Policy Limits Settlements

Today’s article is about policy limits and settling a personal injury case for the policy limit.  The take away from this article is two-fold.  The first part is about the limitations with regards to certain settlements.  This is important because even if you have a significant injury, there might not be enough insurance proceeds to properly cover the bills.

Signing document, Photograph of Jimmy Carter Signing Extension of Eq…

Signing document, Photograph of Jimmy Carter Signing Extension of Eq…—The U S National Archives (Flickr.com)

The second part that we will discuss is about the sad times when the insurance policy cannot provide complete compensation for the amount of injuries that occurred because of the driver’s negligence.  So, let’s start with a case that your favorite Atlanta personal injury attorney handled and received the full policy limits.

Another policy limit settlement for the Atlanta Lawyer!  This case has caused me mixed feelings, but I will explain.  By the way, the settlements or verdicts discussed on this site are not recent enough nor show any particular fact that could reveal the identity of  my clients.  Their business is personal and will stay so!

Their lives are private, and with those clients we worked very hard to get them back to their normal lives or as close to it as possible.  Now, back the topic at hand which is a policy limit case that was settled at Joseph P. McClelland, LLC.

What is a Policy Limit?

This is the maximum amount of insurance available on the policy of the at-fault driver.  In each state, a different amount can exist, but in Georgia the minimum amount of car insurance is twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).  Therefore, the most you could get without punitive damages would be $25,000.  That would be a policy limit settlement.  You can have additional insurance policies to recover from.

Signing document, Director Dan Ashe and Secretary Salazar Signing Vi…

Signing document, Director Dan Ashe and Secretary Salazar Signing Vi…—americaswildlife (Flickr.com)

Because of the accident, our client had to miss weeks of work.  She had suffered from daily migraine headaches for several weeks, attended physical therapy, and had to receive several injections into her back to help reduce the pain.  She had suffered a severe back injury and neck injury before this accident which made matters worse.  She was even sent home with her own transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit or TENS unit.  She was also instructed to wear a back brace for a few weeks.  She is still being prescribed and taking Hyrocodone for the pain for a couple of months.

Liability in this collision was clear because the other driver was charged with following too closely and a DUI less safe charge.  The police report indicates that the speed of the collision was in excess of 50 miles per hour and  my client’s vehicle was declared a total loss.

The client’s overall bills were paid at around two thousand dollars, so the client received a substantial amount of money.  We were able to dramatically reduce the amount of medical bills the the client was required to pay.

Why I am not super happy with the result?

This is because of several reasons.  The first is the pre-existing injuries.  Not a problem in my book.  If you told someone that I hurt my knee, they would not really respond dramatically.  But, if you then said, that is the same knee I had surgery on.  That same person would show more concern because it must fragile.  That is easy stuff, but an obstacle all the same.

The second was the drunk driver.  He blew under the limit, but that is not the issue.  It was just the fact that it existed because of the availability of punitive damages.  There is one downside about trying a case and getting more than the actual damages to the client, and that is time.  If the client was to settle and take the offer, I can only advise and let them choose.  That was the situation with this old case.  I have thought about it since and incorporated the lessons learned.  Now, this blog is for fun so I don’t reveal any of the strategies I use to settle or try cases, so how I incorporated those lessons is for clients only.  If you are another personal injury lawyer, I will be happy to discuss cases with you or assist you, as well.

Joseph P. McClelland, LLC represents plaintiffs in trucking accidents, motorcycle wrecks, car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, wrongful death cases in Atlanta, Marietta, Duluth, Norcross, Decatur, McDonough, Griffin, Jackson, Monticello, Macon, Forsyth, Barnesville, Midtown Atlanta and all of Georgia.

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For more information on Settlements in Georgia, see our post on settlement tip number two and our first tip on increasing the value of personal injury cases.  Thank you for taking the time to read this article on policy limits settlements in personal injury cases.