Antelope, CA asked in Personal Injury for California

Q: In a Premise Liability Case, can a Homeowners Insurance Company be sued for more than the policy’s liability limit?

Slip & Fall Case. Plaintiff is the tenant. Defendant is the landlord. Landlord admits he knew about, & agreed to hire someone fix a broken drain ASAP but definitely prior to a planned bday party a few weeks later. He kept forgetting & the tenant slipped & fell on pooled water that didn’t drain. She was rushed by ambulance with head & knee injuries, as well as a severely fractured humerus. Landlords homeowners insurance policy has a $300,000 liability limit. If I sued for & was awarded more than that, where would the additional amount come from? Example: Settlement or Verdict amount is $400,000. Are there any circumstances or scenarios where the additional $100,000 would be paid by the insurance company? Or would any amount, under ANY circumstances, above policy limits have to come from the Landlord himself. He’s sorry & said he feels terrible. Although I deserve more than 300k, to go after money he probably doesn’t have (he’s 84) & potentially hurt him as well, doesn’t feel right.

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5 Lawyer Answers
Manuel Alzamora Juarez
Manuel Alzamora Juarez
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You could do so only if at the beginning of the case you asked for the policy limits and it was denied to you. Best of luck,

I

Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: more info needed.

however ins co's only have exposure up to the amount of insurance purchased.

you don't sue the ins co but rather sue the defendant at fault. The Ins co defends.

the D, s/he, would have unlimited exposure but the ins co probably will not settle unless it is a full settlement.

with an 84 yr old guy, unless he has assets, it will be challenging to get the balance of the money and you may wind up suing his estate.

do yourself a favor and get a lawyer to assist you. If you need some names I will give them to you.

William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you make a policy limits settlement demand (with a time limit within which it must be accepted or be automatically revoked), and the insurer unreasonably refuses to pay, the insurer can be liable for the entire amount of the judgment. In some circumstances, if the insurer's refusal is in "bad faith", then it can be liable for additional damages to its insured, and for attorney fees incurred by its insured in obtaining the insurer's compliance with its policy obligations. Some of these items can be assigned to the original injured claimant in resolution of the claims against the insured. This is beyond the capability of a layperson to pursue. I recommend that you speak to knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Note that I said "knowledgeable". Not all PI attorneys are knowledgeable about the intricacies of this areas of the law.

Tyler Young agrees with this answer

Tyler Young
Tyler Young
PREMIUM
Answered

A: Your case is against the building owner or property manager, not their insurer. However, the insurer, by contract, defends the case and pays the judgment; with a few nuanced exceptions. I agree with Mr. Light's answer above but I will explain in a slightly different way. You can sue for everything to which you think you're entitled, but the question is who pays. The insurer is only required by their contract with the apartment owner/manager to pay $300,000. But if you offer to take the $300,000, they don't pay it, and you get a judgment for more than $300,000, in many scenarios the insurer will pay the entire verdict. I've had this occur a couple times in my career. The insurer paid the entire "excess" judgment to avoid getting sued by their insured (someone like the apartment owner). Prior to litigation, the only way you're likely to get more than $3000,000, is if the apartment owner kicks in some personal funds.

Theodore Allan Greene
Theodore Allan Greene
Answered
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we could give you some good answers... I suggest you get a personal injury attorney on your side so that you don't miss anything.. It sounds like a small policy for a landlord to have.. One of first things we do in a case like this is an asset search of the defendant. Good luck to you and I suggest you make sure you are fully healed before settling.

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