You were injured in an accident in California, and your medical bills are piling up fast. An ambulance bill...an emergency room bill...x-rays. You may want to see an orthopedist or get physical therapy or chiropractic care.
You are concerned that the person at fault may not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills, so you'll have to pay the bills out of your pocket.
Whether a dog bit you, or you were injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, or slipped and fell on someone else's property, this is a legitimate concern.
CAN YOU FIND OUT THE DEFENDANT'S POLICY LIMIT?
The answer depends on whether you've filed a lawsuit yet.
After You File a Lawsuit
After you file a lawsuit, your personal injury attorney will serve the defendant with a document called "Form Interrogatories." These are questions which the defendant must answer in writing under oath. One of the questions, Form Interrogatory 4.1, asks whether the defendant had any insurance that might cover your injury claim at the time of the accident. In answering the interrogatory, the defendant must disclose all insurance policies which might apply to your injury claim, including umbrella policies and each policy's limit.
Before You File a Lawsuit
Before you file a lawsuit, the defendant has no duty to disclose the amount of his policy limit to you or your personal injury attorney. Only if the defendant authorizes it can his insurance adjuster disclose the policy limit amount. Sometimes the defendant authorizes disclosure. Sometimes, the defendant doesn't.
Suppose the medical bills you have submitted to the insurance company are low, and the defendant's policy limit is high. In that case, there's a good chance the defendant won't authorize disclosure, fearing that if you find out there's plenty of insurance, you'll just build up more medical bills.
However, if you have submitted substantial medical bills to the insurance company, and the defendant has a low policy limit. If your claim is worth more than the policy limit, the insurance company will likely disclose the policy limit.
How to Find Out Someone's Insurance Policy Limits in California
In California, you can find out someone's insurance policy limits by asking the driver, checking the police report, contacting the insurance company, or filing a lawsuit. The insurance company must disclose your policy limits within 30 days of your request.
Gather all of your medical records, bills, and documentation of any lost wages, and submit the documentation to the defendant's insurance company with a letter demanding immediate disclosure of the policy limit.
That will trigger the insurance company to send a letter to the defendant asking if he wants to disclose the policy limit. This will get the ball rolling. If more medical bills and reports are generated, funnel them to the adjuster. The more documentation of your injury you provide to the adjuster, the more likely the policy limit will be disclosed.
If you have a personal injury attorney, ask your attorney if he has requested disclosure of the defendant's policy limit. If the answer is no, ask why not. Too often, I've taken over personal injury cases from prior attorneys who did not attempt to determine the defendant's policy limit. Oftentimes, the attorney referred the client for expensive medical tests without regard to the policy limit. It's the client who suffers in this case, not the attorney. The client is the one on the hook for the medical bills. And know this: even if your medical treatment was rendered on a lien basis, you are still on the hook for those bills, regardless of the outcome of your case. If there's not enough insurance to pay your medical bills, you are still legally obligated to pay them.
You don't want to end up with more medical bills than there is insurance to cover them. You need an aggressive California personal injury lawyer who will use all ammunition to find out the defendant's policy limit.
For a free consultation or second opinion on your personal injury case, call our Los Angeles attorneys, McGee, Lerer and Associates: (800) 999-9948.