Navigating the aftermath of a car crash is overwhelming, especially when facing medical bills, lost wages, and other unexpected expenses. One question that often arises for crash victims in Indiana is whether they can sue for more than the policy limits of the at-fault driver.
If the cost of your damages exceeds the at-fault driver’s policy limit, you can sue the driver directly – however, most people don’t have the financial means to pay major out-of-pocket costs after a crash.
Fortunately, there are other ways to get the settlement you need for your injuries, such as umbrella policies that kick in after the original policy has been maxed out. Learn your options for obtaining full compensation after a car crash in Missouri and why you need an Indianapolis car crash lawyer to protect your rights.
What are the Standard Policy Limits in Indiana?
Every insurance policy has a maximum amount it will pay out for a claim. Once this limit is reached, the insurance company is not legally obligated to pay any more, regardless of the actual damages.
In Indiana, the minimum level of coverage required by state law is:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property
- Uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
While drivers may carry an auto insurance policy with higher limits, your settlement will be restricted to their liability coverage ceiling. If the driver only has the minimum coverages above, you won’t be able to receive additional compensation.
Other Sources of Compensation
While it might feel like you’re up against a wall, there are alternatives for pursuing compensation when one policy isn’t enough. Our car accident attorneys at Wagner Reese will help you explore the following options to determine if you are eligible for additional compensation:
Your Own Insurance: MedPay & UM/UIM
MedPay, short for Medical Payments coverage, is an add-on to your insurance policy that can help pay for medical expenses, irrespective of who’s at fault. If your injuries are severe and the other driver’s insurance isn’t sufficient, your own MedPay can bridge the gap.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM/UIM) is used when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or when their policy limits aren’t enough. This coverage is designed to protect you in such situations, allowing you to claim from your own insurance to cover the shortfall.
Indiana requires insurers to offer UIM/UM coverage with all standard liability policies. You should have this coverage unless you opted out of it in writing when you got the policy.
An umbrella policy is an additional layer of liability protection that kicks in when the underlying auto insurance is exhausted. If the at-fault driver has an umbrella policy, it can be a potential source of compensation beyond their standard car insurance limits.
For the injured party, this means a greater chance of receiving full compensation for their damages.
Placing a Judgment on the At-Fault Driver
In Indiana, you can sue the at-fault driver directly if you’ve been injured in a car crash due to their negligence and their insurance policy doesn’t fully cover your damages. If you prevail in court and the judge awards you damages, you’ll receive a judgment against the driver. This judgment is essentially a legal declaration that the driver owes you a specific amount of money.
Once you have a judgment, if the driver fails to pay, you can take measures to collect the owed amount. This might include garnishing the driver’s wages, placing a lien on their property, or seizing assets.
However, collecting on a judgment can be challenging, especially if the at-fault driver has limited assets or files for bankruptcy. Always consult with your attorney to evaluate the possibility of pursuing a judgment and strategize the best methods for collection.
Identifying Other At-Fault Parties
Not all accidents have a single responsible party. There could be scenarios where another entity, such as a manufacturer due to a vehicle defect or a governmental agency for poor road maintenance, shares some of the blame. If another party is partly at fault, their insurance could be an additional source of compensation.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Navigating insurance claims can be complex, especially when multiple parties and policies are involved. Here’s why hiring an experienced lawyer becomes invaluable:
- Identifying all potential sources of compensation: An experienced attorney can thoroughly investigate the crash, identify all at-fault parties, and ensure you’re tapping into every available source of compensation.
- Negotiating with insurance companies: Insurance companies are in the business of minimizing their payouts. A skilled lawyer knows these companies’ tactics and can negotiate on your behalf, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
- Peace of mind: The aftermath of an accident is emotionally and physically draining. By hiring a lawyer, you’re putting an advocate on your side. They will handle the legwork, allowing you to focus on recovery.
Our Indiana Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
While suing for more than the policy limits after a car crash in Indiana might not be a straightforward option, other avenues can help ensure you receive the compensation you need.
By enlisting the expertise of our experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese, you’re giving yourself the best chance to navigate the complexities of the law and identify all potential sources of compensation. We believe in helping our clients every step of the way, ensuring they never feel alone in their pursuit of justice. Contact us for a free consultation so we can review your case and help you on the road to recovery.