What to do if I’m being sued for an auto accident that occurred several years ago?

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What to do if I’m being sued for an auto accident that occurred several years ago?

It occurred when there was as pile-up of cars in front of me. I avoided the pile-up but after clearing that accident, I was hit and the vehicle that hit me collided with other vehicles. First responders were called and I was taken to the hospital for head pain. My insurance claim was later paid, including medical and vehicle damages, my case was closed and my insurance company never told me that I was at fault. However, now years later, I have received a notice that I’m being sued in a civil court by one of the motorists involved in the accident. They are claiming that my sudden breaking caused them to hit someone else and I am at fault for their actions.

Asked on May 26, 2015 under Accident Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that you had liability insurance on your car at the time, then contact the insurance company (the one that provided you coverage at the time of the accident) and tell them--they should honor their obligation to defend (i.e. hire an attorney) and indemnify (i.e. pay a settlement or judgment) you. If you didn't have insurance then, if they are suing for more than the maximum small claims ceiling in your state, speak with an attorney; if they are suing you in small claims, you may want to handle the matter yourself (since a lawyer could cost you more than you are being sued for). Basically, whether it is you, a lawyer you hire, or a lawyer hired by your insurer handling the matter, there are two strategies: 1) you can try to settle for an amount that you (or your insurer) is willing to pay; or 2) you can defend, by trying to show that you weren't at fault  (that is, under the circumstances, your driving was not careless or negligent--e.g. you were reacting appropriately to events).

Again, though, if you insurance at the time, your insurer should handle this for you, at least up to the limits of the policy you'd had in place then.


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