What is my liability if 2 1/2 years ago I was involved in an accident and went to traffic court and was found not guilty?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is my liability if 2 1/2 years ago I was involved in an accident and went to traffic court and was found not guilty?

The car I was driving was not my own but the owner had active insurance. The insurance company of the owner of the car that I hit sued me a year ago. The case was never seen before a judge. Instead I spoke with a representative of the law firm who told me if I did not make monthly payments my license would be suspended. So a month later I began making payments. Since then I have been told (not by any lawyers) that what they did was wrong and i should not have to make payments on something that i was found not guilty of. Now they have garnished my bank account and my license is suspended. Please advise on how to proceed?

Asked on December 23, 2015 under Accident Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

1) Traffic court and the finding therein is *not* relevant to a civil lawsuit for damages: the two courts are separate, and a finding in one does not bind, or control, what happens in the other. Think OJ Simpson: he was found not guilty criminally, but then was sued and had to pay a ton of money.
2) If you agreed to make monthly payments, you can be held to that agreement and, if you fail to make payments, can take action, such as wage garnishment.
3) If the amount at stake that you agreed to pay is less than the cost of a lawyer, pay it, or if you can't pay it all at once, speak to the other side's attorney and see if you can't reinstate a payment plan. If the amount is involved is more than the cost of a lawyer, hire a lawyer and let the attorney can help you.

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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