If the person who hit me has low limits on his insurance policy and my damages exceed that limit, how do I recoup my out of pocket expenses?

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If the person who hit me has low limits on his insurance policy and my damages exceed that limit, how do I recoup my out of pocket expenses?

I’m being told if I sue him in small claims court it circumvents his policy.

Asked on October 5, 2012 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may sue someone for any amount supported by his/her negligence and the facts of the case, such as the damage you suffered. For example, say that you incurred $20,000 of property damage (auto damage), but the driver who hit you only has $10,000 of coverage: you would sue him for the full $20,000. (Which means not suing in small claims court, but rather county court.) His insurer will then step in to defend and/or indemnify him (i.e. pay for him), up to the limits of its coverage. So if the liability (or fault) seems clear, the insurer might immediately pay you $10k (its policy limit), then your suit would continue for the other $10k. It's probably worth retaining an attorney and allowing the lawyer to help you.


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