How many times have you gotten into a car with a friend, neighbor, or co-worker? Before accepting a ride do you ask to see their insurance policy? Do you check to see if they are covered or that their coverage limits would actually cover your injuries in the event that the unexpected occurred? The answer of course is “no,” but the case for a client we represented illustrates what can happen when you ride with someone who is underinsured.
Our client received horrible injuries after being involved in a car crash while riding with his friend. The driver’s auto insurance policy allowed for only $50,000 maximum injury coverage. Our client’s injuries far exceeded this amount. The first thing we did for our client was attempt to collect the $50,000 maximum from the driver’s insurance company. Despite being presented with medical bills in excess of $30,000 and evidence that he needed facial reconstruction surgeries, the insurance company only offered to pay $40,000. Our only option was to pursue the friend for our client’s injuries, and with our help, he was awarded a judgement against the driver in the amount of $500,000.
The story does not end there. Although our client was awarded a judgement, the driver was in her mid-twenties. Where was she going to get $500,000? For that matter, where would any of us get the money necessary to settle this judgement? The insurance company failed to fulfill the obligations of the policy by not acting in the best interest of their insured. Bottom line, the insurer acted in bad faith, leaving itself open for the driver to bring suit against it.
Hoping to save herself from the $500,000 judgement, a blemish on her credit, and the potential to lose whatever she may earn or gain for the rest of her life, the driver agreed to file suit against the insurance company and assigned that case to our client. We ultimately settled for over 5 times the policy limit.
Buying insurance is necessary and often required, but don’t be lured in to a false sense of security. Often times, we are purchasing insurance that carries limits far below what is necessary for the coverage to do what was intended: protect against catastrophic financial disaster. Make sure you have enough coverage to cover your assets, now and in the future. Even If you have enough coverage, you may need to hire your own lawyer to make sure your insurance company honors its promise to protect you.
Whether you are the injured party or believe your insurance company has acted in bad faith, legal options may be available to you. The legal process can feel intimidating, however, in some circumstances it is the only way to protect your rights and possibly your assets.
Before considering any legal action, you should thoroughly discuss your case with a qualified and experienced attorney. The Missouri accident lawyers at The S.E. Farris law firm have successfully represented clients in both injury and insurance bad faith/vexatious refusal to pay cases. Contact our office today for a free consultation. We will discuss your case and explore all options that may be available to you.
The S.E. Farris Law Firm
Phone: (314) 252-9937
523 N Laclede Station Rd. Suite 116 St. Louis MO 63119