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What are the possible consequences in an injury accident case where insurance may not be sufficient?

Buckeye, AZ |

Multiple vehicle accident where husband was last driver, rear-ended car full of injured passengers..liability has not been determined as vehicle that "started" accident has a blow-out, exited freeway on left shoulder, and re-entered freeway, causing car to slow, and my husband to negligence, intoxication, or texting husband only party cited (that we know of)..(we are of limited assets and one-income family) Can injured parties sue for retirement moneys, wage garnishments, wrongful death scenarios..lost driving privileges, or jail time?!? Please let me know, any insight appreciated.

Attorney Answers 6

  1. If your husband is designated as the party responsible for causing the collision, your auto insurance should protect you up to the limit of your policy. Contact your insurance company. Good luck.

    The above information is the opinion of the author only, and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Should you desire a personal consultation to more fully discuss your facts and legal options available, you may contact my office at 928.775.9398.

  2. You should probably consult with a lawfirm in your local area that handles both personal injury and collection/bankruptcy matters. I handle personal injury cases in PA and I can tell you very often the plaintiffs in this type case wind up settling for the policy limits of the at fault party. However without a complete understanding of the facts and finacils there is no way to give a good opinion on this forum.

  3. As one attorney stated, often the other drivers will settle for the limits of insurance. The parties can sue for a judgment. Collection of the judgment may come from multiple sources. However, AZ has exemptions for some of your assets. As long as your retirement is in a protected form it cannot be garnished. There are other means of collecting the judgment, however, so meeting with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options is a good idea, especially if the attorney handles both areas of law.

    I am an Attorney with Fife & Cesta, a compasionate bankruptcy firm conveniently located off the US 60 in Mesa, Arizona. In addition to our other areas of practice, Fife & Cesta is a debt relief agency. We help people and families file for relief under the bankruptcy code. The answers given here are based on the information in the question, but for a complete answer you should have a consultation with an attorney you trust. Call (480) 850-6541 for a free bankruptcy consultation. We carefully evaluate your situation and give you real advice.

  4. Your husband may have a defense called an "emergency defense." That is, the blowout created an emergency condition which caused an unavoidable collision. Now, that is a defense in New York, and rarely a successful one, but if its available it should be asserted.. (I don't know if its available as a defense in Arizona.) Still, your insurance carrier will provide you with a defense attorney who will decide on your best defense(s).

    You don't say what the injuries are, so it's impossible to estimate what your exposure may be. Some plaintiff's lawyers like myself will not look beyond the insurance coverage except in extraordinary circumstances.

    Bottom line, you need to report this to your carrier immediately and let them sort it out. And if you are worried about protecting your assets from a judgment, see a bankruptcy lawyer, too.

    I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not intended to be taken as legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.

  5. If he doesn't have much coverage, and multiple people are suing, it would be prudent to retain local independent counsel.

  6. Every car is suppose to keep an assured clear distance from the car in front of them. In other words, drivers are suppose to be able to react to emergencies. However, your insurance company lawyer is obligated to protect your interest. It is not a bad idea to consult outside counsel.

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