Am I financially responsible to pay the deficitfor property damage if the other party’s insurer accepted payment from my insurance?

UPDATED: Nov 7, 2011

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Am I financially responsible to pay the deficitfor property damage if the other party’s insurer accepted payment from my insurance?

I was involved in an auto accident to where I was found liable. My insurance covers $10K property damage and $15K/$30K personal injury. I have 2 insurance companies contacting me for the deficit in property damage, after my insurance has sent them settlement release forms. I was told that the release form discharges me from anything beyond what is offered by my insurance and they must sign the for to accept. Is this correct? Am I legally responsible to pay the difference?

Asked on November 7, 2011 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, if a party has some of its damages paid by insurance, that does not prevent it from suing for the balance of its damages. So, if you were at-fault in causing $20k of property damage, but your insurance policy only covers up to $10k, then--unless a release was signed--you could be liable for the other $10k. So the issue is not whether or not the other party received payment: the issue is whether they signed any release, and what the terms of that release were: e.g. it's possible the release only releases your *insurer* from any further liability or obligations, and, if so, that would not prevent the other party from proceeding against you personally.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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