How can I protect my assets if I just received summons from plaintiff who was involved in an accident with my vehicle 2 years ago?

UPDATED: Dec 10, 2013

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How can I protect my assets if I just received summons from plaintiff who was involved in an accident with my vehicle 2 years ago?

Since then my insurance and plaintiff has been negotiating over settlement. About 9 months ago, my insurer informed me that settlement efforts were unsuccessful with the plaintiff and that I should contact ins if I received a legal summons. Today I received the summons and contacted my insurer who will forward it to the litigation department. I have and had comprehensive coverage (100,000/300,000)for bodily injury on my policy. What can I do at this point to further protect my assets/interests in worse case scenario? I have liabilities and dependents, so are there any legal limitations that protect if the plaintiff decides to go after my assets?

Asked on December 10, 2013 under Accident Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Assuming this was a covered accident, your insurance will pay for the legal defense and/or pay any judgment against you, up to the limits of the policy. If you are sued and lose and the judgment against you exceeds your insurance, the plaintiff can go after your personal assets for the excess. If necessary, you could then protect your assets by filing for bankruptcy, since the claim against you would be an unsecured claim--the kind of claim bankruptcy works best against. (Unless you were DUI--you can't discharge DUI-related claims in bankruptcy.) You may also be able to protect some assets by setting up trusts (inter vivos, or "living," trusts) now, well before any judgment, and/or by gifting some assets to others. Doing this properly can be complex, so you are advised to speak with a trusts and estates attorney.

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 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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