Three Things That May Happen When Someone Intentionally Crashes Into You
Intentionally causing an auto accident is dangerous, so you'd think people would not act so recklessly. Unfortunately, folks often act in irrational ways. While resolving this kind of accident may seem easy, it can actually be more complex to deal with than a regular one. Here are three issues you may need to contend with if someone intentionally crashed into you.
The Insurance Company May Not Pay
In cases where the other driver is clearly at fault, you would file a claim with the individual's insurance company so the provider would pay for the damages its client caused. However, in situations where the liable party purposefully caused an accident, you may end up with nothing. To prevent fraud, insurance companies have contract clauses that exclude coverage for accidents clients cause on purpose, so the insurer won't pay claims made by policyholders for damage to their own vehicles. Unfortunately, sometimes the company will also deny claims made by the accident victims.
If this becomes your situation, you'll have to sue the person directly for compensation, which can be risky. While you may win the case, there's no guarantee the person will pay the judgment, and you may have to employ many collection activities to get the money owed. It's best to consult with an attorney about this issue. The lawyer can do an asset check on the liable party to determine if the person has enough money to pay your costs, and help you employ various methods to satisfy the judgment, such as garnish the person wages.
Your Insurance Company May Take Some of Your Court Award
Although the offender's insurance company may not pay your claim, your own provider might. In fact, in some states, you are required to file claims with your insurance company first before going after the defendant. In either case, your insurer will contact the defendant for reimbursement. This wouldn't be a problem except, if you have to sue the defendant directly or the defendant's insurance company ends up reimbursing you for your damages, your insurer may ask you to pay back the money it gave you for your claim.
It may seem unfair, but the law allows this to prevent policyholders from receiving double payments. Because your insurance company already paid you, any money you receive for the same accident from the defendant would be considered double-dipping, thus you would be required to give back what basically amounts to an overpayment. Sometimes you can negotiate with your insurer to take less than what it's requesting, but you would have more success with this option by having an attorney talk to the company on your behalf.
You May Be Awarded Punitive Damages
Once you prove the defendant intentionally caused the auto accident, the court may award you additional money above and beyond what you're asking for. These are called punitive damages because the purpose of giving you the extra money is to punish the defendant for his or her recklessness. At first glance, that may seem like a boon. Depending on the severity of the accident and the defendant's behavior, you may be awarded tens of thousands or even millions of dollars in punitive damages.
However, this could present a problem depending on how much insurance coverage the person has. It's a possibility the amount of punitive damages awarded would exceed the policy limits. If the insurance company agrees to pay the judgment, you may only receive part of the amount owed, leaving you to collect the rest directly from the defendant.
Luckily, once you receive the judgment, there are several collection tools available. As noted previously, you can garnish the defendant's wages. You'll also be able to put liens on the person's property or take money directly from their bank accounts. An attorney can let you know what your options are for ensuring the defendant pays your court award in full, so you should meet with one at the first available opportunity after the accident.
For help with your case, contact a car accident lawyer.