What to do if we were In a multi-car accident and the car that caused the accident had only $10,000 insurance?

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What to do if we were In a multi-car accident and the car that caused the accident had only $10,000 insurance?

The police report confirms the party at fault. The insurance company sent us an offer to settle for a portion of our damages and we accepted. Now, 4 months later they have still not paid, claiming the other damaged party also needs to accept. Is there any way of getting the insurance company to pay? Can they legally delay the payment all these months?

Asked on May 27, 2014 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The insurance company has an obligation to their insured (the guy who caused the accident) to settle the matter with in the policy limits.  So they are waiting to have acceptances of all parties involved.  I am assuming that this is property damage only.  You can start an action against the person who has been singled out as causing the accident which will bring the action before a judge that can order the settlement paid but it may not move it along any faster.  But if the other damaged party does not accept then it may be what you have to do anyway. Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If there was a settlement agreement, then they have to pay as per the terms of the agreement, which usually provide for payment within a certain period of time. If the insurer doesn't pay according to the agreement, you can sue it for breach of contract (a settlement agreement is a contract) to force it to pay.

However, if there was no fully executed (agreed to and signed by everyone who needed to do so) settlement agreement, then they are not in breach by not paying--there is no enforceable agreement to breach. Rather, if you cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement or payment terms, your option would be to sue the at-fault drivers (remember: somone is only liable, or financially responsible, in an accident to the extent (s)he is at fault, such as by having driven carelessly, or negligently) to seek compensation.


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