How to defend Suit form Insurance Company?
UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022
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How to defend Suit form Insurance Company?
I was involved in an accident two years ago. I was uninsured at the time and ‘at-fault’. The other vehicle involved had full coverage, even protection against uninsured drivers. A couple of weeks after the accident the driver of the car I hit received the police report and in it was my address. He personally looked for me to inform me that his insurance company ‘Mendota Insurance’ was going to cover all the damages done to his vehicle, but they were making him pay a deductible of 500. Since he wasn’t at fault and didn’t want to take me to court and make me pay for all the damages, he believed I should pay the deductible. I agreed, gave him 500 for him to pay the deductible and even made a signed letter of the transaction. I changed address a couple of months after the incident. A couple of days ago I was served with some court papers informing me Mendota Insurance is suing me for 7,171.07 they paid for the vehicle’s repairs. In the petition I received it states that Mendota Insurance have made demands for me to make payment, but I never received notice at all. I believe I never received any notice because they somehow have a wrong address. There is even an incorrect address on the papers I was served. I was served after they went around the apartment complex looking for me. I wanted to make arrangements with them but have been trying to contact them without success. What can I do to defend myself from the suit or even make arrangements to pay in small payments?
Asked on December 8, 2016 under Accident Law, Texas
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 6 years ago | Contributor
If you were at fault, you are liable, or responsible to pay, for the amount the insurer paid out on the loss; an insurer can recover its payments to its insured from an at-fault driver ("subrogation").
If they served you improperly, you may be able to get this complaint dismissed for lack of service, but such a dismissal would be "without prejudice," meaning they could refile--it's a temporary reprieve at best, and only if you can show that service was improper. The failure to contact you previously to try to get payment from you is irrelevant: whether they did or did not, they could file a lawsuit.
There is no right to pay over time: if you owe money, the party whom you owe money may insist on payment in full at once. Often, the other side will, for practical reasons, agree to a payment plan, etc., bu they don't have to.
Therefore, you are not likely to have, based on what you write, an adequate defense, but if there were service problems, you may be able to buy time. Your best bet is to try to contact their attorney(s) and offer to come to a settlement--payment in part, or payment over time--that you can afford. But settling is voluntary; you can't force them to settle. Ultimately, based on what you write, you do appar to hav an obligation to pay, s the best you can do is try to work it out.
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