All too often accident victims are faced with serious injuries caused by a person with no insurance or inadequate insurance. Alaska law requires all drivers to have at least $50,000 in liability insurance for bodily injury and $25,000 in liablitity insurance for property damage. Even when the statutory minimum insurance has been purchased, injured people often are facing bills which exceed the available insurance.
Lack of adequate insurance coverage makes an already difficult problem a completely overwhelming and life changing event. However, there may be options available that are not obvious to the lay person. An experinced attorney can help injuried clients navigate through these challenges.
Investigating Insurance Coverages
When I am repesenting a client where there may be inadequate insurance, I start by looking at what insurance we know exists. Insurance companies for potential defendants, sometime are unwilling to disclose the amount of coverage, but they can be force to provide that information. Next, we look at the client's insurance coverage to see what, if any, insurance they have which may help pay the bills. We also explore other possible coverages. For instance, in an automobile accident case, the driver of a vehicle owned by another person should have his or her own coverage and the owner of the vehicle must have coverage on the vehicle. If the vehicle is a "company" car, then there may be a primary policy and an umbrella policy.
We also look for all the possible wrongdoers and their insurance policies. Sometimes, it is not easy to identify a person or entity who has some responsiblity for causing an accident, but that will be necessary if the accident victim is going to be fully compensated.
Assets other than Insurance Policies
In addition to insurance coverage, we look for assets of the wrongdoer. Just because there is inadequate insurance, that does not mean the wrongdoer is off the hook. If they have assets, those asset can be made subject to paying for the accident victim's expenses. However, it is not easy to get to the personal assets of an individual or company, unless they are very wealthy.
Also, the victims of violent crimes fund can be a limited sourse of revenue under some circumstances.
Negotiating Accident Claim Compensation
Once you know what insurance coverage and assets may be available, you will need to figure who will be trying to collect from the "pot" of assets and how the "pot" gets split. Fequently, negotiations must occur between multiple injury victims and their creditors over who gets paid what from the insurance and assets available from the wrongdoer. Insurance companies and health care providers may have their own claims against the available "pot".
None of this "process" is easy. It is particularly difficult for an accident victim and his or her family who is overwhelmed with the daily process of recovery. It is for that reason that hiring an experinced injury attorney to help is often the best solution. At least you will have someone in your corner who understands the system and can fight for your rights.