It was reported recently (link) that a 55 year old bicyclist was hit from behind and killed by a speeding driver around 5:20 p.m. on July 23, 2014 at Domenigoni Parkway and Lindenberger Road in Menifee. The driver was arrested and booked for investigation of vehicular manslaughter.
Aside from any criminal prosecution from the standpoint of any civil claim or lawsuit for wrongful death by the decedent’s heirs, it would be extremely important at the outset to know the negligent driver’s liability coverage limits on the car he was driving is often times in a major damages case like this the negligent party has usually less than $100,000 in liability coverage. If so, it then becomes important to check the decedent’s own auto liability policy to see if he carried underinsured (UIM) coverage, and if so, what are those UIM coverage policy limits.
If the UIM limits are greater than the negligent driver’s liability limits, then the plaintiff’s heirs first have to collect all of the underlying third party driver’s liability insurance ($50,000) and then turn around and invoke the decedent’s UIM coverage against his own carrier to collect the difference between what the third party carrier paid and the policy limits of the UIM coverage.
For example, if the third party driver carried only $50,000 of liability coverage and the decedent carried $250,000 of UIM coverage, the heirs could collect first the driver’s $50,000 and then collect another $200,000 from the UIM carrier for a total of $250,000. Note that under California law the UIM carrier gets a “credit” for the driver’s $50,000 against the UIM policy limits so the UIM carrier pays only a net $200,000 more even though the UIM coverage was $250,000.
Certainly, situations like these are complex and experts like the attorneys at Ryneal & Ryneal are essential in maximizing any personal injury or wrongful death claim. If you have a potential case call today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.