Rear end collision with no property damage. The police were not called to the scene. If I am sued for more than my policy limit and have NO assets can my future wages be garnished? I am a full-time student. I am already $80,000 in debt with student loans so I am very concerned. The accident occurred in Vermont.
If you have not already turned this matter over to your insurer you should do so at once. The insurer cannot just pay your limits and leave you to fend for yourself. Your insurer should try and fully resolve the claim within your policy limits and obtaining a release in your favor in the process. If the carrier has hired you a defense attorney to meet with that attorney and address your concerns. If you prefer private counsel find an experienced attorney in your area on avvo.com.
I echo Mr. Costantino's statements. In addition, one of the benefits of having plenty of debt, and a lack of assets, is that you are most likely judgment proof - i.e. the personal-injury attorney knows that it will most likely be a waste of time and resources to chase after money that you don't have!
Under general principles of law, if the other person sued you, and proved that your negligence proximately caused his damages, and obtained a judgment, that judgment could be enforced by wage garnishment. Before wages can be garnished, plaintiff has to obtain a valid final judgment; before plaintiff obtains a valid final judgment which you don't confess, there has to be a civil proceeding against you and more than likely a trial; and, from what you say, you haven't even been sued. So any wage garnishment is a long, long way off, even if you were liable and even if you were to lose in a civil proceeding.
People carry auto insurance for exactly this kind of thing. You should tender this matter to your auto insurer for defense.
Not legal advice as you and I don't have a confidential attorney-client relationship. It's simply my two cents on the facts you describe in light of general principles of law. If you need legal advice, please consult a Vermont-licensed lawyer for an in-person legal consultation so as to permit the situation to be evaluated based on ALL the relevant facts and circumstances.
Yes, if you are sued and the judgment exceeds the limits of your liability coverage, your wages can be garnished and or assets seized. However, based on your description of the incident, it is doubtful that a large claim will be brought, if any. To protect yourself, you need to contact your automobile liability insurance carrier and report this collision to them. Failure to advise your insurance carrier may jeopardize your coverage in the future, should a claim be lodged against you. It is also a better policy to remain at the scene and call the police to make a report.
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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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