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What Happens If Your Personal Injury Claim Exceeds the Insurance Policy Coverage Limits

March 11, 2020 – Matt Albrecht

If you or your loved one suffered a serious injury in Eastern Washington—whether in a car crash, a slip and fall, or any other type of accident—you may be forced to deal with insurance policy limits. While running up against a defendant’s policy limit can be frustrating and confusing, you still have legal options available. Here, our Spokane insurance dispute attorneys explain what you need to know about claims that exceed the policy limits. 

How Do Insurance Policy Limits Work in Washington?

As defined by Insuranceopedia, a policy limit is simply the greatest amount that an insurance company will pay out in relation to a specific claim. 

As an example, imagine that you were injured in a crash with a distracted driver. The driver in question has an auto accident liability policy with a $75,000 limit. Under Washington law, that insurance company is only liable for a maximum of $75,000 in damages. 

Even if you have $90,000 in losses, you will not be able to get it through that specific insurance policy. The defendant, the distracted driver, may be liable for additional damages—but they will not be covered by the insurance policy.

Beyond the Policy Limit: Three Options for Collecting Excess Damages

Plaintiffs who have damages beyond the policy limit are not out of luck. There are some other paths that can be taken to pursue financial compensation. Specifically, the three primary options for collecting excess damages are as follows:

  • Pursue Compensation Through an Umbrella Policy: In some cases, you may be able to recover excess damages against an insurance policy held by the same defendant. Most often, this involves obtaining compensation through an ‘umbrella policy’—a type of insurance policy that “goes over” other insurance coverage. Many businesses have umbrella coverage. 
  • Bring a Claim Against Additional Defendants: You can always pursue excess damages against a second defendant who may also bear liability for your accident. An experienced Spokane, WA personal injury lawyer will make sure that every defendant is identified so that you can maximize your recovery. When multiple defendants are at fault, policy limits are less likely to be an issue. 
  • Hold the Defendant Personally Liable: Finally, negligent defendants can be held personally liable for damages in excess of a policy limit. Certainly, this is very difficult to do if the defendant has little or no assets. However, if the defendant does have financial assets, recovery is a reasonable possibility. 

Get Help From Our Spokane Insurance Lawyers Today

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Washington personal injury attorneys are strong, results-oriented advocates for clients. If you or your family member is running up against insurance policy coverage limits, we can help you navigate the process. To arrange a no cost, no obligation review of your case, please contact our law firm right away. Call (509) 495-1246. From our law office in Spokane, we represent clients throughout the region, including in Airway Heights, Country homes, Medical Lake, Spokane Valley, and Sprague. 

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