What is our potential liability if my husband caused an auto accident, which resulted in substantial injuries to the other party?

Their medical bills to exceed the amount covered by our insurance company. We don’t know what other damages they are seeking, but they just filed a suit against us personally, which we have handed over to our insurer. I am assuming we will have to pay some amount out of our own pockets. When we are ordered to pay, what of our assets could be on the table? Our house, cars, both of our 401K’s, etc? Am I, as his wife equally responsible for the award amount? Do we have to pay in one lump sum that would require us to drain our 401Ks vs making payments?

Asked on August 26, 2014 under Personal Injury, California


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Firstly, you will have to pay your deductible.  Then the insurance will pay up to the policy limits.  If the victim's injuries exceed the policy limits, you may be personally liable for whatever is over the policy limits.  If the victim has underinsured motorist coverage, it may kick in.  If not, the victim may get a judgment against you personally and then try to enforce it.  There is no way to know whether he may be willing to negotiate with you on a payment plan.  He may.  He may choose to garnish your bank account(s) and any earnings you have.  Generally, retirement funds, such as IRAs, are exempt from garnishment.

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