If you have been involved in a car accident and the other party has decided to pursue legal action against you, you may find yourself feeling lost and scared at the potential major implications of a lawsuit.
Being sued is never something to take lightly, but before you start to panic, there are several things you can do to make sure you handle the situation as best as possible and come out of this either unscathed or facing minimal consequences.
1. Stay calm.
First thing’s first: don’t panic. Keep a level head and give yourself a moment to take everything in. Panicking never helped anyone and you need to think rationally about what you need to do next. The best way to approach things is to calmly evaluate your situation and take action step by step.
2. Contact Your Insurance Company
If someone is suing you, the first thing to do is let your insurance company know of the situation and send them the suit papers so that they may hire a lawyer to defend you. Not reporting the suit in a timely manner may end up jeopardizing your coverage, so make sure you don’t waste any time.
If it’s been a while since the accident happened and you’ve changed insurance companies, get in touch with the same company that handled your case the first time, because your original coverage should still be valid and the same company should still be obligated to provide you with the protection you were afforded in the policy when the accident occurred.
3. Know the Statute of Limitations in Your State
It is imperative that you find out what the statute of limitations is in your state. If too much time has passed since the accident occurred, filing new claims against you would be completely pointless. Attorneys know this and if a reputable attorney files the suit, the statute of limitations is likely not an issue. There are, however, disreputable representatives who may attempt anything to pressure you into paying more than you are liable for.
Most of the time, an at-fault person’s insurance policy is enough to cover any penalties and injuries resulting from an auto accident. If that is not the case, however, you will typically know about it very shortly after an accident. If a lawsuit is filed against you a year or more later, those suing you will need to show a great deal of causative effect and they will need to provide convincing explanations for their delay.
4. Know Who Was at Fault
Sometimes it can be fairly obvious who was at fault for an accident by simply looking at the damage and the environment in which the accident took place. Other times, though, determining whose fault it was is a matter of looking into the local laws.
Determining whose fault it was can be a complicated questions with many facets. There are states, for example, called “no-fault” states, where your insurance company is responsible for any injuries you sustain or any property damage, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. In these cases, knowing who the responsible party was is only important for determining points on your driver’s license, as well as other regulations having to do with your driving privileges. There are exceptions, however, in the case of severe injuries.
One thing to consider is whether your car was parked or simply stopped. Road conditions are also very important to consider when determining who was responsible for an accident; rain, fog, or even high winds could potentially play a part in the fault involved. In many states, hitting another car’s rear automatically puts you at fault since you are supposed to always keep enough distance between yourself and the car in front of you that if they were to suddenly brake, you would have enough time to stop your vehicle without a collision. However, if another vehicle is backing out of a blind drive in your way, there’s not much you can do about it. Determining who is at fault in an auto accident means comparing all the individual factors involved and making a ranked list of all the causes involved. Another example of automatic fault is the failure to yield right-of-way.
If you happen to live in a no-fault state, your insurance company will be responsible for your damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This can sometimes be beneficial to a driver and frustrating for others. The thinking behind the law in no-fault states is that everyone is responsible for their own problems and a driver can’t hold another driver liable for any property of injury damage. The problem in these states is that your car insurance will fluctuate, typically going slowly upwards, as the claims filed by the company are then reflected back on everyone they cover. In many ways, no-fault is a sort of cooperative insurance where every member participates in covering other members of their insured network.
Aside from no-fault situations, you will probably need to know how to determine fault in an accident before one happens. The vehicles’ speed, the angle of the collision, the condition of the road, and even the time of day can be important in deciding fault.
All of this is exactly like it sounds: extremely complicated and confusing. That’s why an experienced auto accident attorney can be very helpful with investigating the specifics of your accident and making sure all the relevant information is put forward in your case.
Are you seeking legal help following a car accident? Palm Legal Group has a very skilled team of lawyers that will fight to get you the best possible settlement for your case.
Call us today at 1-561-781-9679
5. Hire an Attorney
First of all, as we’ve already established, car accidents can be very complex, and the last thing you want to do is attempt to wrap your head around every little detail, especially if you’re still recovering after the accident. Second, lawsuits can also be particularly complex; that’s why lawyers need to go through law school and pass a difficult exam before being able to practice. While it is technically true that anyone can represent themselves when dealing with a lawsuit, that’s almost never a good idea, as one single mistake on the laws or rules of a lawsuit can end up having a significant impact on your case. That’s where attorneys come in; they are specially trained in dealing with complex laws and rules and they are able to help you make the best and most informed decisions for your case.
If you try to handle things on your own, you may very well end up losing. Representing yourself can also be extremely stressful if you don’t possess all the knowledge that an experienced lawyer normally would. A lawyer will deal with all the complexities of the law so that you don’t need to put everything else in your life on hold until finished with the lawsuit.
If you think the attorney provided by the insurance company has everything covered, you may be mistaken as to what his goals are. Defense attorneys provided by insurance companies have only one goal: to minimize the costs of the accident, which means paying as little money as possible. This does not necessarily mean clearing your name if you have been falsely accused, as they are not interested in justice, only in saving money. They will try to protect the insurance company and its policy and deciding whether to settle a case or not is entirely up to them. Your input won’t be taken into consideration as they will do anything that serves their own interests.
All things considered, the best way to defend yourself and your interests is to hire a lawyer. Defending yourself will very likely have you losing the battle and counting on the lawyer provided by the insurance company can be risky as your best interests and the company’s best interests won’t necessarily align.
If you are being sued for a car accident, the experienced lawyers at Palm Legal Group can help protect you at every step of the way.
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