Can I get my debt reduced if I was at fault for an accident but had no insurance?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I get my debt reduced if I was at fault for an accident but had no insurance?

I was in an auto accident back when I was 17, about 3 years now. I caused the accident on a failure to

yield but the official charge was failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.It was my sister’s car and her insurance was paid late, so technically for the period I had the accident i was uninsured. Our

car was totalled and we had to let it go. The car of the other party did not have significant damage it

was a T-bone type accident, I turned in the other driver’s path. The insurance company is charging

me personally, $19,500 for property damage to the other party. I have not attempted to make an

agreement, but after not having my license for years and working to pay off around $1,800 in restatement and court fees. I need to make this agreement to get my license back. I am a full-time student at a university working part-time. Is getting this fee even partially reduced, anywhere in the realm of possibility or will I be expected to pay it in full?

Asked on August 3, 2017 under Accident Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You have two options (other than simply paying, which is an option too, of course):
1) Negotiate a lower payment: the other side can voluntarily agree to accept less (if they do, get it in writing). Stress to them that, on the one hand, you simply can't pay that much--and if they get a judgment against you for that amount, you'll have to look at bankruptcy as an option. Also, offer them as fast/aggressive terms as possible for you if the do let you pay less. Basically, in the most calm, professional way possible, help them to understand that it's in their interest to accept less voluntarily, rather than fight for the whole thing, spend money on taking you to court, then end up having you declare bankruptcy anyway.
2) If you an then cannot come to an agreement, you can refuse and let them sue you. In the lawsuit, not only do they have to prove your fault or liability, but they also have to prove the amount of damage you if you believe the amount is excessive and they cannot prove it, you could elect to go to trial and see if you can't knock down or reduce their claim for $19,500--though you'd likely need some expert testimony (e.g. from someone who does auto repair, or some insurance adjuster) to support the idea they are overcharging (i.e. your opinon, as a layperson, is likely not enough).

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 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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