What to do if your are sued for an auto injury?

My brother had an accident about 6 months back. While he was making a left turn (the signal was green) he hit a biker who was crossing the street that my brother was making his turn onto. The police arrived and did not issue any ticket to my brother, however they wrote a ticket to the biker who had some head injury and was taken to the hospital (he was discharged after a few days). Now, the biker has hired a lawyer and asked for a claim of $167,000. What are my brother’s rights? He was not at fault? What would be the most sensible thing to do? Should he speak with a personal injury defense attorney? In Sacramento, CA.

Asked on September 7, 2010 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If he has liability insurance, he should tell the insurer IMMEDIATELY if he hasn't already: his insurer will have a duty to defend him, at least up to the value of the policy, but a failure to notify them of any claims or suits in a prompt fashion will often result in a denial of coverage.

If he has insurance per the above, the insurer should provide a lawyer; otherwise, your brother should consult with one immediately. It might be possible to show that he (your brother) was not at fault; it may be possible to show that the injuries are far less severe  (and therefore worth less) than the plaintiff claims; but if your brother does nothing, he'll lose by default. Any lawsuit for $167k must be taken seriously.

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