What Happens if My Car Crash Claim Exceeds Policy Limits?

close-up of auto insurance policy and keysCar insurance claims are often challenging and stressful, especially to the injured victims dealing with multiple medical bills. The light at the end of the legal tunnel is the hope of being awarded fair compensation to help you cover your losses. However, what happens if your claim exceeds the policy limits of the at-fault driver? Are you stuck paying the remainder of those costs out of pocket?

Greg Coleman Law explains more about insurance limits in a Tennessee car crash claim and what other options you may have if your claim exceeds the insurance policy limits.

Injured in a car crash? Call our Knoxville vehicle accident lawyers for legal help today. Our firm has a long and proven track record, recovering millions for our clients. 

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Why Insurance Limits Matter to Your Claim

Medical bills, car repairs and other expenses quickly mount up, and most people cannot pay those costs out of pocket. Car insurance is there to make sure drivers have a way to cover the damages caused by a car crash. That said, the amount an insurance company will pay depends on a few factors, including the limits of the coverage purchased.

For example, what if the at-fault driver only carries the minimum amount of coverage required in Tennessee? The state's minimum requirement for bodily injury protection is just $25,000. The insurer will not pay more than that the policy's minimum, even if your injuries cost more. In fact, there is no guarantee the insurance company will agree to pay the maximum. They will definitely do all they can to pay out as little as possible. Insurance companies operate with their best interests in mind, not yours.

When Your Claim Exceeds the Limits

If the at-fault party only carries the state's minimum required insurance coverage, it is unlikely the limits will often not be enough to fully cover the damages in a car crash claim.

This is especially true after accidents where the at-fault party only carries Tennessee's minimum required insurance coverage and:

  • Your injuries are extensive or life-altering: The minimum coverage in this situation would only provide $25,000 of bodily injury protection. Despite the serious injuries you sustained, the insurance company will not pay more than the limits purchased by the driver.
  • Multiple parties were injured in the same crash: If one to two people are injured, each individual may collect up to $25,000 for their injuries. If there are three or more injured victims in the same crash, the limit is $50,000. However, that amount is not per person, the total is divided between the three victims, and no one can collect more than $25,000 from the policy.

Other Options for Seeking Compensation

If you find yourself in the position of needing additional compensation after a car crash that caused you to suffer damages, these are some other options that may help:

  • File against the at-fault party personally: Tennessee is a "fault" state, so the driver who caused the crash is responsible for all the damages. If he or she lacks sufficient insurance coverage, you may be able to go after personal assets. Beware, though, this could be costly, since you will have to file a lawsuit and go to court. In the end, it will likely yield you very little in return, especially if the at-fault party has limited assets.
  • Turn to your insurance policy: You can seek additional compensation up to the limits of your own policy, which may or may not be helpful. In this situation, you cannot recover more than a combination of your policy and the other party's policy. For example, if you have purchased $50,000 of bodily injury protection, you can only seek up to $25,000 more. The other $25,000 will come from the at-fault party's insurance. 
  • Optional coverages you may have: If you purchased extended coverages or an umbrella policy, you may have additional options for seeking compensation under those coverages.
  • Other third-party defendants: When there are other liable parties responsible for your crash, you may be able to seek additional compensation through their insurance policies.

Contact Our Law Offices to Discuss Your Legal Options

If your claim has merit, our qualified attorneys are prepared to research all possible sources of available compensation on your behalf. Contact our law offices today to schedule your free initial case review. There is no obligation to take legal action with our firm after this meeting.

At Greg Coleman Law, there are no upfront costs to pay if we represent you or while we work on your case. We only get paid when you do.

Talk to a lawyer today. Ph: (865) 247-0080