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The short answer is, it depends.
In a normal Personal Injury case the person who harms you is responsible for providing you with compensation for your injuries. Since most Americans live paycheck to paycheck and often could not afford to pay your medical bills in event of injury, their insurance company steps in to pay out any compensation that you are entitled to.
However, what happens when the person who hit you does not carry insurance? Can you go after them individually?
In that case, you should utilize an attorney to check on whether the other person has vulnerable assets that might be subject to a money judgment.
At Harris Law Group, we recently recovered over $450,000 in extra contribution from an individual when our client had severe and catastrophic injuries resulting in the amputation of his left leg. In that case, we quickly determine that the policy limit of $250,000 was not going to be enough to fully compensate our client for his injuries. We sent a letter to the insurance company requesting the at fault driver provide financial affidavits to list any assets. Of course, the at fault party refused this request and hired another private attorney to help protect their assets. At this point, we sent the private attorney a letter with a drafted complaint that was ready to be filed in Sarasota, County Florida and demanded that both sides agree to mediation, or we would proceed with a lengthy legal battle to collect a monetary judgment.
The at fault party and their counsel agreed to mediate with us in good faith. This was important because it saved our client potentially years of waiting for their case to be settled. Often a case takes a minimum of two years after the filing of a lawsuit to reach the point at which a jury can be selected and decide the case. Further, even if a judgment is collected, the other side can appeal a decision that will further delay any collections even more.
If that wasn’t enough, even after collection, the at fault party could declare bankruptcy and protect any assets as provided by Florida law. This can protect things like a homestead, 401k, or other retirement accounts. The collection process itself can take many more years.
Luckily for us, the other side knew that if they decided to battle us in Court, they would spend large amounts of costs in legal fees. Therefore, after multiple hours of intense negotiations we raised their initial offer at mediation of $50,000 to $450,000. Therefore, our client was able to recover the initial $250,000 from the insurance company plus $450,000 for a total of $700,000 in compensation and we achieved this in less than 1 year.
Tom Harris, Florida Injury Attorney, has over 39 years of experience, including 17 years of defending insurance companies before reinventing his law practice to represent injured people as a personal injury attorney.
Kyle Harris is a Florida licensed attorney who joined the family practice after starting his career as a licensed attorney in California