You’re at home, recovering after a car accident, when there’s a knock on your door. It’s exactly what you’ve been dreading—you’re being sued for a car accident.
If you were at fault in a car accident, it’s possible that the other driver might file suit as a way to get financial compensation for their injuries. It’s a frightening process, as no one wants to be sued, but if you know how to handle it, it won’t be that bad.
To learn more, keep reading to find exactly what you should do when you’re sued after a car accident.
Find Out Exactly Why You’re Being Sued
If you’re being sued after an accident, try your best to stay calm until you can get all the facts.
You’ll want to read through the suit in great detail, working out exactly what you’re being sued for.
Find out what injuries are being claimed for, the total lost wages and medical bills, and any other key details. You’ll need this information to talk to both your insurance company and your lawyer about the suit.
Check the Statute of Limitations
Before going any further, check on the statute of limitations for the accident. Many states place a time limit on how long after an accident you can file a suit.
If it’s been years since the accident and someone has just now decided to file a suit, they might be too late.
For example, in New York state, the statute of limitations for most accidents is three years. However, each state is different, so pay close attention to this—especially if the accident happened outside of your home state.
Talk to Your Insurance Company
After a car accident, one of the first things you should do, after calling 911 and getting medical care, is reporting the accident to your insurance company. To learn more, here’s a great post to read about what to do after an accident.
However, you’ll want to give them another call if you’re being sued. They’re likely to get their own legal team involved, investigating the case and working on their defence.
This is because they may have to pay out a settlement if you’re found guilty in the case.
Generally, your insurance company will indemnify you for up to the limits of your policy. Indemnify means to compensate for the loss, so your insurer will pay up to the maximum amount to the plaintiff if you’re found guilty.
The sooner you tell them about the lawsuit, the sooner they can take action, so don’t delay.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer
Next, you’ll want to hire a car accident lawyer to defend you in the case. Legal cases can be extremely complex, so you need the right person by your side to help.
Also, you could be liable for large out-of-pocket costs if you lose the case, so a professional lawyer will give you the best chances of success, helping you minimize your expenses.
When hiring a lawyer, look for someone who is experienced in accident law and qualified. Do plenty of research before hiring and also make sure you understand the firm’s fee structure, so you know how much you’ll need to pay after the case.
Your lawyer will represent you throughout the court case, so never talk to anyone else involved with the case unless you have permission from your lawyer.
Try Not to Take it Personally
It can be really tough, emotionally, when you’re sued after an accident. However, try your best not to take it personally.
You might worry that the suit is a reflection of your driving skills or personality, but remember that car accident can happen to anyone, and they’re just that—accidents.
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time—who hasn’t? Often, the reason for the suit is simply financial but has nothing to do with you as a person.
If you’re finding the process really tough, you might want to seek out therapy to help you cope.
Another important tip when dealing with car accident lawsuits is to be honest. If you were at fault for the car accident, it’s best to tell your insurance company and give them the whole story, as they can work with you to help settle the case.
When you’re in court, you’ll have to swear under oath to be honest, with steep penalties if you’re untruthful. Things are always going to go smoother if you tell the entire story of the accident, exactly as it happened.
Plus, a judge is only human too, and they know that mistakes are made. They tend to look more kindly on those who are genuine and honest than those who they suspect of lying.
If You’re Sued for a Car Accident, Protect Yourself With These Tips
After being sued for a car accident, use the tips above to look after yourself and handle the situation in a professional way. While it’s not something anyone wants to experience, it will hopefully be over as soon as possible.
Many accident cases are settled outside of court, so there’s a good chance that your case might not even go to trial. Empower yourself with knowledge and information, hire the right lawyer, and you’re sure to get through the case smoothly.
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