Liability following car accident

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Liability following car accident

We were involved in a car accident whilst on holiday in Florida in November
2016. We were uninjured and the 3rd party also appeared to be uninjured.
Highway Patrol attended. Today almost 2 years later we have received
documents snd court paperwork indicating a civil claim is being made against
us. We are permanent UK residents – this was a rental car used whilst on
holiday. Do we have to respond? Do we ignore? What is the consequence of
ignoring. Can any judgement be enforced on us in the UK?

Many thanks.

Rgds.

Chris

Asked on October 5, 2018 under Accident Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Assuming everything was "served" (properly legally delivered, according to court rules) on you (which is a somewhat big "if"--international service is trickier than serving within the same U.S. state as where the court is located), then if you don't appear, you will lose by default: that is like forfeiting a sporting event by not showing up for the game or match. While it is headache to enforce U.S. judgments against UK residents, it is possible--the plaintiff (person suing) can have a UK lawyer bring it to a UK court for enforcement, and the UK court will enforce it against you (force you to pay). As stated, that involves no small amount of effort on the other side's part. So you could reasonably gamble, if the amount is fairly small (a few thousand U.S. dollars or its pounds equivalent) on doing nothing, since they may never follow through againt you--and if they do, you'd then pay (it being cheaper to pay if and only if they follow through then to spend thousands on a lawyer when you may never need one). But if the amount is large, consult with a barrister about whether you should respond, which would likely involve retaining a FL lawyer to represent you.


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