Report the claim to your homeowners/rental insurance company & let them investigate & handle the claim. If no insurance immediately consult a local personal injury defense attorney.
This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.
It was grossly negligent fopr you to pour gasoline on a fire. He may have a very strong claim (although you will have a defense that he was also negligent). Hopefully you were not foolish enough not to carry homeowners insurance, which will defend you and pay any claims. If you were foolish enough not to be insured, you will have to pay for a lawyer and may have to pay claims. Assuming you have insurance, I hope you already reported it as you should have done.
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Anyone can sue anyone for anything. Just because he sued you doesn't mean you'll have to pay him anything. Chances are if you have a homeowner's insurance policy, your insurer will defend you at no cost to you. If you don't have home insurance, you'll need to hire a lawyer to defend you. Take it seriously. Just because you think he has no case is no reason to ignore his suit. You MUST file an answer or your friend will win by default and then you WILL have to pay him for his own negligence. It sounds like he doesn't have much of a case, but you should certainly make an appointment with a local attorney and go have a person to person consultation.
If you have homeowners ins. notify your agent of the lawsuit immediately and follow his instructions as to getting a copy of the lawsuit to your ins. co., etc. Your time to do this is very limited, usually the suit must be answered within 30 days from the date you were served with it or you can lose by default.
Ga. is a comparative negligence state, so if the case is not settled and goes to court, the jury will compare his negligence to yours and split their verdict accordingly, whereas in a contributory negligence state, ANY negligence on his part would keep him from winning. FYI, Ga. used to be a contributory negligence state.
His status as a felon means nothing in this case, unless he has been convicted of a crime such as arson and has been forbidden to start any outdoor fire as a condition of his parole, if he is on parole.
Disclaimer: This response is provided to you by attorney Robert G. Rothstein (404) 216-1422 for educational and informational purposes only.No attorney-client relationship has been created hereby. Other attorneys may have different opinions or responses. If you found this response helpful, please indicate Best Answer to Avvo. Thank you.
Many more facts would be necessary to evaluate the strength of his claim against you. The fact that he may be a felon should be irrelevant in determining whether or not you were negligent. If he was such a bad guy why were you socializing with him? Report to your homeowners' insurance company immediately.
The answer is fairly straightforward - you don't need our website help. You need the help of your lawyer. Being sued is a serious matter and it needs to be handled properly. You need to find a lawyer in your area, starting tomorrow. You also need to review your homeowners insurance to see if they might provide coverage and a defense.
I answer your question in this weeks' episode of Taking Law with David Dorer http://daviddorer.com/?p=634
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