What is my liability regarding a car accident if I did not have insurance?

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What is my liability regarding a car accident if I did not have insurance?

I was in an accident with no insurance. I’ve moved since then within a month of the accident and am going back to the east coast for school in a couple of months. I’ve had an insurance company tell me that I owe them $11,000. I am on the last 2 weeks of my unemployment and have a 2 year-old with a disability. Can they sue me or file a judgement if I’m not here in the state? Also, the girl wants $5,000 for her vet bill as her dog was in the car. She also says that she’s going to sue me. I eventually want to file bankruptcy to clear all this up. How long do I have to wait and does any of this affect professional licenses? I was at fault but I had no choice. The person in front if me stopped suddenly and I had to veer into traffic. He of course is not liable for anything.

Asked on March 4, 2011 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Without insurance, you will be sued for the damages (monetary compensation) resulting from the auto accident.  If you move to another state, you can still be sued.  If your whereabouts are unknown, the lawsuit can be served on you by publication.  Service by publication means notice of the lawsuit will be in the legal notices section of a newspaper for a certain period of time.  Even if you don't see the notice, it is still considered valid service of process.  If you don't file an Answer to the Complaint (lawsuit) you will lose by default.

If the other party (parties) obtain a judgment against you, you could file bankruptcy.  Until there is a judgment against you, it would be premature to file bankruptcy.  It may be a year or more from the time the lawsuit is filed before there is a judgment against you assuming you file an Answer to the Complaint so as not to allow judgment by default to be entered.

Whether or not this matter will have any effect on a professional license, depends on the type of professional license.  A court judgment against you and/or filing bankruptcy are matters of public record and could be discovered in a background check for a professional license.   


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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