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Can You Sue for More Than a Defendant’s Insurance Policy Limits in Indiana?

May 13, 2022 | Personal Injury

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No law states that your lawsuit must match the policy limits listed in the defendant’s insurance policy. However, you won’t be able to recover more than the policy limits without legal action and a good Indiana personal injury attorney

To ensure you recover fully from the financial burden of an accident that is not your fault, you might need to evaluate several factors.

  1. Was there more than one party involved in the accident?
  2. Do you have additional insurance – such as underinsured motorist coverage –  that could cover some costs?
  3. Does the at-fault party have assets your lawyer can pursue to offset your expenses?

Injury cases can have several nuances. Here are some ways these additional factors could contribute to the total amount you list in your lawsuit.

Additional Involved Parties

Let’s look at a premises liability claim to understand how multiple parties could be involved.

Many businesses contract with maintenance management companies to aid in keeping a property up to date and safe for guests. For example, maintenance and management should know about a spill on the floor if they are doing regular rounds. Similarly, a maintenance company that certifies a handrail that then fails and injuries someone is their responsibility.

In some cases, the management company is responsible. In others, the maintenance service is liable. Sometimes, both are at fault for your injuries for their lack of attention to the duty of care they owe others.

Car accidents might seem clear and simple on the surface, but they can also have many nuances that lead to complicated scenarios of determining fault.

The city or county’s failure to maintain the roads or keep them clear of obstructions that interfere with clear visibility to avoid accidents could make them the liable party. 

Indiana has specific rules that set limitations for suing municipalities, including:

  • You only have 270 days after an accident to file a case against the state of Indiana and 180 days to file a case against a city or county
  • There is a compensation limit of $700,000 per person and $5 million per accident when a municipality is at fault
  • Punitive damages are limited to the greater of $50,000 or three times the compensatory damages

Additional Insurance Coverage

The main use case for this is for car accidents, bike accidents, and pedestrian accidents when your injury bills exceed the policy limits outlined in the defendant’s insurance policy and you have underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required in Indiana, which means you need to have this added coverage on your insurance policy. It can be helpful in the case of an accident with an individual who has no insurance or whose policy limits are so small that they do not provide adequate coverage to pay your bills.

Other forms of insurance coverage can include MedPay for car accidents or health insurance for any other type of accident. However, you’ll still need to pay co-pays and deductibles out-of-pocket.  

Pursuing Assets

When insurance coverage is not adequate to cover expenses, you can pursue assets from the defendant as well. This is especially applicable in cases involving businesses, as they are more likely to have liquid assets than individuals.

Insurance companies are not solely responsible for paying out when the insured fails to watch out for the well-being of others as they should. Talk to your attorney about whether this might be an option worth exploring based on your specific injury case.

Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

Another factor in the total compensation you can pursue from a personal injury accident is Indiana’s comparative negligence rule. This law states that if you’re partially at fault for the accident, your total compensation will be decreased by the percent you are found to have contributed to the accident. 

For example, if you were 40 percent at fault for an accident and had listed $100,000 as the compensation you were pursuing in the case, you would only get $60,000.

Deciding the right amount to list in your lawsuit will depend on your specific accident circumstances. Talk to the experts at Stewart & Stewart for more information and a free consultation.

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