My adult daughter was in a car accident. I am the owner of the car, and I cover her on my insurance policy. Can I be sued?

She is 25 and independent, living in MO. She is staying there because she had a year long lease from when she went to college there. I live in IL, and I'm just trying to help her out. I got a letter stating that the damages to the other party may exceed the policy limits. Can I be held liable?

Elgin, IL -

Attorney Answers (5)

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Chicago, IL
Answered

Not only can you be sued, but in a case where there is less coverage than is required to cover the damages, you likely will be sued or pursued.
Much of this depends on whether there is additional insurance you may have had that might be pursued.

I always advise my clients to have as much auto insurance as they can afford and this is a perfect example of why that is so important.

I do suggest you review all your insurance policies with your carrier or agent and also make sure you report this claim to any and all potential carriers. It is important to notify any insurer that they may be on the hook.

If you have no other insurance, you have to hope that the other parties injured had underinsured motorist coverage over the amount of your policy. If so, they will likely leave you alone and pursue that.

If you have any questions about an Illinois or Chicago Personal Injury or Illinois or Chicago Workers' Compensation matter, do not hesitate to call at 773-944-9737.

This answer is provided for informational and advertising purpose and is intended not to be construed as legal advice.
Daniel G. Galivan

Daniel G. Galivan

Personal Injury Lawyer - Clarendon Hills, IL
Answered

You can only be held liable if you were somehow negligent in entrusting the vehicle to your daughter. If she was negligent in driving it, it's possible that she can liable for any amount in excess of the policy. If she is an "insured", then the insurer should defend the suit. Note, because of the possibility of excess damages, you should consult with an attorney who has "bad faith" experience; your insurer has an obligation to settle the cliam within the policy limit if possible. Most of us would provide you with a free consultation on this issue, but hiring a lawyer in this type of case will require a retainer and an hourly rate; it might be worth it to protect your daughter propely.

Charles Joseph Michael Candiano

Charles Joseph Michael Candiano

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Chicago, IL
Answered

NO. You had insurance. Your insurance company has a duty to defend you. As a practical matter, nobody is going to bear the significant expense of suing you because you could discharge the debt in bankruptcy. After all the effort and expense of the trial, they would still only collect the policy limits MINUS the costs of litigation. Is it legally possible? Sure. It would only make sense where there was a horrific injury AND the defendant vast personal wealth or available business assets which would prevent the verdict from being discharged in bankruptcy. Such people usually carry very high limits of insurance making it unnecessary to seek a verdict beyond the policy limits.

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John Ellis Ellsworth

John Ellis Ellsworth

Tax Lawyer - Chicago, IL
Answered

I am an Illinois lawyer and am quite familiar with the situation you have described. Your daughter--was she at fault? Did she receive a ticket? That would be the first thing to find out. About whether you can be sued--anyone can be sued, but the question really is, is there a case against you. This depends on whether there was any reason why your daughter shouldn't be driving and whether you knew of this reason and let her drive anyway. If that's the case then you an certainly be sued and there might be a case against you. Report this incident to your insurance carrier and ask them to defend.

Brian Curtis Pascale

Brian Curtis Pascale

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Garden City, NY
Answered

Yes you can be held liable. As the vehicle's owner and policy holder on the insurance policy you are liable for any injuries resulting from the use of the car.

I wish you the best of luck.

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Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. 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 time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.

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