If you have just experienced your first auto accident where you are at fault, you might be wondering what is going to happen. In fact, you might be extremely nervous if there are injuries to the other party involved in the accident. However, if you understand what can and cannot happen, you may have less of a stressful experience. If the other party is trying to sue you, the first things you need to do is contact an attorney, and study this guide to arm yourself with what you need to know.
When You Cannot Be Sued
If you live in one of the "no-fault states", it is highly unlikely that the other party will have the ability to sue you. The premise of a no-fault state is that each insured person involved in the accident makes a claim with his or her own insurance company, and they foot the bill for medical expenses as well as repairs to the vehicle.
Each state has their own rules and limits concerning how much the insurance company will pay, so if you live in one of these states, check to see what those limits are:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- New York
Washington DC is also a no-fault area in which you won't likely be sued.
When It Is a Good Time to Settle
If you don't live in a no-fault state, then you could end up in litigation if you are at fault in an auto accident. Your first instinct might to be to try to settle immediately to avoid court. However, it is wise to wait until your attorney has reviewed all the facts of your case before considering this.
Most personal injury cases related to auto accidents do end up settling out of court. But you should wait for your lawyer to advise this before asking him or her to make an offer to the injured party.
What Can Actually Happen to You
If you are at fault in an auto accident, you are typically only responsible for monetary damages, pain and suffering and lost time from work. This means that if you are sued, that is the only thing you have to worry about.
There is no jail time involved in these situations, unless the defendant and their legal team can prove that you intentionally tried to injure them, you were involved in a DUI situation or any other type of criminal activity that led to the accident. However, these cases are between you and the state, instead of between you and the injured party.
Don't make an attempt to contact the injured party yourself if you receive notice that they are suing you for damages. Retain an auto accident attorney right away and let them do the talking for you.
For more information, contact Altizer Law P.C. or a similar firm.