Personal Injury Claims and Excess Policy Limits

I represented a woman who suffered catastrophic brain damage as the result of a car accident in Louisiana. The other driver was at fault, so we pursued a personal injury claim against the driver’s insurance provider. The negligent driver had a policy limit of $1.5 million, and the insurance company agreed to pay the policy limits. However, before the insurance company settled, it was necessary to obtain the testimony of a life care expert who estimated that my client’s future medicals would exceed $10,000,000. Since the other driver’s negligence was not an issue and the future medical bills were far in excess of the policy limits, it was in the insurance company’s best interest to pay the policy limits without going to trial.

Excess Judgement Award

The reason the insurance company would prefer to avoid trial with this type of case is the possibility of an excess judgment award.  If you go to trial and win a jury award that is in excess of the insurance policy limits, the defendant will be responsible for the jury award amount that is not covered by their policy. The defendant can then turn around and sue their insurance company for failing to pay the policy limits and placing the defendant in this situation. If the insurance company had settled for the policy limits, the settlement would have released the defendant and the insurance company from the lawsuit and any further financial obligations.

Excess Judgement for a Back Injury

This was the situation when my client suffered a ruptured disc as the result of a rear end collision on Highway 90 in Lafayette Parish. The defendant driver had an insurance policy limit of $50,000. The driver’s insurance company refused to pay the $50,000 and we went to trial, winning a $150,000 jury award. The defendant’s insurance company paid both the $50,000 policy and the additional $100,000 judgment in excess of the insurance policy.

These two cases show why it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney who will place the insurance company on notice of your intent to seek an excess judgment and who is