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What Happens if You’re Sued for More Than What Your Insurance Covers?

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Insurance companies cover most personal injury claims, most of the time. What they don’t do is cover all personal injury claims all of the time. So what do you do if someone sues you for an amount that is greater than your insurance coverage? There is more than one option, depending on your circumstances.

Insurance Policy Limits

Insurance is a contractual agreement between an insurance company and the insured. Insurance companies, of course, could not stay in business if they faced unlimited liability. That’s why it’s so difficult to obtain earthquake insurance, for example, or terrorism insurance. 

Example: Car Accidents

When it comes to mandatory minimum auto insurance, Nevada operates under a “25/50/20” system. That means:

  • $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability insurance;
  • $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance; and
  • $20,000 per accident in property damage liability insurance.

You can, of course, purchase more than the minimum amount of liability insurance.

“Per person” vs. “per accident”

So what’s the difference between “per person” and “per accident? Let’s look at some examples:

  • If the plaintiff suffers $15,000 in damages and there are no other injured parties, minimum liability insurance should cover all of the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • If the plaintiff suffers $26,000 in damages and there are no other accident victims, minimum liability insurance should cover all but $1,000 of the plaintiff’s damages,
  • If the plaintiff suffers $25,000 in damages, but two other plaintiffs also suffer $25,000 each in damages, the three injured parties must share $50,000. When this happens, the per-person limit doesn’t matter anymore.

If you want to purchase more than the mandatory minimum you need to do it before the accident, not afterwards.

Example: Dog Bites

Dog bites are among the most common of all personal injuries. Typically, homeowner’s insurance covers dog bite claims. Policy language matters, though. Many homeowners’ insurance policies exclude coverage for certain breeds of dogs such as pit bulls. 

When homeowners’ insurance applies, however, coverage limits tend to be much higher than the average dog bite claim.

Example: Medical Malpractice

Strictly speaking, Nevada does not require doctors to carry medical malpractice insurance. Many hospitals and clinics, however, do require it. 

If you are a doctor without sufficient medical malpractice insurance, you could be in big financial trouble if you lose a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Example: Wrongful Death Claims

Given the high value of human life, wrongful death claims tend to involve a lot of money. Depending on how the victim died, you may or may not have insurance to help you pay the claim.  

Example: Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are an extra amount that courts sometimes add to a personal injury claim to punish the defendant for outrageous behavior. Nevada personal injury liability insurance policies do not normally cover punitive damages.

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance could help you pay a claim that would ordinarily exceed your insurance resources, as long as you purchase it before the accident. Umbrella insurance can cover:

  • Excess liability costs, up to extended policy limits
  • Legal fees
  • Multiple claimants

Umbrella insurance can also cover claims for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other forms of legal compensation that are not typically covered under a standard auto insurance policy.

Deficiency Judgments

If you lose a lawsuit and cannot pay all of the verdict, a court can issue a deficiency judgment  

against you. This might mean wage garnishment, asset liquidation, and even bankruptcy. It might also mean the plaintiff simply walks away from their claim against you.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence applies when the plaintiff was partly at fault for the accident. This is one of the ways that you might defend yourself. The plaintiff might have suffered a slip and fall accident in your store while intoxicated, for example. In a best-case scenario, comparative negligence could completely relieve you of liability.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Could Make a Big Difference

If you’re being sued for more than the amount you can pay, you’ve got big problems. On the other hand, you might be an injured plaintiff who doesn’t want to drive their next-door neighbor into bankruptcy over a dog bite claim, but you still need money to cover your injuries. Either way, you’re likely to need the services of a Nevada personal injury lawyer.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

If you’ve been injured in Las Vegas, NV, and need legal help, contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation today.

De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers – Las Vegas Office
1149 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV. 89104
(702) 222-9999
Open 24 hours

De Castroverde Accident & Injury LawyersSummerlin Office
410 S Rampart Blvd, Ste 480 Las Vegas, NV. 89145
(702) 297-6373
24 hours open

De Castroverde Accident & Injury LawyersHenderson Office
9555 S Eastern Ave, Las Vegas, NV. 89123
(702) 997-4264
24 hours open

Areas We Serve

At De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers our personal injury lawyers serve the following localities: Angel Park, Anthem, Boulder City, Downtown Las Vegas, East Las Vegas, Gibson Springs, Green Valley, Henderson, Lake Las Vegas, MacDonald Ranch, McCullough Hills, Mission Hills, Paradise, Peccole Ranch, Queensridge, Reno, Seven Hills, Smoke Ranch, Spring Valley, Summerlin, The Lakes, The Strip, Whitney, and more.
We also represent accident victims in Oakland, CA.

About Our Firm

De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers, located in Las Vegas, NV, is a personal injury law firm established over 30 years ago.
We have 100+ years of combined experience securing hundreds of millions for injured people throughout Nevada. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today to discuss your case.

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