What to do about an out of state car accident with injuries?

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What to do about an out of state car accident with injuries?

About 15 months ago my daughter, who was 18 at the time, rear-ended someone in another state. We just received letters stating the passenger of the vehicle she hit is filing a civil case against us for pain and suffering due to a bulging disc. She is being sued for $50,000, and I am being sued for the same amount stating that I knew she should not have been driving in another state. There were no restrictions on her license, so my guess would be they are trying for everything and seeing what sticks. Wouldn’t the pain and suffering be handled through the insurance company for either the vehicle she was in or my insurance?

Asked on November 19, 2012 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

John Ducey / Law Offices of John G. Ducey,PC

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Submit the complaint to your insurance company to defend you and hers to defend her.  They provide the attorney unless you had a dollar a day policy then you both will have to hire your own.

 

John Ducey732-458-5600

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You seem to be well informed about the process of defending a personal injury claim.  I do not practice in New Jersey, and I don't know the state in which the crash occurred.  However, I can provide general information.

Many states have "no fault" statutes that pay something toward medical expenses.  The insurance company for the car in which the injured passenger was riding would pay these expenses.

Damages for "pain and suffering" are liability/fault damages.  Your daughter's and your insurance company will pay these up to the amount of your limits of liability.  I am guessing that you and your daughter are both listed on the same insurance policy as "insureds."  If so, that policy will pay these damages.

If your daughter was at fault in the crash, she will be liable.  Most states have almost strict liability for rear-end collisions (with a few exceptions that usually don't apply), so you can count on your daughter being liable for this crash.  You want to be sure that her insurance limits are sufficient to cover any judgment that might be awarded.  If there is a question about this, you should discuss it thoroughly with the lawyer that the insurance hires to defend her.

The claim against you is a separate claim.  I think you are correct that the plaintiff is "trying for everything and seeing what sticks."  If she can make a claim separate from the claim against your daughter, then she can collect twice your insurance limits.  This is because almost all insurance policies have a limit "per claim" and a separate "aggregate limit."  This is probably why they are trying to make a claim against you.  This sounds like a weak claim to me.

Your insurance company will hire lawyers to defend you and your daughter.  Those lawyers owe their allegiance to you even though they are paid by the insurance company.  Most of the time, the insurance company has a strong incentive to protect you and resolve the case as efficiently as possible.  If there are competing interests here that place your personal assets at risk, the lawyer will tell you about them and advise you what to do.  If that happens, you can take appropriate action at that time. 

Of course, if you have reason to be concerned about either the lawyer or the insurance company looking out for your interests, you can consult your own lawyer to represent your personal interests.  This is called "personal counsel" and happens regularly when the claim looks like it could exceed the policy limits.  Most of the time there is no need for personal counsel.

As always with these kind of matters, you and your daughter should talk only with your insurance company and your lawyers.  You should not discuss the matter with representatives of the plaintiff or publicly. 

eric redman / Redman Ludwig, P.C.

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

your insurance should defend and pay the damages.  turn it in immediately to the company


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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