What Happens if You Are Sued After Causing a Collision in Clearwater, FL?
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Getting into a car accident is stressful, especially when you’re blamed for causing it. It’s even worse if the other driver was injured in the crash.
If you have car insurance and the other driver has Personal Injury Protection (PIP), it may cover the damage, but not always. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to get out of paying claims. As a result, the other driver might file a personal injury lawsuit and name you as the defendant.
You can’t trust that your insurance company or the other driver will have your best interest in mind. So you’ll need to hire an experienced lawyer and take matters into your own hands.
8 Things That Happen After Being Sued for a Car Crash
Even before the other driver files a lawsuit, you might get the impression that it’s coming. Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. That means that both drivers must first go through their insurance companies in order to cover damages, regardless of who caused the accident.
The injured party can file a personal injury lawsuit against you if they suffer serious injuries.
When you’re sued for a car crash, usually the following things will happen:
- You (and/or your insurance company) will receive a demand letter from the other driver’s lawyer. In the demand letter, they will include the basis for the demand and a summary of the damages that they are seeking.
- You will hire and consult with a lawyer before responding to the demand letter. It’s best if you hire a lawyer as soon as possible after causing a car accident because they might be able to prevent the case from ever getting to this point.
- Your lawyer will respond to the demand letter and if you don’t agree to their demands, you will get notice of the official personal injury lawsuit.
- Your lawyer will investigate the case and ask you to provide any evidence that you have already collected. They might take statements from the other driver and witnesses or consult with an expert.
- Your lawyer will negotiate with both insurance companies to try and get them to cover the damages.
- Your lawyer will negotiate with the other driver’s lawyer to try and reach an agreement without going to trial.
- If you can’t reach an out-of-court settlement, you will have a trial.
- If you lose at trial, you will be required to pay the damages awarded to the other driver by the court.
Not every car accident case proceeds in this way in Clearwater, Florida, but most of them do. A lawyer can help you understand how your case may differ.
Avoid Making Statements
Even before you get a demand letter or notice of a lawsuit, you should avoid talking about the car accident to anyone except for your lawyer. You should never admit fault, especially to the insurance companies, and you should avoid explaining away the circumstances of the crash.
Even if you are careful with your words, these statements can be twisted in court and come back to haunt you later.
What if I Can’t Afford the Judgment?
If you lose the personal injury lawsuit, you may not have enough money to pay the judgment. The judgment then becomes a debt, and the other driver will follow normal debt collection procedures.
Clearwater courts can issue a writ of garnishment to take money directly from your bank account or paycheck. There are exceptions to garnishment for the head of household, and bank accounts owned as tenancy by the entirety with a non-debtor. Florida also has a constitutional homestead exemption, which prevents the forced sale of your home to pay off the debt.
It’s scary to be sued, but the best thing you can do is hire a lawyer to help you navigate the process and look out for your best interests.
Contact the Pinellas County Car Accident Law Firm Of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg car accident law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve in Pinellas County, and its surrounding areas:
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,