If I was in a car accident prior to being married and I am now being sued, will my husband’s assets be at risk?

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If I was in a car accident prior to being married and I am now being sued, will my husband’s assets be at risk?

When I was 16 I got into a car accident and the women sued me for the full amount my coverage. My insurance doesn’t want to pay her $50,000 since they think she isn’t hurt. We have been in this lawsuit for years now and they are thinking of bringing this to court. I am worried that if they don’t settle for the $50,000 (which they probably won’t) that the jury will grant her even more money then that and I will start having to pay out of pocket. I asked if we could just settle but the claim lady said no, and they had all the rights to make the decision. I am now married and a soon-to-be stay-at-home mom; I won’t be working for a while (first baby due in 3 months). My husband makes a good salary, gets good bonuses, and owns stocks through his company. Since I am not working, will the lady suing me be able to take my husbands money? The only reason we didn’t wait to get married until after the lawsuit was because my lawyer, who worked for my insurer, said they can’t take his money since he wasn’t involved. But now my claims lady said that I better get a lawyer to protect his assets. I was not married to him during the time of the accident and I do not have my name on any of his things (bank accounts, etc). How can we go about this? What should we do? I don’t think it is right for them to take my husband’s money when he wasn’t even involved.

Asked on April 27, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Listen, your attorney works for you, but is paid by your insurer.  Do not confuse that point and make sure that your attorney is aware that yo know that he has an ethical responsibility to YOU and not your your insurer.  Now, let's get down to business.  You need to send a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested to the claims examiner (and her supervisor and any other big wig if you can get the name) with a copy to your attorney stating that it is your understanding that the plaintiff has offered to settle within the limits of your insurance policy and that they have refused to do so.  That it is your understanding obtained through personal conversations with her as your claims adjuster that they have instead decided to take the matter to trial, thereby potentially exposing you to personal liability.  That if a verdict comes in in excess of the policy and exposes you to a judgement over and above the policy limits you will be suing them for bad faith.  That you have copied your attorney on this letter to insure that he, as your representative, is advocating on your behalf to settle the matter within the policy limits and without excess exposure to you. Then go and see someone about making sure that you are judgement proof and that your husband's assets are covered.  And once this is settled make sure that your assets are joint.  Good luck to you and with the birth of your baby.    


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