What should be do if our 17 year old son was uninsured and at-fault for a car accident that we are now being sued for?

He rear-ended a woman and was given a warning for speeding by local police. The woman chose to go to hospital and now my insurer has informed us that she has hired an attorney. Our insurer has already stated they are not liable for anything since the boy driving wasn’t insured under the vehicle’s policy. Our assets are minimal, we rent, are in debt and can’t even afford to fix our car. Is our only option to hire an attorney in this civil case? Do these cases typically take a long time?

Asked on July 15, 2014 under Personal Injury, Connecticut


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are going to have to do a little bit of fighting here with your insurance company but it may pay off.  First of all I am assuming that your son had a valid driver's license, correct? First understand that even if in the end they do not "indemnify" you for the loss, they do indeed owe you and your son a defense, meaning that they have to hire an attorney to represent you in the lawsuit.  You may want to hire an attorney to send them a letter (and cc the state Department of Insurance) that states that it is your understanding that in the state of Connecticut the doctrine of "permissive use" applies to this situation.  While your son does not regularly drive your car he had permission to do so in this instance and so he would indeed be covered for this accident.  That at the very least he is owed a defense.  That is they refuse to defend and indemnify you you will bring a declaratory judgement action against them alleging bad faith.  If you have no assets then you are judgement proof and might want to also discuss bankrultcy should the matter not be covered and there is a judgement against you.  Good luck.

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