What is my liability regarding an accident in which another person was injured?

My wife was backing out of a parking space; waited on a truck to pass and continued in reverse. Next thing she knew she had bumped a older lady to the ground. She said she was fine but went to the ER just in case. My insurance contacted her and she said she needs physical therapy and a scooter to get around. My insurance BI policy is 25/50. They offered her $25,000. She declined saying her bills were higher and she is entitled to more. My insurance says they would pay for a defence but what should I be ready for? Can she take my house and so forth?

Asked on October 19, 2011 under Personal Injury, Missouri


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your liability on the personal injury claim would include the medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, and if applicable, documentation of wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

You don't need to do anything until you are served with a summons and complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons).  Just forward it to your insurance company.  Your insurance company will handle the case for you and will provide you with an attorney at no cost to you.  Most cases settle without going all the way through litigation to a trial.  If the case results in the other party obtaining a judgment against you and your wife, you might want to consider filing bankruptcy to prevent enforcement of the judgment.  Methods of enforcing the judgment could include wage garnishment or a lien on your property.  It would be premature to file bankruptcy until there is a judgment against you because at this point you don't know the amount of the judgment.  Depending on your income and other factors, you and your wife may be eligible to file Chapter 7.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straight liquidation which eliminates your debts.  If you are not eligible for Chapter 7, then you would need to file Chapter 13 which requires a plan (budget) for repayment of creditors. 


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