Legal Question in Personal Injury in Texas

Auto accident, need to know about judgement caps & enforcement for judgements.

On 7.11.05 my husband and I were in an auto accident that totalled our car. Our auto insurance paid off our car, but I lost my job and have had physical therapy and electro stimulation, and a steroid injection in my back for a herniated disk and problems with my hips. None of the treatments have done anything to help, and I constantly take pain medication - I am miserable all the time and my family is suffering.

We have a lawyer, but he is giving us the run-around on ballpark $$$ figures. Our health insurance wants to be paid back, and our bills total over $30,000. so far. My husband has soft-tissue damage, but I am seriously injured. My life has been completely changed by this and I cannot do 80-90% of what I used to do.

Our UnderIns. Motorist combined with the girl who hit us insurance combined is $75,000. What happens if that isn't enough to compensate for everything? If we go to trial and win a larger judgement than her insurance will cover, what happens?

I know that we could sue for more, but that doesn't mean we'll get it. Are judgements against ins. companies enforced? I am not sueing for millions of $$$, but I want to be sure that all is taken care of in case I cannot work again.

Thank you.

Asked on 1/14/06, 5:25 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

David Leon David L. Leon, P.C.

Re: Auto accident, need to know about judgement caps & enforcement for judgements.

If you have concerns about your present counsel, then you need to address those concerns with him/her. If you are still unsatisfied, then you can always seek other counsel, but the lawyer you originally retained may keep a lien for fees. If you decide to switch, your new lawyer will need to address this. (It's not uncommon, we've taken over cases from other firms in the past.) The main issue is whether or not you feel you can continue with the representation you have. You can alwyas speak with other firms about the case for free if you are unhappy (most personal injury firms have free consultations.)

When interviewing other lawyers, make sure that you are able to communicate with the lawyer and make sure that you are comfortable with his/her office and staff. Be upfront about what you want from the case, from the lawyer and the staff.

To answer your question, if there is insufficient insurance (on both the other driver and your underinsured policies) then you will need consider the options. You can go after the driver for the excess. If the other driver has assets, then they may be able to cover the excess amounts out of pocket.

You can call our office if you wish to discuss the matter further.

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Answered on 1/14/06, 11:40 am

Dan Street Street Law Firm

Re: Auto accident, need to know about judgement caps & enforcement for judgements.

Whenever a potential client already has an attorney, my first advice to that potential client is to schedule an in-person appointment with their current lawyer and ask every question they wish to have answered. Take a notebook with you with every question you have thought of, and write down the answers your attorney gives you. Don't be afraid to ask the attorney to outline his or her "game plan" for your case. While there are variables in every case and no attorney can tell you with 100% certainty how your case will turn out, he or she should nevertheless have a good idea of the range of possibilities and be able to explain these to you in a clear and understandable way. If, after meeting with your attorney, you still do not feel that your lawyer has your best interests at heart, you certainly have the right to switch attorneys. Just remember that no attorney can change the facts. If the defendant only has a $25,000 policy and you only have a $50,000 UIM policy, you are unlikely to recover any more than $75,000. Any judgment you get is against the other PERSON, not their insurance company. Collecting on a judgment against a person with few assets is very, very rare. (After all, how much do you think they really have if they only have a minimum insurance policy?) And please remember that just because your lawyer is telling you something that you don't want to hear does not mean that it is not good advice.

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Answered on 1/14/06, 4:53 pm

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