The Basics of Liability Insurance
Every driver in Oregon is required to have liability insurance. Liability insurance is meant to protect you if you are legally responsible for an automobile accident.
If you are driving and hurt someone else, your liability insurance will provide you with a lawyer, and will pay the injured person whatever amount he or she is entitled to, up to your “policy limit” if you are found to be liable. You will not need to pay this attorney–your insurance company will pay their fees for you, from the premiums you have already been paying. This is one of the benefits you get from the premiums you have been paying your insurer all of these years.
Your contract with your liability insurance allows the insurer to control litigation. Sometimes they may make litigation decisions you do not agree with. They have the right to do that.
The law says your liability insurance has to take good care of you. They have to look out for you and your interests. For example, if someone is threatening to sue you for $40,000, and your policy limit is $25,000, your insurer has a responsibility to do what it can to try to settle the case for only $25,000. This is so you do not have to pay the extra $15,000 out of your own pocket.
When a liability insurer does not take good care of the person they are insuring, that person sometimes sues his or her own liability insurer. That is called a “bad faith” claim, because the person believes that the insurance company did not treat them honestly and fairly.
If you have been hurt by a person driving a car, you will usually be dealing with his or her liability insurance. If you decide to hire a lawyer, your attorney will deal with the other driver’s insurance company’s attorney for you.