Question from a non-PI lawyer, if there is a car accident that causes a major injury or even death to a passenger at the fault of the driver, how far will the civil liability go for the driver? If the driver is an adult, could the plaintiff/their estate go after future earnings? Could they go after the driver’s family for recovery? Or would it just be limited to the insurance policy? Thanks

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You can't go after their family.

If you get a judgment or an excess verdict over the insurance you can collect on it like any other judgment, including future garnishment. However, if you want the true to life practical answer, you are pretty much limited to the insurance. Most people are judgment proof, even a lot of the 1%. And of course if you settle the case you are just limited to the insurance because you will necessarily sign a release of all claims.

If there is not enough insurance, which usually there isn't, you can look at SUM/UM coverage on the decedent's own policy. That is very state specific though.

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They could go after future earnings but you should check what they have for assets before relying on that. If they make below median income in the state and don’t have property valued more than the bankruptcy exemptions, the driver could simply file a bankruptcy and discharge personal responsibility for payment. Relying on insurance policy limits is a more stable settlement.

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Every state is different. What state

I'm in New York. The associate 1 response on this. You can look at their sum coverage and the coverage of any immediate blood family that the decedent actually lived with. Beyond that you are stuck with the insurance (if settling). We have no bad faith claims here without an excess verdict.

If you have a PI case and are not a PI atty I'd be cautious. There's lots of lien issues, surrogates issues, sum disclaimer problems etc.

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Thank you for your help. Issue is coming from the perspective of the employer of a parent of the driver. They are aware of the situation and just want to understand what could happen to their employee, if anything.

There's a presumption a child is using the parents car with permission. Don't get tricky and try to lie about it. It's rebuttable I suppose but good luck.

In the end the plaintiff is going to settle for or within the insurance. It's just a practicality.

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