Is An Insurance Company Suing You For An Auto Accident?
Sometimes, the harshest aftermath of an auto accident can come months later in the form of a lawsuit. Even if you believed you walked away from the situation relatively unscathed after having dealt with insurance companies and medical bills, the other driver may decide to put you at fault and sue you for damages.
If you’re being sued by an insurance company in the event of an automobile accident, don’t panic. Lawsuits are stressful and frightening, but there is a good chance it may not be as bad as you think.
Can You Be Sued For An Auto Accident In Your State?
Just because someone has threatened to sue you for your part in an auto accident doesn’t mean they can actually do it, so don’t panic yet.
If you live in one of these no-fault states, you likely can’t be sued for an accident even if you caused it:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Step #1: Determine If You Are At Fault
You know if the accident was the result of your negligence or the other driver’s. If you aren’t at fault, it’s time to start gathering up the evidence to support that claim.
Collect anything you can that proves you weren’t at fault, from photographs, to doctor’s reports, to eyewitness testimony. Make sure you have a copy of the police report and the insurance claims adjuster reports. You will be handing all of this evidence over to an attorney so that he or she can best represent you.
If you are at fault, still prepare to get in touch with an attorney. In some cases, it’s possible to reduce or eliminate your liability if you and your lawyer can prove that the other driver was at least partially responsible for the accident.
Step #2: Call Your Insurance Company Immediately
It is vital that you contact your insurance provider immediately and bring them up to speed because they will play a major role in your case. You should have already reported the accident to your insurance company and given them a detailed report of what happened.
Even if you don’t think your insurance provider will be particularly pleased to hear that you were in an accident, it’s still important to report it so that they have no reason to refuse to defend you.
Step #3: Take Advantage Of Their Services
Another big reason to report the accident to your insurance company is so that you can reap the benefits of the services they can provide you in the event you are sued.
Usually, your auto insurance coverage includes attorney expenses. The insurance appoints a lawyer to you free of charge. While you can absolutely opt to hire one independently, keep in mind you’ll be footing the bill.
Treat this attorney like you would any other. Let him or her handle any and all legal correspondences or requests, and refuse to talk with legal representation from the other party. Instead, refer them to your attorney.
Step #4: Find Out How Much You Owe In Damages
Your insurance provider usually covers any legal or medical bills and damages you’re being sued for. There is a caveat, however. Your provider will only pay damages up to your policy’s limit amount. For example, if you have a coverage plan of $25,000, but the other party is awarded $30,000, you are responsible for paying the remaining $5,000.
Step #5: Understand Your Insurance Company’s Interests
There is a possibility that you and your insurance company may end up on opposite sides of the fence. In some cases, insurance providers can refuse to defend their customers in the event that the company suspects you’ve done something to void your coverage. If this happens, it’s possible to sue your insurance company for punitive damages.
Also keep in mind that your insurance company has little interest in protecting your reputation. They are more concerned with keeping costs down, and if that means settling out of court, even if you aren’t at fault, they’ll proceed in doing so. In this event, it may be beneficial to contact an experienced claims lawyer.
Step #6: Be Prepared To Settle
More often than not, an auto accident lawsuit settles out of court as there are benefits to both parties. You or your insurance company can make an offer to the other party to avoid going to trial. You can offer up a sum of money that is within your policy limits to avoid any risk of having to pay out of pocket.