When a Car Accident Claim Exceeds Insurance Limits
Dec 15, 2022 | CHASENBOSCOLO
In severe car collisions, high medical expenses and a totaled vehicle might exceed policy liability limits. What happens when an insurance claim exceeds the policy’s limits depends on whether the collision occurred in an at-fault or no-fault state.
Minimum Policy Limit Requirements
Every state has its own requirements about how much liability insurance residents must purchase. Minimum coverage and types of coverage required vary.
In Maryland, all resident drivers must be insured by a vehicle insurance company that is licensed in Maryland. The minimum liability coverage required in Maryland is:
- $30,000 for bodily injury for one person
- $60,000 for bodily injury for two or more persons
- $15,000 for property damage
In Virginia, residents are required to purchase minimum liability coverage as required by Virginia law. The amount depends on the effective date of the policy:
Prior to 1/1/22:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage
Between 1/1/22 and 12/31/24:
- $30,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $60,000 for the injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage
- $50,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $100,000 for the injury or death of two or more people
- $25,000 for property damage
In Washington, DC, resident drivers are required to maintain certain liability minimums for general insurance and uninsured motorist coverage:
- $10,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 for uninsured motorist property damage
Types of Injuries That Will Likely Exceed Insurance Limits
There are various reasons that an insurance claim could exceed insurance policy limits. For example, many cars cost more than the minimum property damage coverage required in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC. This means that if a car is totaled in an accident, the cost of the car may exceed the insurance coverage if the driver maintains the minimum coverage required.
Additionally, a severe injury will easily exceed policy limits. Some examples of those injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Permanent disabilities
The medical costs of severe injuries can easily exceed policy limits because they may require expensive surgeries, treatments, medication, and even modifications to personal property to accommodate the injury.
What Happens When an Insurance Claim Exceeds Insurance Policy Limits?
Maryland and Virginia are at-fault states, meaning that if a claim exceeds a driver’s insurance policy limits, the injured party may choose to sue the at-fault driver. However, Maryland and Virginia operate under the pure comparative negligence doctrine. That means you cannot be at all responsible for the accident that injured you to receive compensation from the other driver. The accident must be entirely the other party’s fault before you can get money for your injuries and losses.
Washington, DC, is a no-fault state. Each party’s own insurance will provide their insured driver with the necessary compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. However, if certain criteria are met, then an injured individual may be able to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. The criteria required to bring a claim against the other driver are as follows:
- The medical costs exceed the injured party’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage limits, and
- The individual sustained a significant impairment, such as permanent scarring or disability that lasts at least six months.
If the sought compensation exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance limits and meets the required criteria of each state, then an experienced attorney may recommend bringing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver to hold them personally liable for the compensation above the insurance limits.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury lawsuit varies from state to state. If the lawsuit isn’t filed prior to the statutory expiration date, a court may dismiss the case without hearing it. You must file your lawsuit within a specified amount of time from the accident date:
- Maryland: three years
- Virginia: two years
- Washington, DC: three years
Contact Us Today
If you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in excessive property damage or injuries, an experienced personal injury attorney could fight for your best interests. The skilled car accident attorneys of CHASENBOSCOLO have ample experience dealing with insurance claims that exceed insurance limits. Contact us for a free consultation today at (301) 220-0050.