policy limits – $50,000 – immediately in exchange for releasing Peter Poor, their insured.
(Why would they do this? Because if you get a judgment for more than $50,000.00, Peter Poor will have to pay the excess over their limits, and they have a special duty to protect him.)
After your lawyer has notified All American of the offer, and given All American a chance to substitute its own money for Cheapo’s offer, he can sue All American under your underinsured motorist coverage, and try to get whatever more the claim is worth.
And the defendant in that lawsuit will probably not be Peter Poor, but an insurance company!
Why is that good? Because juries usually aren’t wild about insurance companies.
On the other hand, let’s say you have the same accident and the same injuries, but this time Peter Poor has $1,000,000.00 of liability coverage with Cheapo. You think the case is worth $100,000; but Cheapo disagrees, and they don’t have to make an offer.
(Why not? Because they have more than enough insurance to protect Mr. Poor against the biggest judgment you are likely to get under these facts.)
Your lawyer might have to take the case all the way up through trial to get any money at all. And he won’t be trying the case against the insurance company, but against a real person – Mr. Poor.
The jury won’t even find out that Mr. Poor has any insurance, because the law doesn’t want the insurance company to be prejudiced.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. It’s always good to have more insurance coverage than the minimum. If you have a personal injury case in Cincinnati, Ohio or if you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.