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Car accidents are a risk of driving. When an accident results in a lawsuit for personal injury, the driver at fault may be in for another huge headache. What should you do if you're involved in an accident and concerned about being sued?
Here are five tips on accidents, injury, insurance and lawsuits, informed by a list on Enlighten Me. Knowing a little bit about the law and what to expect can go a long way toward minimizing your anxiety if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation.
Sued for a Car Accident? Here's What You Should Know
If you're being sued for your involvement in a car accident, first of all, don't panic. The best way to approach this situation is to calmly take action step by step. To help you get started resolving the situation, here are six things you should know:
1. No-fault state considerations
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 12 states have no-fault laws that limit the right to sue and allow recovery for injury from an insurance policy regardless of fault. These laws restrict injury suits to severe injuries and for pain and suffering if a case meets certain conditions. The III reports that even among the 12 no-fault insurance law states, there is a great deal of variation on limits for liability.
2. Fault determination factors
Some of the factors considered when fault determinations are made after an accident are speed, collision angle, broken traffic laws, if any, conditions of the road and time of day. But remember, if other factors are relevant in your case -- weather, for example -- that can be a factor.
3. Legal defense issues
If you are insured and someone sues you over an accident, your insurer must defend the suit. The insurance company will also have to pay any damages awarded, but only to the extent of your policy limit. Although insurers demand your cooperation in defense of a suit, you should not lose sight of the fact that your interests may not necessarily be completely aligned.
4. Insurance interests
Keep in mind that the insurance company defense attorney is looking to minimize the costs of an accident, which means paying out as little as possible. The insurer is not interested in justice, for example clearing your name if you have been falsely accused of causing the accident. The insurance attorney seeks to protect the company and its policy, and the decision to settle a case will be made by the company, not you.
5. Considering settlements
The above notwithstanding, settlement may be the right decision. Lawsuits can be long and emotionally difficult or draining. Even if you successfully defend yourself, you may find you have expended much time and energy. In legal matters, it is wise to seriously consider compromise and to look for a resolution you can live with, even if it doesn't feel victorious.
6. Contact a Lawyer
If you were injured in an accident or are being sued for personal injury, consult with an attorney. Many lawyers consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your situation.