What to do if I was in an auto accident several months ago and was not at fault but am being sued anyway?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What to do if I was in an auto accident several months ago and was not at fault but am being sued anyway?

I rear-ended a car that cut in front of me. That driver was issued ticket; I wasn’t. The police report was filed. I didn’t report to my insurance company because I wasn’t making a claim. I only have liability insurance because I am 21 years old. My car couldn’t be fixed because the air bag deployed but my friend was trying to fix my car, so I continued my insurance payments. I still have the insurance active even though I now got rid of the car and surrendered the plates because I was going to buy another car and put them on. However I just got a letter in the mail from a lawyer group for $9000 in damages to the other car. I had not heard anything prior to this so I thought everything was okay.

Asked on December 9, 2015 under Accident Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Actually, if you rear ended another car, you most likely were at fault: the law generally presumes that the rear driver in an accident like this is at fault, since you were under an obligation to maintain a safe following distance and pay attention so as to brake in time. The fact that you did not get a ticket does not mean you could not be held liable.
If you had insurance at the time of the accident, your insurer should defend the matter for you and/or settle it, and, if you are sued and lose in court, pay the damages or claim for you--at least up to your policy limit. (The insurer is only responsible up to the amount of coverage you purchased.) You should contact your insurer and turn the matter over to them--this is what you bought/paid for insurance for.

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