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WHEN PEOPLE ARE AWARDED MILLIONS IN A LAWSUIT, WHO ACTUALLY PAYS?

February 27, 2020

Just as in an everyday fender bender, it comes from insurance.

In a tort case, the tortfeasor will almost always have liability insurance to pay a successful plaintiff, although larger companies may be sometimes be self-insured.

Let’s say your family minivan is hit by a big truck negligently operated by a driver for a large national company, leaving some family members dead and others with permanent, disabling injuries. The damages might run into the millions for wrongful death, past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and future loss of income as well as life care in an institution or at home for an estimated 30–40 years.

The company might have a $1 million or more liability policy (federal regs require certain minimum amounts depending on the kind of truck). Most big companies will also have umbrella policies, say $5 or $10 million, that kick in to provide extra coverage.

Sometimes a jury will award an excess judgment beyond the available insurance, which would come from the defendant’s other assets. Juries aren’t allowed to be told about the existence of liability insurance in a particular case, but the defendant’s liability carrier that would normally write the check for a civil judgment or out-of-court settlement.

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We often handle cases referred to us by other attorneys. If you have a prospective client with a personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, or nursing home case, we may be able to work with you in providing a resolution.

This is a blog post, not specific legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created.