Notify Your Insurance Company Immediately If You Are Sued As A Result Of An Accident
If you are sued as the result of a personal injury claim arising from an automobile accident that you or your vehicle were involved in, you should notify your automobile insurance carrier immediately. Do not wait as even a weekend or a day can make the difference in whether or not your insurance company can successfully defend you. Do this whether you believe that the Lawsuit has any merit or not. There are several very important reasons for you to notify your insurance company immediately.
Your policy requires that you notify your insurance company if you are sued. If you do not notify your insurance company that the injured person has filed a Lawsuit against you and that you have received the Suit papers from the Court, you may violate certain provisions of your policy, which in turn may cause your insurance company to deny you coverage for the accident. Then you will be responsible for any legal consequences of the Lawsuit, possibly including but not limited to legal expenses and any money awarded to the Plaintiff.
The Court that the lawsuit is filed in, no matter where it is, will give a certain amount of time in which you need to file papers answering the Suit. If you notify your insurance company that you have received the Suit papers, then it becomes your insurance company’s responsibility to make sure that this deadline is met. If this deadline is not met, then there are legal consequences ranging in severity up to the Plaintiff (the person suing you) being able to file for a Default Judgment, meaning that the Plaintiff just won the case and gets a judgment in the amount that they asked for in the Suit papers whether it is more than your insurance coverage provides or not.
Even if your Defense attorney is able to convince the Plaintiff not to file for a Default Judgment, you may have jeopardized your insurance company’s ability to defend you successfully. If the insurance company representatives feel that their ability to successfully defend you in the lawsuit has been compromised due to any action or lack of action on your part, they may reserve their rights to withdraw coverage at any time. (They will need to send a Reservation of Rights or R.O.R. letter; see the link to an article explaining the R.O.R. letter below.)
Usually your personal automobile insurance policy requires that your insurance company hire an attorney to defend you if you are sued as a result of an accident and the resulting personal injury claim. Defense attorneys can be very expensive and you would need to know where to find a good one.
Not the least at all; notifying your insurance company that you have been sued will give you some peace of mind. You pay a premium to your insurance company to protect you from the liability claims of others. You will need to cooperate with the insurance company and the attorney that is hired for you in putting together your defense, but a lot of stress is removed when you have that ally working with you.
This article is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel. If you are sued, notify your insurance company immediately.
Other related articles that may be of interest to you:
The Claims Process explained.
The Insurance Company's Reservation of Rights (R.O.R.) Letter Explained
Mediation and Arbitration explained.
What to do when you have been involved in an accident.
The Value of an Umbrella (or PUP) Policy.
Why Bother Having Automobile Insurance?
The Black Box in Your Vehicle
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