Can I Get Sued in an Auto Accident?

Can I likely be sued for a car accident if I have car insurance and the other guy had no injuries at all? Me and my friend are also okay, but can he still sue us for anything? I believe that he was speeding when he hit me and I had obstruction of view when pulling out of an intersection, when I was t-boned on the driver’s side of the car. I believe I’m likely to still get a citation for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

Thank you very much.

Dear Driver,

You can be sued if you are the cause of an auto accident, but I wouldn’t say it is "likely" you will be sued. Lawsuits require money and legal hassles for the person filing the lawsuit, and people aren’t likely to file a suit unless they think they have a good case and it’s worth that trouble – that is, if the person thinks you have a lot of money to take.

When I was about 20 I had the same thing happen to me, where I was pulling out of an intersection where traffic wrapped around from the blind spot on my Chevy Blazer’s passenger side. I didn’t see the car and pulled out and got hit along my right bumper – doing damage to my car, but totaling the other fellow’s. He gets out of the car holding his neck and complaining of injury, so I was certain I was getting sued. We exchanged information and my insurance paid for the damage, and that’s the last I ever heard of the man. I’m guessing either his neck wasn’t so bad the next day, or he decided I was a 20-year old kid with no money anyway.

But if you are concerned about a lawsuit, the first thing you need to do is check your policy to see what your "auto liability insurance" is set at. Figure out what your maximum coverage is, and that’s the amount your insurance will cover in a lawsuit before you have to start paying yourself. For instance, if your auto liability insurance is set at a maximum of $125,000 and you’re sued for $150,000, your insurance would pay their amount and then you would be liable for the $25,000.

If an auto accident lawsuit is a concern, you might consider upping your auto liability insurance cap by paying an extra premium. The difference per month won’t be that much, but it can give you peace of mind. Or you can buy an umbrella policy that covers everything.

I’m assuming the police did not come out for an accident report, if you’re still sweating whether you’ll get a citation for failure to yield. If there wasn’t a police report, that’s certainly going to weaken his case in a potential lawsuit – since it’s essentially his word against yours. If the police did make a report, you should get a copy of his or her accident report and review it. Have this on hand when it comes time to visit a lawyer, if you receive notification that you are being sued. An accident report is considered hearsay in many states, but you can use the accident report on trial to either refresh an officer’s memory or impeach their testimony, if their report varies from their testimony on the stand.

Also, you can review the officer’s report and talk to him afterwards, if you think his version of the story is incorrect. Ask your lawyer how to do this before you contact the officer who filed the report, or check back here at Ask Deb for further information.

The chances are, if the other driver wasn’t hurt in the accident and your insurance pays for the damages to his car, it’s unlikely you’re going to be sued. You might get unlucky and have the jerk who tries to bilk you for money, but unless you have a lot of money for him to bilk, it’s unlikely he’ll decide to target you.

Good luck.