What to do if being sued by some who was at fault in an accident?

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What to do if being sued by some who was at fault in an accident?

My wife was driving her car and hit a guy who was working on the side of the road. He crossed the road without looking and went right in front of my wife’s car and got hit. The police came and determined that it was 100% the guy’s fault for crossing the road and not looking and getting hit. It was in the daytime and my wife was driving below the speed limit, about 30 mph. There were also 3 witnesses (2 of which work with him) that say he walked in front of the car. In fact they actually yelled at him to stop and watch out for the car coming. The guy suffered some internal injuries and a broken knee cap and was in the hospital for 5 days. He has hired a accident lawyer and is suing us. Does he have a good case? This guy does work on the side; he works as a landscaper and contractor (not have contractor license). Also, I do believe he is an illegal citizen. 

Asked on November 2, 2010 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Leave aside his citizenship status; that does not affect the case one way or another. Nor does the fact that he may be an unlicensed contractor. The only issue is fault. The question is, whether your wife was  at fault--driving negligently or carelessly; e.g. too fast, not paying attention; etc.--and to what degree. The police determination is not the final word; if the man and his lawyer can state a "prima facie" case--or enough that on the surface it looks like there *may* be liability--they can get into court and put the matter before a judge and jury to decide. You may be well positioned to defend based on the facts, but it would be very unusual if a pedestrian hit by a car couldn't at least bring the case and force you to defend. He and his lawyer may be hoping to get some sort of settlements, as an alternative to you or your insurer (see below) paying the cost of a lawsuit (and taking the risk of losing--even good cases are not 100%).

If you haven't yet contacted your insurer--assuming you have liability insurance--do so immediately. The insurer will have to defend you, at least up to policy limits; and failing to notify an insurer of a claim or lawsuit can invalidate your coverage.


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