Consider the scenario in which you were in an auto accident in the past and your insurer settled the matter at that time. If you’ve put the event behind you and moved on with your life, you may be shocked to learn that you are again being sued for car accident damages.
While this is definitely an unwelcome situation, keep your cool and avoid reaching out to the other party. Yelling or threatening them over the phone or in person will only add weight to their claim about the damages they have suffered since the time of the accident. Anything you do or say may potentially be used as evidence against you.
Contact Your Insurance Company
The first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to your insurance company. Even if you changed companies since the time of your accident, the one who handled the original claim must still work with you. Unless there are extenuating circumstances that justify a new lawsuit being brought, your original coverage is still valid, and the old insurance company would still be responsible for protecting your rights under your old policy at the time of the accident.
In most instances, the policy of the at-fault party is sufficient to cover the penalties and injuries involved. However, in circumstances when this is not the case, you would likely have found out shortly after the accident and paid out the additional funds yourself. If you did end up paying out-of-pocket at the time of the accident, there is a good chance that your insurance company will not be able to cover any further costs for this new case. Keep in mind that while the insurer must defend the suit, they are ultimately looking out for their own best interests.
If you live in a no-fault state, there may be restrictions that limit the right to sue and allow recovery for injury from an insurance policy. Unless there are severe injuries or the injured party can show evidence that meets certain pain and suffering criteria, state laws may restrict general injury suits.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
After alerting your insurance company, you may want to reach out to a car accident attorney in your area for a free consultation. He or she can review the facts of your case and provide professional guidance based on experience. If you feel comfortable enough with the attorney, consider hiring their law firm to handle the case.
You, or your attorney if you choose to hire one, will need to gather evidence related to who was ultimately at fault for the accident. Factors to evaluate include speed, collision angle, broken traffic laws, weather conditions, time of day, and other causes that may be relevant to the case.
If you were clearly at fault and the lawsuit has any degree of validity, settling may be the right decision. Doing so will save you the long and stressful process of going to court. You can easily hire an attorney to help you move through the settlement process in a shorter period of time compared to the time it takes to prepare for a trial.