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Accident - 8.24.11 Summons - 3.19.13 Insurance company originally said everything is fine, obviously not the case. what next?

Manhattan, IL |

I spoke to my old insurance company and asked why no one has contacted me regarding this since last august (2012), at which time I was told that this will close without any repercussions. Needless to say, I receive a summons last night to the lovely tune of $50k! I certainly cannot afford anywhere near that now or ever probably. So the insurance company will have the summons sent over in an hour or so, they get their attorney to look at it and assign a litigator. I need to know whats the worst case, middle ground, best scenario, and if it will cost me anything? I assume the attorney will try and get them to seek their funds from underinsured on their policy. hopefully... my policy had $20k/40k coverage and shes claiming bodily injury. So I guess she didnt accept original offer?

I just wrote a followup and the website crashed! ok to sum that up, I was at fault yes, and hopefully my insurance company will try and settle again prior to getting to court right? I openly admitted and went to court to pay my ticket and get my license back about two months after the accident, the lady was there and was in perfect health, she showed no physical injuries of any sort! So with that in mind, how can she have accumulated 50k+ of medical expenses - UPDATE: 7.8.13 - After MANY grueling months, I got a call from 21st saying that they settled! no overages were documented that I know of, thank god! :) I sincerely appreciate everyone's input and help. I have much better coverage now via Progressive with my wife and I left the job that caused all that stress in my life and may have been partly at fault for the accident! (120mi round trip everyday makes you very tired!). Thanks again everyone!

Attorney Answers 7

Posted

Contact your insurance carrier at once and let them know about the Summons. They will tell you what happens next.

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Posted

This happens when your insurance company offers to settle a case for half the medical bills ect. Best thing you can do is tell the truth. If your at fault admit it and move on. Worst case scenario you deny your at fault, insurance company defends the suit. It drags on for years. The plaintiff isn't going after your money. Just the insurance.

Know YOUR Rights. Take Action Now. CALL 855-648-4695. Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. Mr. Crockett is licensed in Texas in Illinois only.

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Asker

Posted

The Summons paper shows it as Suing me though, not 21st century insurance. Is that an issue?

Brian Heath Crockett

Brian Heath Crockett

Posted

The plaintiff can't sue the insurance company. They can only sue you and the insurance company is responsible for defending you and settling within policy limits. Nothing to be worried about.

Posted

Relax. Your old carrier will cover you up to your policy limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per incident. The $50,000 is just the jurisdictional amount that must be plead for Law Division.

This is what you do: get the suit papers to your old carrier ASAP and keep confirmation of this transmission and of the lawsuit. Make sure you follow up and confirm they will appear for you. They will hire lawyers per your policy.

Now, it is possible the case is a bad one liability-wise or damages-wise. Your carrier will attack all that on both ends and make sure they cover your back. If it turns out there may be a chance the case is worth more than your policy, they will notify you to obtain separate counsel.

Since I don't know the liability or the injuries, it is impossible to know if the $20/40 coverage is enough in this case. It is the bare minimum required by law so I suggest you up this in the future.

Good luck!

Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
Chicago, IL
773-944-9737
Email: stephen@hofflawyer.com
Website: www.hofflawyer.com
Blog: www.hofflawyer.com/blog/

This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship created or formed and you should not rely on this as legal advice. The suggestion is made that if you wish to protect your rights, you consult with an attorney immediately.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you everyone, I am sending over the summons to 21st now. FYI - I have 100/300 with progressive and I learned my lesson long ago not to have that bare minimum coverage! Needless to say, the wording in this summons is what scares me a bit, they seem to be embellishing her injuries SO much! she wouldnt have showed up in court looking ok if she was severely injured? right? either way, I will verify if I am supposed to show up or not, and make the appropriate accommodations. I assume that in the next day or two litigation from 21st will get back to me with next steps. Since I am like most middle class folks in IL and have no high assets at all, they cant take all my money away I hope! The insurance person told me that this lady may be able to use her underinsured motorist to cover the difference?? does something like that exist? is it common for this situation to occur?

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Posted

Like I said, it's impossible to know what the damages are so it's impossible to know what the case is worth. What can happen is if your coverage is $20K and the other driver's is more, there would be the "difference" available in underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). This should save you personal liability. Let's hope. Even $100K is often inadequate and the carrier matters almost as much, as many lesser carriers find exclusions and ways to deny coverage. I won't say Progressive is the worst, but you can do better. You have improved your situation for the future, but the answer to "how much insurance should I have?" is usually "as much as you can afford." Good luck.

Posted

Take a deep breath, this is not uncommon. Just make sure you have passed on the summons and complaint to your insurance company and that they know you have been served. They will take it from there. Make sure you communicate with your insurance company and attorneys as the request and appear at any court date, deposition or other appearance they require of you. As long as you do that they will cover the cost of litigation and up to your policy limits.

Many times attorneys file suit claiming in excess of $50,000 even if the case is not worth that much. Just because they ask for it that does not mean that the value of the case is worth more than your policy. In the event that you do not have enough insurance coverage, yes, the worst case scenario is that you could be held personally responsible for any excess over your limits; however, this is rare and unlikely to occur unless you have some significant assets.

My office handles many types of litigation, including insurance defense and plaintiff's personal injury matters. If you feel the need to discuss this further you are welcome to call for a free consultation; however, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over this just yet. 630-679-0930

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Asker

Posted

see update above! but again, thank you for the info! I got lucky I think but am pleased to have this off my chest!

Posted

I agree with other counsel, your old insurer will provide counsel for you. With such a low limit, though, you will probably receive a reservation of rights letter indicating that you are responsible for any amount above the $20,000. You may want to have your own counsel monitoring the situation to make sure that the insurance lawyer is doing everything that he or she can do to look out for your interests.

Mr. Padove is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Indiana. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Padove strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received. If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Burtonap@aol.com (219) 836 2200

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Asker

Posted

That overage, would that be something that is covered by the settlement or agreement? Assuming that one is reached. Since this seems very common... I am hoping that this gets resolved via insurance company's attorney and various policy agreements. That isn't too wishful thinking is it?

Burton A. Padove

Burton A. Padove

Posted

I am not sure what you are asking. However, you are responsible for any amount above your coverage unless the insurance company acted in bad faith in failing to settle the case within the limits of your coverage. If that happens, the other side will take an assignment of your cause of action for bad faith instead of going after you for the difference.

Posted

You should not be too concerned at this juncture. You don't even have an unassigned defense attorney yet. Once an attorney is appointed by your insurance company to defend you, you should schedule a face-to-face meeting with the attorney and review everything with your counsel. Your counsel will be interested in hearing your observations about the woman's appearance in court. Set up the appointment as soon as possible.

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If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received. r

This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Lars A. Lundeen

Lars A. Lundeen

Posted

Above should read: You don't even have an assigned defense attorney yet.

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Posted

Typically, if this is an in-house defense attorney, you won't get much of an opportunity to meet him or her. It is typically someone with little interaction with the insured/client, unfortunately. What the asker can be sure of is that these people will do whatever they can to avoid sticking their insured with a personal verdict for the most part. They are good at denying, delaying, and looking out for you, even if it may not seem that way. It might be tough to get in touch with someone until you know who is assigned, but once you do, try to at least establish a rapport on the phone.

Asker

Posted

Ok. Good point. I plan on being diligent and stay on this. If 21st Century doesn't get back to me in a week with an attorney (because they were dragging their feet, etc) I keep pushing for one. But is there any way they wouldn't provide one? I'm hoping they just drop the case eventually because when they see that I'm not worth anything (i rent, I have a car loan, low ish credit score) I don't have any assets! So maybe that will get them to realize that this is a waste of time. I guess time will tell. Thanks everyone for the input.

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Posted

It depends. I've had death cases, people losing eyes, and serious injuries where the other party only had $20K coverage and my client didn't have UIM of more value. In those cases it is sometimes worth trying to find personal assets. But largely it is not worthwhile because most people don't have anything that isn't exempt or can simply file bankruptcy. In almost all cases, the value of the case is satisfied by the policy and/or coupled with a UIM claim. I assume you have nothing to worry about. I'm not clairvoyant. I'd also assume that if this isn't a memorable scene with horrific injuries you noticed at the time that it is not going to be that big of a hit. Hard to say though. Usually, insurers assign counsel within weeks to file an answer and appearance. They may not contact you but you can at least try to contact them. You're conscientious, which is good. Stay on it but try to relax--at least you had some coverage and we can only hope the plaintiff's injuries were not severe. Also, keep in mind that insurance companies commonly will not pay the policy limits easily (which is usually needed to pursue UIM), sometimes forcing the plaintiff to file a lawsuit and force the action. There may be issues with liability, injuries, who knows. All you know is until you know all the facts, you won't know why it didn't settle pre-lawsuit. It can sometimes make little sense.

Posted

Give all the paperwork to your insurance company to defend.

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