Clients are always curious to know how much their car accident is worth. Unfortunately, there is no way for your lawyer to give you a dollar figure for your case as the outcome is dependent on numerous factors. Any lawyer that promises that he or she will get you a certain amount of money risks ethical violations and is someone you should likely steer clear of.
With that said, maximum recovery for your car accident is dictated by the other driver’s insurance coverage. Assuming that the other driver has insurance and is at fault, the other person’s insurance company is only obligated to pay up to what they have agreed to insure the other driver for in their policy. In Texas, the state has mandated that all drivers carry at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 of per occurrence for personal injury claims. This means that if multiple people are hurt by the insured, the insurance company only has to pay a maximum of $60,000 for the whole wreck. Remember, the insurance company’s obligation to its own insured (the other driver) is dictated by the insurance policy. In the policy, the insurance company only agrees to cover the insured up to the policy limits.
However, these are only minimums, and many drivers on the road carry much more coverage than this. A good car accident lawyer will go to work on the insurance company to determine what the coverage amounts are, which are contained in what is called the Declarations Page.
Regardless of what the coverage amounts are, it is true that the insurance company only has to pay up to and including the policy limits. Obviously, insurance companies work very very hard to pay less that the policy limits, and the amount that they are ultimately willing to pay without a trial is dictated by numerous factors such as your medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and impairment among others.
If for example you get in a wreck and the other driver is at fault and has $30,000 worth of coverage, then the insurance company in a worst case scenario will only be required to pay the $30,000. This is true unless your car accident attorney has served them with what is called a Stowers demand, which gets its name from the case G.A. Stowers Furniture Co. v. American Indem. Co., 15 S.W.2d 544 (Tex. Comm’n App. 1929). This case holds that an insurance company must act in good faith when settling a personal injury claim. If the insurance company is presented with a reasonable offer for policy limits that is refused, then this can be a breach of this duty. In other words, if a Stowers demand is sent for policy limits to the other driver’s carrier and that carrier rejects it, then the insurance company will be liable for any jury award at trial above the policy limits. Additionally, unreasonable refusal of a Stowers demand can also give rise to claims for the other driver to make against his or her own insurance company for breach of this duty.
A good attorney will work hard to gather all evidence necessary to establish your case’s value and be careful not to leave anything out. Once this information is obtained, your attorney should work with you to discuss what the value of your case is.
If you have questions about what your case is worth or what to expect after a car accident, give my firm a call at 972-478-4353 or submit a contact form.