Due to financial strain, I allowed my car insurance premium to lapse until I could reach a point in my life where I would be able to afford it without putting of bare necessities at home. Unfortunately, I am now at fault for a minor/fender bender rear end collision with a vehicle and a side graze with another vehicle from the oncoming lane. Both are actively insured although I do not know what coverage they carry. I want to make right for my obvious fault but under a budget that barely allows for any extra monthly spending. I have no money and I am the sole provider for a family of 6 here in Mobile, AL. Please give me my best and worse case scenarios and what you suggest I should do to ensure that all parties are handled properly and with as minimal of negative impact possible towards me.
I am sure that you see the problems with letting your insurance coverage lapse at this point. Driving a car is a privilege, and part of the price that we pay for that privilege is maintaining financial responsibility (insurance) in case we cause damages to someone else. It is very honest of you, and admirable, to admit your fault and want to pay for the damages that you caused.
I would encourage you to make contact with the insurance companies for the other vehicles, and discuss the situation. Most of these insurance companies have ways of establishing a payment plan for you, to allow you to make periodic payments to take care of your debt to them. Be aware, however, that either they or the state may still take action to suspend your drivers' license until you have paid the bill in full.
As other attorneys have already stated, it is hornorable for you to want to make this right. If the other vehicle owners have uninsured motorist coverage, then they will take care of their own insureds. You may contact each insurance company if you like to work out a payment plan to pay them back; however, I feel you would still need representation to work out that agreement. First, because you do not want to just take their word for how much the damage is. The other parties also have two years from the date of the accident in which to file suit against you for any injuries they may claim. An attorney can help yo draft the proper release, whereby the other parties release you from any further liability upon your payment of their claims. There are other issues to consider that would be better discussed with a consultation with an attorney. I regularly practice in Mobile and Baldwin Counties if you would like a consultation. My contact information can be found by following the link below to my website.
You are honorable for wanting to make things right with the folks that you may have harmed. Unfortunately, since you do not have insurance, the worst case scenario is that the people you harmed sue you in court to recover all of their damages. The best case scenario is that they have full insurance and use their own insurance to pay for the damage done. You could offer to make payments to them for the damages.
You should get written estimates of the repairs to both of the vehicles. Try to work out an amount owed for each and a payment schedule for each that works for you. Failing that, you could be sued and a judgment obtained against you, which, more than likely, will suspend your license until the judgments are satisfied. Be proactive now to avoid more costly problems later. You also should stop driving your vehicle until you put some liability insurance on the vehicle.
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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.
The other posts on this answer are correct. Another option, however, is to simply do nothing. Many times, if the injured parties carry full coverage, and the at fault party is uninsured or otherwise "judgment proof," the case will simply go away - the reason being the insurance company or individuals may not wish to make the investment necessary to secure a judgment against you. Of course, the worst case scenario would be that either the other individuals or their insurance companies file a suit against you in order to recover their damages. My advice, considering your financial situation, is to do nothing, and if you are sued or contacted by the individuals or their insurance companies, seek attorney representation.
Fault, in personal injury cases, determines liability for an accident. Someone who is found at fault may be required to compensate the victim through damages.
If you're faced with a dispute that can't be resolved by negotiation, a lawsuit may be necessary. It will allow you to seek a legally binding solution in court.
Written by attorney Erin Ann Levine
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