Automobile accident in LA in which I was at fault due to changing lanes in front of the other party. The other party's BMW 335 collided with my girlfriend's Honda Civic (I was driving), totalling both cars and hitting the side of a building. BMW had 2 passengers and the Honda had 5 passengers. Witness involved (security guard for a nearby parking lot) pointed me at fault.
My girlfriend's insurance is taking full responsibility but her policy is basic liability only with $25,000 property/vehicle damage and $15,000 medical. I am unsure if the other party has underinsured motorist coverage.
My personal finances are a mess: $20k in debt and making roughly $1k a month. I have 2 assets: motorcycle and Jeep. My girlfriend is in debt as well but no assets.
If a case is brought against me or my girlfriend, do we have to worry about our wages being garnished or losing my Jeep? I need my Jeep for work but the bike will be sold to help buy my girlfriend a car. Or should I keep the bike as a bargaining chip to offer to the other party?
I think you are putting the cart before the horse here.
The insurance company indemnifying you first needs to make the limits offer. Then, if the other party's attorney feels it is inadequate to settle the client's injury claim, the attorney and the client will sit down and decide whether or not it is worth it to file a lawsuit against you (the attorney will do an assets check on you and if, as you say, you have no attachable assets and are deep in dept, it would be highly unlikely that the attorney would recommend filing a lawsuit, as the plaintiff could obtain a judgment against you but have no real way of enforcing the judgment if you are considered uncollectable. Also, the other party may have Underinsured Motorist coverage on the auto policy, which would give the other party an avenue to explore for damages above your liability limits.
If a lawsuit is eventually filed and names you as a defendant, the insurance company will indemnify and defend you up to the available liability policy limits. At that point, you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy/debt-debtor law. You can use the "Find a lawyer" link at the top of the screen for the names of some attorneys near you.
Please do not message me for further advice. If you are in need of an attorney to assist you, please search for another attorney in the jurisdiction involved in your case, as I am now retired, and my former law firm is no longer handling personal injury cases. I am active on AVVO and answer questions only as a public service at this point.
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Let the insurance carrier do its job. If you get served papers, let the carrier know IMMEDIATELY. They will hire a lawyer for you at that time, who can answer your questions much better, knowing all the details of the case. My (very uninformed) guess is that the carrier will offer its policy limits, and once the claimant's attorney runs an asset search on you, they will take the limits and call it a day. Carriers make these policy-limits offers in order to secure a full and complete release, which if signed would protect you from any further liability. The alternative for the claimant is to spend a lot of time, money and effort getting a judgment against you for which they will likely never see a dime. Most guys in my line of work don't bother trying to squeeze blood from a stone.
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