Can You be Personally Sued For a Car Accident?
In many cases, car accident injury claims are resolved without the need for a lawsuit. The majority of drivers carry liability insurance designed to protect them from facing liability for the crash. Liability insurance might cover some or all of the cost of an injury claim against you, but it cannot prevent you from being sued entirely.
Even though many insurance claims are resolved quickly, there are cases where the two sides may be far apart. Ultimately, if the injured party in a car accident claim is not happy with the settlement offer that is presented to them, they may feel compelled to move forward with a lawsuit. In that instance, they will file suit not against the insurance company but the driver they hold responsible for the crash. If you find yourself injured in a vehicle collision, it is vital that you speak with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Common reasons for car accident lawsuits
While every claim is different, there are some common factors that result in an injured party pursuing a negligence claim after a car accident. While the requirement of liability insurance removes the need for most lawsuits following a collision, there are always exceptions. Some of the most common factors that lead to a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver include:
- No insurance. Liability insurance is required by law, but that does not mean that every driver has coverage at all times. Policies lapse and premium payments are missed. If your insurance policy was not in effect when you caused an accident, you could be facing a lawsuit.
- Policy limits. Even if you have liability insurance, there are caps known as policy limits that act as a ceiling for what your insurance might on your behalf. If the other driver’s damages are higher than your policy limits, you could be on the hook for what is left over.
- Delay. You might be motivated to avoid a lawsuit, but many insurance companies are content with dragging the claims process out in an effort to limit their liability. If a plaintiff gets tired of waiting they might file suit to force your insurance company to address the claim.
These are only a few reasons why lawsuits might occur. Your attorney could provide you with a better understanding of when legal action might be necessary.
Steps to take if you are being sued
If you have been served with a lawsuit after a car accident, there is no reason to panic. By staying calm, you will improve your chances of avoiding mistakes or accepting responsibility for an accident when you should not have. The following steps will help you fight back against a legal claim.
- Contact an attorney. You should seek legal counsel from California car accident attorneys right away. Being served with a lawsuit does not mean you are responsible for the crash. In many cases, the at-fault party will file a claim hoping to bully the other driver into admitting fault. Your attorney can advise you of how best to proceed, and can even help you with preparing a counterclaim against the other drive.
- Pressure your insurance company. If you have liability insurance coverage, your policy requires them to not only pay for your claims but also to provide you with an attorney for your defense. Your legal counsel could help avoid delays in the process.
- Explore other options. If you do not have insurance, your attorney might be able to convince the other driver to pursue a claim through an uninsured motorist policy if they have one.
Contact an injury attorney immediately
Any delay in speaking with legal counsel after an accident can only work against you. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner you can move forward with your claim or protect yourself from a lawsuit.
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, Ellis Injury Law is ready to help. Call right away to schedule a free consultation today.