CA Car & Truck Accidents: Former Insurance Defense Lawyer Explains How To Get The Most Out Of Your Insurance

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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There are many possible damages available to victims of car accidents and truck accidents. Barry J. Simon, a California personal injury attorney who has been a tort litigator representing victims against insurance and other large companies for nearly 30 years, explained what damages may be available and how to get the most out of your insurance.

California Car and Truck Accident Damages

The types of damages available to California auto and truck accident victims vary depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, Simon explained what’s possible:

The damages available to truck and auto accident victims include economic damages that are reasonably caused by the accident, past and future medical expenses, loss of income and general damages, which is pain and suffering. There’s no limit on that except that there has to be some rationale, or reasonable relationship, between the economic and the pain and suffering and the punitive damages, if you can get those. However, there’s no limit or cap other than somebody might not have any assets and have limited insurance – which is more a problem with collecting on it, except for medical malpractice cases and death cases where the death was not caused by the accident.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Insurance

Simon, a former insurance defense lawyer who now works for plaintiffs, says that while California’s Financial Responsibility Law requires you to carry liability insurance, he recommends that drivers carry more than minimum – at least $300,000 or $500,000. He provided a personal example of why he recommends it:

My wife got hit by a truck and ended up having to undergo neck surgery. The truck driver only had $15,000 of insurance, but we had a $500,000 limit under our uninsured motorist/underinsured policy. So, believe it or not, I settled that one with Safeco, my insurance company, for $485,000 additional money without them even talking to my wife or obtaining a statement from her. That’s the value of having a good lawyer [and more insurance]!

Simon told us that the law penalizes drivers who don’t carry liability coverage. In those situations, injured drivers may be limited to economic damages and can’t receive general damages such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional stress. It penalizes drivers for not carrying liability coverage.

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