I was found at fault for an auto accident when I was not the one driving (car was taken unknowingly) What happens now? The damage done to the other vehicle(s) is quite expensive, and I am not insured.I was told by the insurance company that they do not make payment arrangements. What are my options and what if anything will happen to the responsible party? I am worried that I cannot afford to pay and my record will be ruined.
Attiorney Taradji is 100% right.
It is hard to imagine you would have been found "at fault" for the crash if the car was taken without your permission. I suspect there are more facts here you are not telling us. You need to be interviewed in depth by an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. You are probably going to be sued for damage to the other car, and you want a lawyer ready to step in for you when the time comes.. You also want to have that lawyer ready to defend you when you are called for a hearing as to why your license should not be suspended for failure to have public liability insurance by the office of the Secretary of State. That is likely to happen even before a lawsuit follows.
Above all, keep in touch with the driver who was involved in the crash if you can. You may need cooperation from that driver in court or at the hearing before the Secretary of State's administrative law judge.
The cost of a consultation with a lawyer is nothing compared to the cost of going without a driver' license.
Since your vehicle was being used by another driver who was not a permissive user of your car, the insurance can deny coverage.
At this point, you may get sued by the other driver for damages. In Illinois you may be held up to 100% at fault for any damages the driver may have caused. There is nothing for you to do at this point, until you receive a demand of payment and/or paperwork showing that you have been sued. At that point, you will need to get yourself an attorney to defend you. If you know the driver of the vehicle, you should make sure that the driver will cooperate with you in defending your case.
The finding of guilty at the traffic court will have no bearing on the civil case-in fact the law does not allow it to be mentioned--unless a plea of guilty was entered by the driver. In which case, negligence is admitted but you still have room to fight and defend on the issues of damages and extent thereof.
I hope this helps-
Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.
I am uncertain if you are saying you had no insurance at all on your car or if your insurance is denying the claim because the driver was not a permitted user of the vehicle.
Illinois, the state in which I practice, is a mandatory insurance state. You must maintain liability coverage on your car and failure to do so means you likely will face a criminal sanction too (probably a fine).
The key thing to do is to find a lawyer who is willing to discuss this with you. Likely, the best thing you can do is to retain a lawyer, have him or her challenge the facts of the incident to the extent that they can be, and possibly file an action against the non-permitted driver of your vehicle.
Ultimately, working out a payment plan is your best "real-world" option.
In the future, please make sure to maintain insurance for all vehicles and secure the keys to those vehicles. These two steps are important for any car owner in Illinois!
Feel free to call me at 773.944.9737 to discuss any questions or concerns.
I am sorry to read about your car accident pain. I don't practice law in Illinois, but there are some basis rules that apply in all States. My first question is, who found you at fault? Did you participate in a trial in a civil court? Was there an arbitration in which you participated where your were found "at fault." Or did the other vehicle's insurance company tell you the accident was your fault?
In order for you to be financially responsible, the driver of your vehicle have operated your vehicle with your permission. The rules pertaining to "permission" vary from State to State. For example, a car thief who steals your vehicle is not driving with your permission. However, you son who found the car keys on the kitchen counter and took your car for a ride, may be.
I urge you to seek a consultation with a lawyer in your area to discuss these and other issues before you pay for this accident. You may have viable, winning defenses.
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