IfI rear-ended another car on the freeway and was found at fault, what happens if they can not settle within my coverage limits?

Both cars were totaled. My insurance company told me that the other party had a lawyer and were claiming bodily injury. Now they’re telling me that they may not be able to settle within my coverage limits. If they do sue me, what kind of money can they go after? I’m a student right now and the only money I have is from student loans and the GI Bill housing allowance (I am a veteran). I don’t think they can legally go after that money. I also have a shared account with my dad and sister but it’s just so I can manage my dads money – none of it’s mine. Could they possibly go after this money?

Asked on February 25, 2013 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you are at fault (and the rear driver in a collision like this is generally considered to be at fault) and  injure someone (or cause property damage) exceeding your insurance coverage, you can be sued for any amounts over your coverage--and if the person(s) suing you win, you would have to pay personally. Student loans are not, I believe, exempt from execution, so they could  possibly try to get that money. They could also seek the money in the shared account, since it is under your control; to the extent you can prove that the money is not yours but is your father's and sister's, their money should not be subject to execution, but it may be difficult to prove that. Also, a judgment persists for years, so they could try to take action on it in the future, when you have more money or assets--for example, they could try to garnish your wages when you graduate school and are employed.

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