A multi-vehicle wreck or multi-car pile up can have serious consequences. Accident victims in wrecks involving multiple people with injuries sometimes find themselves battling each other for compensation from a limited fund.
The More Injured People In An Accident, The Less Insurance Available:
If you have been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, there is a real possibility that the amount of compensation you may be able to recover from the at-fault insurer will be limited. Why? Because auto insurance policies in Louisiana have bodily injury and property damage liability limits that cover the entire accident, and do not increase based on the number of injured people or vehicles involved.
Say you are a victim of a car wreck on US Highway 190 in Covington. It was a major accident involving multiple vehicles. The at-fault driver clipped a car, then rammed into the back of your truck, causing you to hit the vehicle in front of you. All three vehicles were totaled. To make things worse, each of the three vehicles had a passenger in them, and all 6 occupants (drivers and passengers) were injured.
The at-fault driver had State Farm. He had the minimum 15/30/25 coverage. That means, he had bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $15,000 per person up to a limit of $30,000 for each accident (everyone who was injured), and property damage limits of $25,000.
In this scenario, State Farm will have only $30,000 TOTAL to cover the medical expenses and general damages of all six injury victims. Unfortunately, all six went to the hospital and the ER bills alone total $40,000. What makes matters worse is that all three vehicles were totaled and have a combined actual cash value of $80,000. State Farm only has $25,000 to cover this.
As you can see, getting in a muti-vehicle wreck can mean that the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may be inadequate to cover the losses.
What Will The At-Fault Insurance Company Do If Their Limits Are Not Sufficient?:
As an initial step, the insurance company for a driver who causes a multi-vehicle and/or multi-injury wreck will try to figure out if it can settle the claims of all the drivers with the amount of coverage it has available. If they believe this is possible, they will request that all the parties send in their claim information, including medical bills and records, and then make settlement offers to each claimant.
If, on the other hand, the insurance company realizes that settling all the claims within its policy limits will be impossible, it will do one of two things. Sometimes the at-fault insurance company will try to determine the most serious claims and try to settle those from the policy limits. If they can, they have effectively eliminated the most serious exposure to their insured (the at-fault driver). However, it also means that several other claims, albeit smaller claims, may remain to pursue the at-fault driver personally. (As a side note, the at-fault driver’s insurance company would still have to provide them with a defense if they were sued).
If the at-fault insurance company decides that it is impossible to settle with any of the injured claimants within its limits, it may not make personal injury offers to anyone. In such a case, the injured parties would have to sue the at-fault driver and his insurance company.
Finally, with regard to property damage, in Louisiana the at-fault insurer is legally required to pay such claims. In a multi-vehicle accident involving a limited amount of property damage coverage, the insurance company typically evaluates each person’s loss, then divides the available policy limits “pro-rata” (proportionately) among the claimants.
So, what should you do to avoid this scenario?
How Do I Protect Myself From Limited Insurance?:
Having an efficient and fast attorney on your side is one step you can take to help maximize your recovery in a multi-vehicle accident case. An attorney who quickly gathers your medical bills and records and submits adequate proof of loss to the insurance company gives you the best chance of recovering before everyone else. If the at-fault insurance company decides that it doesn’t have enough coverage to pay all the claims, but decides to pay some of them, having your paperwork ready on their desk gives you the best chance of recovering.
Also, make sure to have UM (uninsured/underinsured motorist) and collision coverage! We cannot stress this enough and have done many other articles on this issue alone. UM insurance will provide additional insurance to you in the event the at-fault driver was uninsured or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your injury claim. Collision coverage is similar and covers damage to your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault for the wreck. Make sure you have these coverages!
Have You Been In A Multi-Vehicle Accident And Are Worried That The Number Of Injured Claimants Will Diminish Your Claim Value?
If you have been injured in a multi-vehicle car wreck and are worried that the number of injured claimaints will diminish your claim value, contact us online or call our Covington office directly at 985.590.6182 to schedule your free consultation today. Flattmann Law serves clients on the Northshore, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom, Madisonville, Goodbee, Hammond, Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell.