Skip to content


What Happens When a Car Accident Claim Exceeds Insurance Limits?

When a car accident occurs, the damages and medical expenses can stack up quickly, leading to claims that potentially exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance limits. Standard auto insurance policies include bodily injury and property damage liability coverage, which come with predefined limits for how much the insurer will pay out in the event of an accident. These limits are often set at the state-mandated minimum or at levels that the policyholder chooses.

If a San Jose or Campbell, California car accident claim surpasses these limits, the policyholder may find themselves personally responsible for the remaining amount. This can pose a significant financial burden, as they may need to cover the excess costs out-of-pocket. It’s important for drivers to understand their insurance policy limits and the repercussions of claims that exceed those limits.

If your costs from an accident exceed the coverage offered by your insurance, a few options are available for compensation. You can seek the difference from the at-fault party personally, which can involve legal proceedings. Some policyholders have underinsured motorist coverage, which could provide additional funds in the event that the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient.

Photo of a Person Signing Documents

Understanding Car Insurance Limits

Insurance limits represent the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for a claim under a policy. In the context of auto insurance, this is crucial in determining how much coverage a policyholder has in the event of a car accident.

Insurance limits are particularly important in the aftermath of a car accident. They define the bounds of financial protection for both the policyholder and the injured parties. Specifically, liability coverage is the part of car insurance that pays for injuries and property damage that the policyholder causes to someone else.

California car insurance policies often have separate limits for bodily injury per person, total bodily injury per accident, and property damage per accident, commonly referred to in a split limit format, such as 50/100/25. This indicates coverage of up to $50,000 for injuries per person, $100,000 for total injuries per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

In the event that your claim exceeds these amounts, you may have to involve your health insurance plan (what a headache!) or even be personally liable for the difference. This can lead to significant financial hardship if your claim involves serious brain injuries or substantial property damage. 

Steps to Follow After Exceeding Your Car Insurance Limits

When a policyholder encounters that their car accident claim exceeds the auto insurance limits, there are several steps they can take to address the shortfall. 

#1 Review Your Policy: Start by thoroughly reviewing your insurance policy. Understand the coverages, limits, and terms to see if there’s any additional protection you might have overlooked.

#2 Communicate With Your Insurer: Promptly contacting your insurance company is vital. Discuss the situation and explore if there are any avenues within your policy, such as underinsured motorist coverage, that may provide additional funds.

#3 Legal Consultation: Seek legal guidance from the expert team at Caputo & Van Der Walde. Our team of legal professionals can offer advice on how to proceed, potentially negotiate with claimants, or represent you in court if necessary.

#4 Negotiation: Sometimes there’s room to negotiate with the other party involved in the accident. They may be willing to settle for an amount that is within your insurance coverage limits.

#5 Payment Plans and Settlements: Explore the option of a payment plan or a lump-sum settlement for the amount that exceeds your insurance coverage. These arrangements can be negotiated better with legal assistance.

Your Legal Options After Exceeding Your Car Insurance Limit

When a car accident claim surpasses the liability coverage limits, claimants and policyholders must navigate the complexities of legal options for injury compensation and dispute resolution. The law firm of Caputo & Van Der Walde can handle the intricacies of insurance disputes.

Personal Injury Cases and Compensation

In instances where insurance limits are not sufficient to cover the damages, you may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation. These cases hinge on proving the at-fault party’s liability and the extent of damages, which can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Ongoing treatment costs

It’s important to substantiate these claims with concrete evidence, such as medical records and employment documents.

How Legal Representation Can Help Your Claim

Securing a competent attorney becomes crucial when dealing with insurance disputes. The California car accident attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde will help you navigate through your best options, including negotiating with insurers to settle claims within policy limits or defending against personal injury lawsuits. Our lawyers specialize in such cases, so we know how to explore various legal avenues tailored to your specific situation. This might include:

  • Negotiating with the claimant’s attorney
  • Advocating in court for the defendant’s interests
  • Advising on financial strategies to address possible judgments
Person Taking Picture of Car After Head-On Collision

Maximizing Compensation After a California Car Accident

When involved in a car accident where damages exceed policy limits, it is crucial to pursue every available avenue to maximize compensation. This typically involves assertive negotiation tactics with insurance companies and may benefit from the specialized expertise of legal professionals.

Strategies for Negotiating with Insurers

Negotiating with insurance companies is a key step in maximizing compensation for clients. It involves a thorough review of the policy details and the circumstances of the accident to identify potential areas where the insurer may be compelled to offer a higher settlement. Presenting strong evidence and having a clear understanding of the claimed damages — such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering — can support a more favorable outcome. Detailed documentation and a calculated approach to negotiation are essential for advocating the client’s interests effectively.

Successful Settlements Handled by Caputo & Van Der Walde

The law firm of Caputo & Van Der Walde specializes in assisting accident victims to navigate the complexities of claims that exceed insurance limits. By employing a deep understanding of personal injury law and insurance regulations, our firm aims to secure the compensation our clients deserve. We offer legal expertise to rigorously manage negotiations with insurers, giving our clients an essential edge in maximizing recovery. Our representation is tailored to the nuances of each case, emphasizing personalized strategies that focus on the unique impacts of the accident on the client’s life.

We’ve been successfully handling cases such as these for years. Looking on our results page, you’ll see we’ve secured countless settlements in the tens of thousands and even millions. In one such example, a single-car rollover accident resulted in internal and orthopedic injuries to the passenger, including a 4 level spinal fusion requiring multiple surgeries and multiple colon surgeries. Our client was initially told that there would be no insurance coverage available, but after hiring our firm, and litigating the matter, 2 million dollars in coverage was discovered.

Contact our team to move your case forward.