What to do if I’m being sued for a auto accident from 2 years ago and my insurance was cancelled 6 days before the accident?

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What to do if I’m being sued for a auto accident from 2 years ago and my insurance was cancelled 6 days before the accident?

The person that hit me had their insurer pay them. I’m a single mother of 4 and don’t have a job; my ex-husband owns the house that I live in but my name is on it also. What can they get from me if I don’t own anything? I can’t afford everyday things, let alone a half a million dollar claim.

Asked on January 13, 2014 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you were at fault in the accident (that is, driving carelessly in some way, such as by speeding, going through a stop sign, not paying attention or failing to yield right of way, etc.), then whether or not you had insurance, you can be sued. If your insurance was properly canceled before the accident, then the insurer will not be responsible--insurance only covers accidents that occur while the policy is in force. If you are sued and lose, they will get a judgment against you; your house is potentially at risk if your name "is on it also," since that means that, contrary to what you indicate, you are an owner of the house--you are evidently on the title. That means that they could put a lien on the property and potentially force a sale of it, depending on the circumstances; however, they can only recover money from doing so to the extent there is equity in the house. If the house is underwater on the mortgage or has very little equity, they is little incentive to do this.

More generally, a judgment against you will remain valid and enforceable for many years. During that time, the party who sued you, if they won, could seek to garnish your wages if you get a job; to get a piece of any inheritance or gifts you receive; to take any other assets or property (e.g. a car) owned by you, etc. Collecting in this way can be difficult, however, for them--not all prevaling plaintiffs go to the trouble, especially if the value of what they could get is low; and if you truly don't own anything other than evidently being part owner of the house, then the house would be all that is at risk.


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