Can a home be taken to cover damages for a personal injury suffered in a car accident?

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Can a home be taken to cover damages for a personal injury suffered in a car accident?

An 81 year old woman on social security had a traffic accident by making an unsafe lane change. The other driver was injured and had their leg amputated below the knee. The injured driver was speeding per a witness. No one was cited and no action was taken by the police. The only asset that the elderly woman has is her residence and mobile home, valued at about $75,000. Her insurance will payout $100,000 per injury. Can the injured person also take her home?

Asked on October 17, 2018 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If the award in a lawsuit is for more than the covered amount--as it likely will be, since the compensation for an amputated leg is typically more than $100k--the plaintiff (person suing) can place a judgment lien on the defendant's property for the amount in excess of what was paid by insurance. That lien at a minimum will have to be paid before or when selling or transferring the property (e.g. some of any proceeds will go to pay the lien); it can also be used to force a sale of the property in some cases, so long as there is enough equity to pay all liens and mortgages on it, as well as the cost of foreclosing on the lien.
So yes: she could potentially lose her home.


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