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"Policy Limit Strategy"

The amount of policy limits available in connection with a personal injury case can dictate how the case will be managed. In the past the policy limit issue was usually confronted after the settlement demand. In some cases the policy limits only are known after formal litigation has been initiated. Policy limits can always be confirmed under penalty of perjury by propounding interrogatories to the defendant. However, in some cases the failure to discovery the policy limits early can have a devastating effect.

Obviously, one of the most important goals of a personal injury claim is to fund the plaintiff with the money to obtain treatment. The kind of treatment and where the treatment is obtained can depend on the money available. In the State of California the minimum for liability coverage is 15/30 - fifteen thousand per person. In a case where it is known that there is only minimum coverage the plaintiff can choose to look for an early settlement. There may be sufficient evidence on the table early to justify a tender of the limits. Why wait? In some cases consideration is given to allowing for medical care on a lien basis. The doctors providing such services look to the reputation and integrity of the attorney to make the decision to provide treatment on a lien.

Assuming only appropriate and reasonable treatment is contemplated there needs to be an analysis as to whether or not there are enough funds to cover the care requested.

Other Considerations

Another important consideration is the availability of under insurance coverage. We encourage potential clients to bring in documentation of their coverage to help in the analysis. Under-insurance coverage comes into play after the third party case has been resolved. The amount of the third party settlement in most cases is deducted from the amount of UIM coverage available.

Many of our clients have what we call "cross-over" cases. These are cases that have both a workers' compensation and personal injury component. In those cases the employer may have purchased under coverage. Often we are forced to subpoena the coverage information from uncooperative employers through the subpoena power we have in the workers' compensation case. This information adds to our analysis and helps us with case strategy.

In addition, in many cases we are able to determine the amount of the third party coverage by way of a private investigator. The information we obtain in this manner is highly reliable but not perfect. Prior to settlement with the third party we require that the defendant disclose policy limits and assets under penalty of perjury.

Issues involving policy limits can make a difference in how the case turns out for the plaintiff and the doctor. Our firm has had remarkable success in getting doctors paid from personal injury settlements to everyone's benefit.


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