I got an accident due to my fault. It seems the personal injury cost of another driver may exceed my coverage.

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I got an accident due to my fault. It seems the personal injury cost of another driver may exceed my coverage.

I am a student and it’s impossible to pay. What will I do now ? I have no money to consult with an attorney as I have no money. What actions will be taken against me If i can’t pay the money. I am very worried about this. Please please give me some suggestions. You will be appreciated very much.

Asked on April 25, 2009 under Insurance Law, Florida

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

IF you own the car and have liability insurance your carrier has a duty to defend you in good faith and to pay any  judgment up to the amount of the policy limit of the insurance coverage you bought. They will supply a lawyer, but generally that lawyer will look out for their interests more than yours. If the car owner is your parents they too may have some liability.

If, like most people trying to save some money you were penny wise and pound foolish, and so bought only the minimum coverage, that amount may not be enough to cover the damages sustained in the accident.

In such a case your auto insurer sometimes offers to throw in the policy limits in exchange for a general release for you. The other side first tries to make sure you really have no other assets that could be seized after a judgment and there is no one else who may be liable and/or willing to kick something to resolve the matter, such as your parents, or a business you work for if the accident happened when you were arguably at work, or the bar you had a drink at under the state dram shop law, or the auto manufacturer or repair shop if there was a defect in the car that arguably contributed to the accident.

Assuming there is no other person or firm liable and no other apparent source of recovery and you really have no assets, and you are not expected to have any for years (the victim's lawyer will look closely and may demand some proof of lack of assets from you) the lawyer or party on the other side sometimes takes the deal.

Why? They know you have no assets they could seize. The also know if they sue on and spend the money to take it to trial and get a judgment you probably could file bankruptcy and wipe out any financial liability above the policy limits.

Sometimes the victim's lawyers may not settle and get a huge judgment hoping you'll be very successful and knowing that unless you do file bankruptcy they can seize most of your assets for years. If they force you into bankruptcy sometimes they try to get you to re-accept the debt post bankruptcy..... Do NOT do that.

While the insurance company will defend you to a point, our advice is get a lawyer to look out for your interests, even if you have to borrow the money from your folks. The lawyer's advice costs a relatively small sum and if s/he gets the insurance company and victim to settle with a release to you, you'd be avoiding big exposure and ruining your credit for years.

 


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 AttorneyPages.com 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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