Hi, I’m Roger Ghai, and I practice in the area of, areas I should say of automobile accidents and pharmaceutical defective products, defective drugs. Today I wanted to speak to you a little bit about automobile accidents and a question that I often get from clients, which is, “Why can’t I get the full amount of the other person’s insurance policy paid to me for my damages?”
Let’s take a real simple example. The typical policy at a minimum is $25,000.00 in Georgia, or sometimes it’s even a $1,000,000.00. Right? Sometimes what happens is I have a client who will have $3,000.00 in bills, and then the other driver has a half a million dollars, let’s say, in vehicle insurance liability coverage. I’ve had to have this conversation too many times with clients. They want on a $3,000.00 policy or treatment I should asy schedule, or they might’ve just treated with the chiropractor for six weeks. They want to get paid a half a million dollars, believe it or not.
I’ve had clients actually disagree with me about this and say that I was giving them wrong legal advice. The bottom line is this. The amount of the other person’s insurance company does not mean you’re entitled to get that amount. What determines the amount that you’re going to be able to get paid is the injuries. If you’ve got a serious injury, then you’re going to get a larger amount, whether it goes to trial or whether it actually settles out of court. If you’ve got a really relatively minor injury, on a $3,000.00 chiropractic bill, you’re not going to get a half a million dollars even though the other company has half a million dollars. That’s just not how it works.
If it did, I think that you’d have a lot of folks getting into accidents around town with minor fender benders trying to collect half a million to $1,000,000.00, and everybody would be hitting the lottery. That’s one of the reasons that you cannot get whatever the policy limits of the other driver’s insurance is. Sometimes people have questions. Clients have questions as to how we determine what the amount of the other person’s insurance coverages is. In Georgia, a lawyer or a person is required to submit an affidavit to the defendant’s insurance company specifically asking for them to disclose or to declare what the limits of the other person’s policy is.
We have to go ahead and send them a certified letter, and then that’s how we determine how much the coverage is, and the insurance company has to do a statement under oath, which has to be notarized. It’s fraudulent otherwise, and respond to us. As far as making a demand for the limits, we can go ahead if the case warrants it. Let’s say you’ve got 103,000.00, a better example, $103,000.00 in medical bills, and the other person only has $100,000.00 of insurance, and it was a rear-end collision. I actually have a case going on right now exactly like that. In that case, the defendant’s insurance company only offered a whopping $13,000.00 to the client.
I had a very pleasant conversation one morning with the adjuster who I think was trying to probably rattle me or rile me up and said, “Well, we’re going to offer you $13,000.00.” In a very calm voice I said to him, “All right, no problem. We’ll go from there.” That very morning what we did, because the client’s bills were $103,000.00, there was only $100,000.00 of insurance coverage, is I hired my investigator. I confirmed the address of the defendant because the defendant has to be served with the lawsuit, and then we filed suit that afternoon.
The important part about that is this. We had already demanded the $100,000.00 from the insurance company and they refused to pay it. In this particular case under one certain case law, Southern General Insurance Company versus Holt, we did what we call a Holt demand. That means this. Even though the defendant in this case only has $100,000.00 of insurance, if we go to trial and we win 300,000.00 at trial, guess what? The defendant’s insurance company has to pay the entire $300,000.00 because we gave them the opportunity to settle the case for fair value for the $100,000.00. At any rate, if you think that the insurance company is not treating you fairly and jerking you around, please call my office at 770-792-1000.