Can an insured hit pedestrian sue insured motorist?

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Can an insured hit pedestrian sue insured motorist?

My mother-in-law was driving my insured car. A pedestrian jumped in front of the car, resulting in being hit by the car. The pedestrian was taken to hospital for serval days. The insurance companies state not my Mother-in-laws fault and are not paying the pedestrian’s medical bills. Can the pedestrian now sue me?

Asked on May 22, 2009 under Insurance Law, New Jersey

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The pedestrian can sue you, but that doesn't mean he or she will win. If you are sued, your insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend the lawsuit, as long as you send them the suit papers as soon as you get them.

I can't tell you that the insurance company was right, in denying the pedestrian's claim, although usually there is at least some factual reason for denying a claim.  But if they were wrong, it will be the insurance company's problem, not yours.

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A court is going to hold you responsible if your mother in law is at fault under a law called the "permissive use" statute.  Under this statute, you (the insurered/owner of the car) are responsible for people you let use your car and injur people.  In this case, the insurance company's denial of the claim is good, but they are not the final say.  In fact, they are far from the final say.  The pedestrial can take your mother in law and you to court for injuries and argue to the jury that your mother in law is at fault.  While the insurance company may have a great basis for why your mother in law is not at fault, they have to prove it.  I am sure however, they based the denial on the police report saying your mother in law was not at fault.  this is a good start for keeping yourself out of trouble. Just sit back and wait to see what if any legal action the pedestrial takes.  Forward all legal complaints to your insurance carrier.


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