What To Do If You Are Sued After An Accident?
Large numbers of accidents happen every single day. In some cases, the person you have gotten into a crash with may decide to take legal action against you and sue you. This can be a terrifying notion, but it is essential to stay calm and follow the appropriate steps. Being sued can have significant implications, but taking smart action can help you reduce your legal liability, sometimes to practically nothing at all.
It is possible to be hit with a lawsuit up to a year or more after an accident occurs. This is after your insurance company paid off the claim, and it is essential not to panic. Here are a few things that can help your situation and make your life, and the process ahead, to be as easy as possible.
How To Know If You Are Actually At Fault
The most common way to determine who is at fault in an accident is by looking at the damage to the vehicles and the environment. This information is then compared to and lined up with local laws, which also have an impact on who is at fault in accidents in particular situations.
Determining fault in an accident can vary from one state to the next, with some of them applying fault as a percent and others applying fault more entirely to one person or the other.
States that have no-fault insurance as a legal requirement have laws that stipulate that your insurance company is responsible for covering expenses relating to you and your property, regardless of who is at fault. In these cases, determining who is at fault is utilized to determine whether or not points will be added to your driver's license, and how many.
Road conditions and details pertaining to your vehicle can also play a significant role in determining who is at fault. There is a difference between fault at times, depending on whether or not your car was parked or being driven. Also, weather and road conditions, like wet roads, fog, sleet, or snow, can be part of the reason why an accident occurred. Regardless of the weather conditions, in many states, the act of rear-ending another vehicle will automatically put the driver who rear-ended at fault. This is because you are always supposed to have enough distance between you and the car in front of you to safely stop without hitting them, regardless of the weather. Cases where people fail to yield the right-of-way are also generally always considered to put them at fault.
Because of the complexity involved in determining who is at fault in an accident, there are times one person may seem to be at fault at the beginning of an accident investigation, but it is determined that the other person was actually at fault by the end. In many cases, no determination about who is at fault is made until the facts are investigated.
What To Do If You Are At Fault And Are Being Sued
If you are at fault in an accident and are being sued by another driver, an essential first step is to contact your insurance company. You will want to contact the company who handled the original insurance claim, so if you have switched automobile insurance providers, you will be contacting the one who insured you when you got into the accident. As a side note, even if you have left an insurance company, they will be willing to help you out, and it may also give them the opportunity to get your business back.
In rare cases, a new lawsuit could be brought forth, but in the vast majority of cases your original insurance coverage is still valid, and the insurance company that handled your claim is still responsible for providing you the protection stated in the policy that you purchased and had when the accident occurred. By contacting your insurance agency, they will know to be on the job and get to work for you.
Depending on how long ago the accident was, you may have passed the statute of limitations in your state. If an accident occurs, and too much time has passed, then filing a new claim will not be an option. If the lawsuit is being filed against you by an attorney that is reputable, it is not likely that this will be the case. Sometimes, however, suits are unfortunately used to pressure people into paying more money than the liability they have. Because of this, it is a smart plan to check on the statute of limitations early in the process.
It is rare for amounts to be levied beyond the policy coverage limits stated in your policy. If someone is trying to get additional gain through assets outside of your policy, make sure that your insurance company is providing counsel or to get a lawyer yourself.
In the vast majority of cases, the car insurance policy of the at-fault driver in an accident is more than sufficient to cover the penalties and injuries of the accident. In cases where it is not, it is highly likely that you will know shortly after the crash and can begin to prepare — lawsuits that occur long after a crash occurs face additional obstacles, such as showing a large amount of causal affect and explaining why the suit was delayed for such a long period. It is important to remember that your insurance company is most often the best line of defense against lawsuits stemming from car accidents. After that, putting your own lawyer on retainer is the next step.
These types of lawsuits can be quite specialized, and often having a better lawyer, and better representation, can make a world of difference.