There are situations in which multiple motorcyclists are actually at-fault. If one of the injured parties has medical expenses that exceed the policy limits of the at-fault driver’s policy, an attorney may decide to file underinsured motorist claims. This means potentially collecting underinsured motorist benefits from multiple policies.
Before we dive into this topic, you’ll want a some context. I created an entire series of pages explaining how I handle motorcycle accident claims. There are several other pages you may want to review prior to reading further:
- Understanding Kentucky Motorcycle Accident Claims
- The Purpose of a Letter of Representation in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
- Reserving No-Fault Benefits After a Motorcycle Wreck
- Getting Motorcycle Crash Medical Records and Bills
- Quickly Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim for Policy Limits
- Splitting Policy Limits between Multiple Injured Motorcyclists
- Looking for Additional Sources of Insurance Coverage
- No-Fault Coverage While Riding a Motorcycle
- Bad Faith on a Motorcycle Accident Claim
So now, in my hypothetical example, I have two insurance companies offering their policy limits for two underinsured drivers. How does having two at-fault drivers effect my client’s claim for underinsured motorist benefits from multiple policies?
To be cautious and because I believe it is required by KRS 304.39-320, the underinsured motorist statute, I sent additional Coot’s notices to all the insurance carriers and my client’s automobile insurance; with the second driver now being the underinsured driver. Essentially, in writing and through the procedure laid out in KRS 304.39-320, I made sure the insurance carriers knew that they could have subrogation rights against one or both of the at-fault drivers.
But here is where the law gets interesting. So, if you have two at-fault, underinsured drivers, how much can you recover in underinsured benefits? This assumes you are trying to collect underinsured benefits from multiple policies.
The job of any good personal injury lawyer is to maximize a client’s recovery and minimize the deductions a client must pay from that recovery. After all, if I recover $100,000 for a client and pay out $98,000 for medical bills and attorney’s fees, my client is thinking she should not have bothered making a personal injury claim.
So, with an injury claim arising from a motorcycle accident with two at-fault drivers, I wanted to argue that if an insurance policy for underinsured motorist benefits has limits of $50,000 per person, my client could recover $100,000 of underinsured motorist benefits ($50,000 for each at-fault & underinsured driver). But, I was wrong! You have to look at the terms of your insurance policy but, 99% of them contain the following clause:
LIMIT OF PROTECTION
If coverage is purchased on a Split Limits basis, the “Declarations” will show a “per person” and “per accident” limit for Underinsured Motorists Bodily Injury. The “per person” limit for bodily injury for one “auto” is the most “we” will pay for damages arising out of bodily injury or death to one person in any one accident. The “per accident” limit for bodily injury for one “auto” is the most “we” will pay for damages arising out of bodily injury or death to all persons resulting from any one accident, subject to the “per person” limit. (Emphasis added).
So, if you are in a motorcycle wreck and more than one motorcyclist caused the wreck, you have a liability claim and potentially, an underinsured motorist claim for the negligence of each at-fault driver. However, just because there is more than one at fault driver, it does not mean you can recover more than the per person limit of the underinsured motorist coverage.
In my above example, that per person limit was $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. Because of the above quoted language in your insurance policy, the per person limit controls and the additional driver, does not allow you to recover more than the per person limit.
But, clearly under Kentucky law, you can recover underinsured motorist benefits for the actions of more than one at-fault driver. So, for my client’s injury claim, if there had been a $1,000,000 underinsured motorist policy in place when this motorcycle crash occurred, she could recover underinsured motorist benefits for the negligence of both at-fault drivers. But just because both drivers were at-fault for the motorcycle accident, does not mean she has $2,000,000 in underinsured motorist coverage available.
Essentially, a per person limit, under an insurance policy issued for a Kentucky motorcycle crash, is not increased just because more than one driver may have been at fault in causing the motorcycle accident.