Ask a Lawyer
Oct 29, 2013 | 1111 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My daughter was involved in an accident and the accident report said she was at fault. She is on my car insurance and my liability limits are $25,000. The person in the other car was taken to the emergency room by ambulance and it looks like they were hurt pretty badly. I am concerned if I have enough insurance to cover this accident. I don’t have much but I have worked hard for what I have. Should I hire a lawyer? Kelley, Cordova, AL

One of the things that you buy when you buy insurance is a lawyer paid for by the insurance company. An insurance company has the “duty to defend.” If you are sued, the insurance company will pay a lawyer to protect your interests. Obviously that lawyer will protect the insurance company’s money also.

Because insurance companies want to pay as little as possible and some insurance companies use computers to determine the value of an injury, often offers are made or claims disputed unrealistically. On the other hand sometimes claims are settled fairly.

If a lawsuit is filed against you or your family, talk to the lawyer assigned to handle your case and see what they plan to do. If, after reasonable investigation, it does not appear as if the case is going to settle but the insurance company is going to force the matter to trial in an attempt to save money, then you might consider hiring your own lawyer.

Insurance companies have a fiduciary duty (a very high duty) to look after your interests at least as much as they look after their own. They have the duty to make a knowledgeable, honorable and intelligent evaluation of the case. They cannot just try the case, see what the jury does and pay their policy limits leaving you on the hook for the rest if the case could have been settled within the limits of insurance that you agreed to buy.

If you have a real concern that that could happen, write your insurance company a letter and tell them that you want the case settled. Tell them that you understand that your daughter was at fault and that you are not willing to risk your assets. Tell them to settle the case. A copy of that letter in your possession if there is a verdict from a jury for more than the amount of the policy limits will go a long way towards a suit against your own insurance company for negligently failing to settle the lawsuit or a lawsuit against them for bad faith refusal to resolve this matter and protect your interests.

Keep in mind that the amount of insurance that you carry should bear a direct relationship to the assets that you own.

In many car wreck cases that have been tried to a jury in Walker County, there was not enough insurance to pay the amount the jury thought was fair. That creates a very real problem for everyone involved.

Nelson, Bryan and Jones represents clients in the following areas: Social Security Disability, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death Cases, Personal Injury Actions, Defective Products, Insurance Disputes and Bad Faith, Fire Loss cases, Trucking Accidents, Worker’s Compensation, Drug Recalls, Employment Law and Property Damage Claims.

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