If a respondent in a personal injury case leaves the country, how do I go about getting them removed from the case settlement process?

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If a respondent in a personal injury case leaves the country, how do I go about getting them removed from the case settlement process?

Almost 2 years ago, we were hit by a vehicle in the turning lane while we were headed start on a green light. The defendant took the blame but one

respondent has left the U.S. What happens?

Asked on June 20, 2018 under Accident Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The terms "respondent" is used on appeal only--not during the initial lawsuit or trial. For purposes of this answer, we will assume you mean "defendant."
You can settle with the other defendants for a mutually agreed upon amount while "reservering" (not giving up) your claim against the one who left; you should then be able to get a default judgment (i.e. win by default) against that defendant if they do not appear for the trial date. Since judgments last for many years, if that person later returns, you could use to attempt to collect from them.
Example; say there were no personal injuries but $9,000 of car damage and three defendants, one of whom has left the country. The other defendants are willing to pay $3,000 each; you could settle with them for $6,000 and hold the other $3k claim in abeyance.
Alternately, you could refuse to settle, go to trial, and attempt to get judgement against the remaining defendants for the full amount; they could try to find the missing defendant and get contribution from him/her if you win, but that is their concern, not yours.


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