If you’ve been involved in a car accident here in Virginia, and you’re trying to work with the defendant’s insurance company to resolve you’re case, you’ve probably realized that they will not tell you how much insurance the defendant has to cover your claim. (Heck, maybe you didn’t even think to ask!) Seems pretty unfair that they are asking for all this information from you, but you get little if any information from them.
Well here’s a couple of things to things to think about. And in particular, how to get the defendant’s insurance limits:
1. You’re not obligated to tell the defendant’s insurance company anything until you’re ready to pursue your claim (Of course, don’t forget about the statute of limitations.)
That’s right, you don’t have to give a recorded statement, endorse an HIPPA release, or provide them updated on your current recovery. In fact, you can simply tell them that you’re still figuring out what you want to do with your case and you will get back to them with your ready and willing. (Don’t worry if they warn to “close your case.” They know you can simply sue their insured, and they will simply re-open it). Again, in Virginia, the statute of limitations is generally two years (but in some instances, it can be shorter) so don't sit on your rights.
In fact, we often encouraged individuals to hold off on providing the insurance company information until you’ve had a chance to speak with an attorney about what your next steps should be.
2. Check your automobile insurance coverage.
Before you ask “why does it matter what kind of insurance I have, it’s there fault?” read my article that addresses this question here. And before you say, “well James, I’m fully insured,”watch my video on this subject here.
In reality, if it turns out the defendant has no insurance (or is under insured), if you have enough of your insurance, it may not matter. You can tap into your policy to cover your claim.
But for those if you who don’t have enough of your own insurance to cover your claim, it’s important to find out the defendant’s insurance limits. Here’s how to do it:
3. Requesting the defendant’s insurance limits.
In Virginia, there’s two main ways to compel the insurance company to provide you the defendant’s limits. The first is to file a law suit against the defendant and ask them about insurance limits in the course of the case.
To be clear, this is not the route you want to take immediately. Instead, Virginia law allows you to demand their insurance limits under Virginia Code Section 8.01-417(c).
Under that Code, you can are entitled to the defendant’s limits when you provide the following to the insurance company:
- The police accident in your case;
- Medical records establishing your claim injuries from the accident case; and
- At least $12,500 worth of medical incurred because of your accident.
Once you make the request, the insurance company then has thirty days to respond to your request.
Of course, if you’ve incurred at least $12,500 in medical bills in your case, you’ve been pretty seriously injured in your case. So you’ll likely (at the very least) want speak with an attorney about your case before you make the request. However, it’s not a complicated process.
James, I don’t have $12,500 in medical bills. How do I find out the insurance limits?
In Virginia, if the defendant is insured, that means he has at least $25,000 by law. Therefore, if you’ve got billing that doesn’t quite meet this threshold, there may very well be enough to cover your claim regardless. However, again you’ve always got the option to sue the defendant. Of course, before you go that route, you indeed want to talk to an attorney about your case.