Being licensed in three states has many advantages when it comes to serving our clients. Recently, I spoke with a fellow Nebraska attorney who was handling his first Kansas auto accident. The at-fault party had $25,000 available in coverage, while his client had underinsured motorist coverage available at $25,000. The injuries were significant, and the attorney did not understand why he was not able to get any of the underinsured coverage.
In Nebraska, the law is relatively friendly for folks involved in an auto accident. If an insurance company refuses to settle a case within the policy limits available and a judge awards a victim more money than was available in the policy (commonly referred to as an excess judgment) then the insurance company is on the hook for the entire amount given in the verdict. Likewise, if there is not enough money available from the insurance proceeds of the at-fault driver then a victim can use their own underinsured motorist coverage on top of that to get a just amount for their injuries, pain, and suffering.
For example, say a Nebraska accident victim has $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and the other party has $100,000 available in liability coverage. The victim can recover the full $150,000 between the two companies. However, the situation would be handled differently in Kansas.
Kansas does not allow for both coverages to be stacked. Staying with the example above, if the same accident had happened in Kansas, then the most that the victim could recover is $100,000. They would be able to get the full $100,000 from the other party, but their underinsured motorist coverage would not be used at all.
Now, if our Kansas accident victim has $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and the other party has $25,000 available in liability coverage then our victim can recover a maximum of $50,000. He or she can get the $25,000 from the other party’s insurance, as well as $25,000 from their underinsured motorist coverage. The $50,000 amount is the cap set by the highest coverage.
Both scenarios show why it is important to find an experienced attorney who can help you through the swarm of different laws from place to place. The lawyers at Patterson Legal Group are well versed in the differences — big and small — in how car accident settlements are handled in all the states we serve. Whether you’re using the laws of the state your accident took place in or the laws of the state where you’re insured, you can count on Patterson Legal Group to find the best solution and win the highest possible settlement for you.