What to do about a civil court default?

I was in a car accident where I was not at fault. I filed a claim with the other driver’s insurance and it responded that would pay 60% of the cost to fix my car (stated that I was 40% liable). I filed a claim in Special Civil Part, the other driver didn’t respond so the case defaulted. Can I accept the 60% from the insurance company of the other driver now and start repairing my car (which has been sitting since the date of the accident (8 months), while I pursue collecting from the other driver (I need to request default judgment etc.)?

Asked on July 21, 2012 under Accident Law, New Jersey


Anthony Van Johnson / VANJOHNSON LAW FIRM, L.L.C.

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You indicated that you were involved in an auto accident.  The other driver's insurance company agreed to pay 60% of the cost of repairs to your vehicle, having made a determination that you were 40% at fault in causing the accident.  You then indicated that you filed (presumably) a lawsuit against the other driver who failed to file any responsive pleadings.  Your question is whether you can accept the 60% from the other driver's insurance company, and then pursue the othter driver for the remaining 40%.  First, I would advise that you retain the services of an experienced attorney.  If you sued the other driver, then the other driver's insurance company most likely had a contractual obligation to provide legal representation to their insured.  If you accept the 60% from the other driver's insurance company, they will most likely require you to sign a "release" of all claims against their insured.  On the other hand, if you obtained a judgment against the other driver, the court will award you whatever it feels is a just judgment.  Consult with an attorney immediately.

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