After a car accident, how do I learn the policy limits of the driver who hit me?
Hi. I’m Jared Richards, I’m one of the attorneys here at Clear Council Law Group. One of our readers has recently asked us how to find out policy limits in a car accident situation. For those of you that are unfamiliar, it becomes important to know what the defendant’s car insurance limits are, in order to negotiate a settlement, which I think makes sense. Prior to 2015, it was a fairly simple procedure in Nevada. We used to have law that was, unfortunately, repealed a few months ago. The insurance companies were rather aggressive during this legislative session. As of a few months ago, we had a law that required insurance companies to disclose the limits, the amount of the insurance policy, if we sent a medical record, or if we sent authorization for them to go gather their own medical records. Unfortunately, that is no longer the law. What is left is a big gaping hole, there is no legal requirement, or at least no statutory requirement, for insurance companies to disclose that information.
Since that law has been repealed, we’ve had conversations with a number of adjusters trying to get that information, and here are the results of some of those conversations. In some conversations, the adjusters reluctantly tell us, or sometimes whisper it so that we know. In some of those conversations, they outright tell us that the law has changed, and now it’s illegal for them to tell us the insurance limits. That, of course, is a bunch of baloney, and yes, I used the word baloney. It is absolutely not illegal for them to tell us. It may be against their company’s internal policy, but there is no statute that prevents them from telling us. What they’re trying to do is just simply keep people negotiating, trying to negotiate in good faith, in the dark, which, in my opinion, and in the opinion of certain courts, is not good faith negotiation.
I want to talk about that for a second, of why disclosure of policy limits is important. It is difficult to negotiate a case, often impossible to negotiate a case, unless you know what you’re actually dealing with. We disclose to the other side the size of our claim, they should disclose to us the size of the funds available to settle that claim. In support of that idea, if you file suit, one of the very first things that the defendant is required, by law, to disclose in the state of Nevada, is the insurance policy. All available information about the insurance policy, including policy limits. There’s a reason the courts force it, because the courts understand that you have to have that information to negotiate in good faith. Unfortunately, now that are statutes have changed, pre-litigation before you file a lawsuit, more and more insurance companies are refusing.
Sometimes, they’re third party sources that might have the size of the information, the size of the policy information. One tactic that we’ve tried, sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it had simply led to a lawsuit, which, I guess, is life, is the threat that if they don’t disclose to us, then we have no option other than filing a lawsuit. There is some case law in that. There is some case law that tells insurance companies that if they don’t disclose the policy limits, there’s no way for the plaintiff, the claimant, you, to negotiate in good faith, so it requires a lawsuit. Certain courts have held that that, in fact, is bad faith on the part of insurance companies. You can watch our other videos about the ramifications of bad faith, it’s a pretty big deal.
To review, simply asking, sometimes third party sources, threatening a lawsuit, and then the last is finally, filing the lawsuit. Sometimes we find that necessary that you have to file the lawsuit. Unfortunately, the Nevada legislature has let us all down a bit, they’ve increased the number of lawsuits that have to be filed because insurance companies no longer feel like they have to disclose. Unfortunately, that also means that, for the average person, it’s more difficult to settle the case without the use of an attorney, because now it’s becoming even more necessary to have an attorney to even find out the basic information about the policy. Anyway, there’s the answer to that. If you have more questions, keep on watching our videos.