My daughter had a car accident with very minor injuries. Car was in my name and I have ample insurance I think (100K) now I'm being asked about my assets. The person is threatening to sue for long term care even though out of work a week.
First, you are not required to disclose any assets to the other side unless there is a judgment already entered against you. Second, your insurance company should be assisting in the resolution of the claim and if the claim can be resolved within your policy limits they have an obligation to do so. Third, your insurance company should appoint an attorney to represent your interests in this matter. If you do not trust the insurance appointed attorney, you can, at your expense, retain your personal counsel to make sure the insurance company is looking out for your interests.
Finally, you should NOT transfer assets to avoid collection. Doing so constitutes a fraud and the court will pull the assets back into your estate to allow the collection of a valid judgment. You need immediate legal representation and should find an attorney who handles personal injury defense to help you.
Who is asking you about your assets and why?
Your insurer should be providing you with legal representation who should be able to answer your questions or advise that he or she only represents you up to the policy limit.
If the lawyer hired by your insurer cannot or will not advise you, please hire private defense and asset protection counsel.
Who is asking for your personal financial information?
Prior to a lawsuit, a plaintiff has no right to know you personal assets. You should turn the matter over to your insurance company, who will appoint an attorney to represent you. In the alternative, you should retain your own counsel.
Transferring title to assets to a family member, for less than fair market value, when you know of a possible lawsuit may be considered a "fraudulent transfer" that could be set aside.
While I generally agree with my colleagues, here I would be hesitant to encourage you to rely on your insurance company's attorney. If they are hired by the insurance company, it is their interests that they will be protecting. If those interests conflict with yours, you will lose out. Hire your own attorney to defend your assets in case of a lawsuit. As to shifting real estate to avoid reporting it as an asset - that is known as fraudulent conveyance and won't score you any points with the court.
Have your insurance company and its lawyers deal with this. Unless the claim against you clearly exceeds your policy limits-- and this can be determined by talking to the insurance co and its lawyer-- you should not answer those questions. If in doubt, see an independent review by a personal injury lawyer.
What you really need to do is hire defense counsel immediately. The insurance company is obligated to provide counsel at their expense if you get sued, although nothing prevents you from seeking counsel now. As far as the affidavit, you have no obligation to provide information.
First and foremost cover your own backside. Minor injuries can turn into major injuries. Your 100K policy may or may not be ample to cover the damages. Your insurance company has a responsibility to hire an attorney to protect your rights. However a certified letter to your company requesting they tender your policy and/or a meeting with an attorney will be a step in the right direction. Further you do not have to disclose assets until there is a judgment against you. That doesn't mean there ever will be in this case but seek your own advice from an attorney you trust.
If the case was as minor as you are stating, then your insurance coverage should be enough to prevent further liability. Typically, lawyers perform asset checks because insurance companies are unwilling to discuss insurance policy limits. So in this case, the attorney may think you only have a minimal limits insurance policy and thus is trying to check other assets.
I would consult with the attorney that is appointed to represent you by your insurance company. If they have not been in contact or if a lawsuit has not been filed, then I would consult a Florida attorney in regards to your options in trying to shield your assets.
I do not believe you are under any obligation to provide any kind of a financial affidavit unless you are somehow resisting payment of a judgment.
While you may think that $100,000 worth of coverage is adequate, it really is not. Had your daughter rendered someone into a wheelchair, your coverage would be a mere pittance of the future expenses suffered by the victim. In Florida, you as an owner of the vehicle, would be equally responsible with your daughter to pay for any damages. I suggest you speak with your insurance agent and determine if you are adequately insured. With kids driving your car, you may want to think about getting an excess or umbrella policy.
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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.
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