I suppose the guy is suing because my insurance's limit is $25K and he is trying to get that maximum so he can milk his underinsured motorist coverage for all it's worth (correct me if I'm wrong there)... he's suing for a million, but I am an unemployed full-time student with barely anything to my name. What will most likely happen in this situation? Will I have to declare bankruptcy? For what it's worth, he was walking around at the scene and drove away fine... it's been almost 2 years and I just got served with papers the other day. He is elderly and apparently needed back surgery as a result of the accident.
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
I am licensed in Nevada, but this answer should apply in Virginia as well.
It's my experience (both personally and professionally) that a person may be severely injured despite being able to walk around and move at the scene of an accident. The value of his claim is made up of two basic types of damages: special and general. Special damages are things I can give specific values to such as medical bills, other related costs, and wage loss. these include the future as well as past damages. In this case, he would probably have conservative care such as chiropractic treatment and/or physical therapy, medications and a physician in charge of the care. Then there may be some testing such as MRI's, CT Scans, X-Rays and other diagnostic studies. He may then have had injection therapy or other invasive and progressive treatment. Lastly, he would have the surgeon, anasthethiologist, and related costs for the surgery. There may be post surgical treatment as well. All of this can easily exceed $100,0000.00 in past medical bills. In addition, there may be future treatment required.
There may be wage loss as a result of the accident. This would simply be the amount of lost income he had as a result of the accident. lastly, there are the general damages - what most people call pain and suffering. You can go to our website at http://capandkudler.com/useful-information/my-personal-injury/ to see how these damages are evaluated. Again, this includes future as well as past damages.
If you have no assets and are judgment proof (meaning you can file bankruptcy if the other person tries to collect any Judgment against you), then it is not practical for the other person to attempt to get a Judgment against you. Keep in touch with your insurer and help them get the case settled. The other driver can go after his UIM coverage (if he has any) to compensate him for damages not covered by yours. If the other side insists on getting a Judgment, then you will have to file bankruptcy to get out from under the debt.
You can see why you will need adequate coverage in the future once you, hopefully, graduate and make a good living.
Hope this helps.
/s Donald Kudler
This answer does not create an attorney client relationship and does not constitute legal advice, but is solely the opinion of a Nevada Attorney.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
If, as you say, the other driver needed back surgery as a result of the collision, your $25,000 worth of liability coverage is most certainly inadequate to pay for his damages.
$25,000 worth of coverage, in this day and age, is totally inadequate when people get $1000 to $2000 bills for just being evaluated at the emergency room. The other driver most certainly will need to turn to his underinsured motorist coverage.
Turn the suit papers over to your insurance company and cooperate with them and the attorney they appoint to represent you. You also should consult with an independent insurance agent and review your current circumstances and determine a better level of liability coverage for you. As it stands, at the end of the day, you may have to file for bankruptcy because of this accident and your lack of appropriate coverage.
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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.