Auto Accident – other insurance admits responsibility-full amount payable by both insurance companies-settle without lawyer?

Father was involved in veh accident 2-09. Other party ran a red light, has accepted responsibility. Shattered femur, surgery, heart attack next day after surgery. Father has been hospital/skilled nursing for 4 months. Had a stroke last month, now paralyzed on one side. Adjuster for his insurance said he will get the max from other drivers ins. and the rest will be paid by his underinsured policy. Max 50% to go towards medical.Can this be settled now with pending medical? Does it make sense to get a lawyer if they are going to pay max anyway? Should we just settle with insurance?

Asked on June 10, 2009 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Has the adjuster for the at-fault driver said your father will get the maximum? There is no guarantee that will happen.  I understand you'd rather not give an attorney about 1/3 of the settlement if you can settle it yourself, but you have to be careful because insurance companies will sometimes try to take advantage of people if they don't have an attorney.  Since the statute of limitations is 2 years in California, and the accident just happened 4 months ago, you have time.  Talk to the at-fault driver's insurance adjuster and find out what they are thinking in terms of settlement.  Do you know what their policy limits are? You can ask for a copy of their policy declarations sheet--they probably won't give it to you--but they would give it to an attorney.  This is the only way for them to prove what the limits are.  Then, when you know the limits, send a letter to demand the policy limits.  If they agree and send a check, fine.  Then you can make the underinsured motorist claim with your father's insurance.  But for that, I would wait until you know where your father stands with the medical stuff.  You might need a lawyer for dealing with your own insurance because it can get adversarial when you have a UM/UIM claim.  Take it slow.


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