What shouldI do if I have potential liability for alleged person injuries regrading a minor car accident in which I was at fault?

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What shouldI do if I have potential liability for alleged person injuries regrading a minor car accident in which I was at fault?

I rear-ended a car in 05/10 with low speed. Police gave me a careless driving ticket and I did traffic school. My first accident ever since ’01. The lady claimed personal injury after hardly any damages(none on mine;scratch on hers) were obvious. 2 months later her attorney send a NOA. My insurance good coverage. However, my insurer says that I could get sued for the amounts that are not covered. I just make $1,200 a month and am worried that this will ruin me. I have 2witnesses that say she seemed fine after the bump and photos of the cars that the insurance has too. What are my chances?

Asked on September 2, 2010 under Accident Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First off be aware that it was an "accident" and calm down.  You had valid insurance coverage and under that coverage you are entitled to a defense - meaning that they have to hire an attorney to protect your rights.  Now the attorney is obligated to represent YOU and not the interests of your insurance company.  So many people think that because they are hired and paid for by the insurance company that they work for them.  Attorneys have an ethical obligation to zealously represent the best interests of their client  - you.   Now, the letter (I am assuming that it is a letter) that you got from the insurance company is standard in "the industry."  Plaintiffs (the people that do the suing) often ask for the sky in their legal papers (i.e., $10,000,000.00) which is generally over and above the normal every day coverage.  So the insurance company sent you a letter indicating your coverage limits (whatever they are) and telling you that you could be personally liable for a judgement over and above that amount and that you had the right to hire a personal attorney at your expense to sit along side the attorney that they hired ON YOUR BEHALF. They have to advise you of this by law.  It is not an indication that they think that this woman's injuries are valid or that the matter will exceed your coverage.  In fact, if there is a valid offer by the plaintiff to settle the matter within your policy limits then they have to act in "good faith" and settle the claim.  Otherwise it is "bad faith" which is a dangerous tool against them. Plaintiff has far to go in proving her damage was caused by the accident.  Don't be worried about it now and ask as many questions to your lawyer as you need, preferably in writing.  Good luck.


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