What To Do If You Are Being Sued After An Accident

If you are involved in an auto accident and the other party decides to take legal action and sue you, the first thing you should do is stay calm. Being sued is a scary situation with major implications, yes, but if you are intelligent about it, you can limit your legal liability to almost nothing. Before you panic, read our guide below to determine the smartest course of action.

A common scenario goes something like this: I was involved in an accident a year ago, and was found to be at fault. At the time, my insurance company paid off the claim, but an additional lawsuit has recently been filed, which would be outside the limits of my policy. What should I do?

The first thing most people do in a situation like this is panic. But there are some things to keep in mind, and when the panic attack ends, you probably won’t be any worse off than you were going into the situation.


How To Know If You Are Actually At Fault

In many instances, the fault is obvious by looking at the damage and the environment in which the accident happened. In other cases, how to determine who’s at fault in an accident depends on local laws. How to determine who’s at fault in an accident is a complicated question with many facets. In some states, where No-Fault insurance is the legal requirement, your insurance company is responsible for you and your property regardless of who is at fault. In this last instance, who is at fault becomes a consideration for determining points on your driver license, and other regulations regarding your driving privilege.

One consideration is simply whether either car was parked, or stopped. Road conditions are also a large factor in deciding how to determine who’s at fault in an accident; heavy fog or rain, or even high winds could play part in the fault involved. In many states, running into the rear of another vehicle is an automatic fault, because you are supposed to always have time to stop in the distance between your vehicle and the one you are following. However, if a vehicle were to back out of a blind drive into your path, there’s little you can do. How to determine who’s at fault in an accident entails comparing the factors involved, and establishing a ranked list of the causes involved. Failure to yield right-of-way to through traffic is always a fault.

If you live in a No-Fault state, your insurance will be responsible for your damages regardless of who’s at fault in an accident. In some ways, this can be beneficial to a driver, but for others it can be a frustrating situation. The theory of No-Fault insurance is that we are all responsible for our own problems, and one driver cannot hold another liable for property or injury damage. The problem with No-Fault is that your car insurance will fluctuate, usually going slowly upwards, as claims filed by the company are reflected back on the group of people they cover. No-Fault is in many ways to a cooperative insurance where all of the members participate to cover other members of their insured network.

But aside from No-Fault, you’ll probably need to know how to determine who’s at fault in an accident, before one happens. The angle of collision, speed of both vehicles, and even the time of day can be important in making the decision. How to determine who’s at fault in an accident will sometimes provide a mixed result as well, and what at first appeared to be the fault of one driver or the other, no fault is determined when all of the facts have been investigated.

What To Do If You Are At Fault And Are Being Sued

First, contact your insurance company. If you have changed companies since the accident, contact the one who handled the original claim. (It might also be wise to mention that if you’ve jumped ship, the insurance company is likely to be willing to help you. Loyalty is a two-way street.) Unless there are some sort of mitigating circumstances that justify a new lawsuit being brought, your original coverage is still valid, and the insurance company is still responsible for providing your the protection afforded in that policy at the time of the accident. Contact the insurance company, and make sure they are on the job.

For one thing, find out what the statue of limitations is for your state. If too much time has passed, filing a new claim is a fruitless quest. Now, lawyers know about the statute of limitations, and if the suit if being filed by a reputable attorney, this is not likely to be an issue. On the other hand, if the lawsuit is being used as a way to pressure you into paying more money that you are not actually liable for, disreputable representatives are subject to try anything.

As a general rule, the limits of your policy will be the limits within a claim is settled. It is rare for additional amounts to be levied beyond the policy coverage. In fact, the idea has been put forth that this generally only happens when the circumstances indicate that the defendant is likely to have assets that can be easily liquidated. This can be a tricky area, as it involves calculated loss risks in an endeavor to make additional gain. For this, it is probably in your best interest to make sure your insurance company is providing counsel, or contract for a lawyer of your own.

In a vast majority of accidents, the policy of the person found at fault is sufficient to cover the penalties and injuries involved. In those few circumstances when this is not true, you will generally know very shortly after the accident, and will be able to begin making allowances for coming up with the additional funds. For a lawsuit to be filed more than a year later, a great deal of causative effect has to be shown, and a reasonable explanation for such a long delay in bringing the suit. Your insurance company is your first line of defense, and putting a lawyer of your own on retainer is the next step. Don’t attempt to represent yourself in such a situation, as it is likely to be a skilled legal battle, and the facts of the accident will be of little regard.

Additional Resources

For more information about this topic, check out these links:

  • LawQA.com – What should I do if I’m being sued for a car accident?
  • PISSD.com – What to do if you’re being sued after a car accident


  Comments: 27

  1. I was wondering what I should do I am being sued for a accident the car I was driving wasn’t mine so there for I wasn’t on the insurance I have no contact with the driver anymore. In the accident I and the other driver merged into the same lane at the same time he hit the front left end of the car. Not sure how I go about dealing with this

    • Rose: Iam in the same situation as you were.. First did you settle the situation? What was the outcome? Did you retain an Attorney? Could you give me advise of what I will expect to happen in my situation? Finally if you could suggest an Attorney , I live in the Los Angel County,, Thank you

  2. michael taylor

    I was not a fault the police said it could not be determined who was at fault so no tickets to either
    party was issued. My son was driving and now one year later I get papers saying i’m being sued
    possibly for more than my coverage with allstate. Allstate as a lawyer representing them and me butI have no assets, no savings, no 401k, everything I have has a loan own it, credit card debt in excess of 20,000
    and a bunch of smaller bills what do I do. I live in Louisiana

  3. I was recentoy in a car with my fiance and our insurance coverage had expired. I’m worried about being sued for damages/medical bills.. What’s the best advise? We don’t own anything and my fiance draws disability. So what all could happen? I go to court on the 15th with understanding that I will already have a ton of fee’s and court costs, possible suspension of my D.L and a misdemeanor charge. The last thing I need is somebody wanting to sue when we can’t even afford Insurance (obviously)??? Help!!!

  4. What to do if I was involved in an accident that seems to be my fault and my insurance coverages lasped. The other driver didn’t have insurance as well. Now the other driver is talking about sueing me.

  5. I allowed my nephew to drive my car with the stipulation that he keep insurance on it. He had an accident and didn’t tell me until I received a law suit informing me I was being sued. He also didn’t have insurance. I am panicking. What can I do?

  6. I was involved in an accident in Sept 2016. No fault was determined and now the other party is trying to sue me. If you were to look at the pics you would think the other party would be at fault however, what should I do about this. The other parties Ins co determined at fault in their end. How is the done?

  7. I am being sued in civil court for a car accident. I pleaded guilty to lower charges and exempt from a civil lawsuit by the plaintiff suing me. I had auto insurance, is this legal?

  8. Barbara Richards

    I made a medical claim through a chiropractor who told me that I would have to pay up front or could talk to a lawyer for a letter where they would wait until the suit was done. Another driver hit my friend and I, he ran but soon stopped. An accident report was filed showing him at fault. I found out, shockingly, that the lawyer filed the claim against my best friend and her insurance company. The chiropractor had a form that I filled out and they faxed to the law agency. I did sign it and I did sign another form for settlement. Then I found out all this other stuff. What can I do to protect my friend as I would never have agreed to suing her.

  9. Had an accident rear ended a car driver got out and ran to another car I was taken to hospital hurt knee and have numerous medical Issues one of which probably was reason I fell asleep at wheel I was covered fir up to 300.ooo for other driver now they want to sue I have nothing and no job I rent and I own nothing have no money for lawyer what should I do

    • Mystuga Paluba

      Stay calm. You are doing okay right. What you need to do is everything you possibly can in this situation. Whether it be doing things to help or performing assistive steps to aid you in your situation. You want to be doing anything and everything that comes to mind that will only benefit you of course. And when it comes to the less important things, consider reinforcement of your efforts through collaboration with others who can help be your “backing” or so to speak. Good luck and I hope this helps, keep me updated.

  10. I don’t know what to do. I am being sued for a accident that I wasn’t even in. I got a letter in the mail from the police department saying I was involved in a hit & run accident and I need to bring my vehicle and who ever was driving if it wasn’t me driving to the police department. Long story short now in getting letters in the mail from some firm in Texas stating I owe $2900.

  11. I was in a accident in December 27 it was my faul because I didn’t have enough time or space to stop so I hit the car in front of me and their car is a total lost so I get a call from my insurance telling me that my insurance coverage is only 5000 and it doesn’t cover the other car and if they don’t settle with that and sign their papers they may sue me and i dont know what todo I’m so worry that I have to pay for the rest when I can nearly support myself

  12. I’m on the cusp of being sued to the tune of 81,789$. I rear ended the other person because of veiling glare at sunset, wasn’t going very fast. Now hes suing me for whiplash related tinnitus, lost wages, and pain and suffering. I left the insurance company i had during the accident because it became too expensive but theyre still representing me. I have no assets, no money, and no job. What do i do?

  13. Involved in a front bumper to rear accident from the side. (Passenger left) No kids or others just one female involved. But no injuries just car damages. And my lady was driving for me because I was falling asleep on the wheel. But I have premium full coverage and the car also has the gap insurance. The only bad thing is she doesn’t have a DL but has had made an appointment and was given until March. Can you please tell me the cons and minor pros? Thank you.

  14. The liability for my cat accident was put at 70/30 my fault and now the other driver is trying to arrange payments from me to pay for the depreciation of his car and the cost of a rental. What do I do?

  15. I got t-boned by a car that ran over a stop sign
    His insurance found Him at fault at the time I was and uninsured motorists the car belong to my mother in law
    I was going to sale it to one of my coworkers
    But the collision happen…now am in the step to take the car to get Valuated in shop…at the same time the person is suing me, I don’t understand? Can someone
    Please make me understand if am going to fight in court for something that there in insurance all ready determine that he was at 100% at fault…

  16. I rear ended another vehicle that was stopped waiting to turn. My insurance lapsed and ended the day before my accident. Tge other girls car is totalled and mine is undriveable due to the damages are way more expensive then I can pay for. I have no job and own nothing except my car and I have a court date for the wreck and driving with no isurance. I’m positive I will get a ticket fir the no isurance but I’m scared to death the other driver will try and sue me. What all will happen to me since I have no assests and no job therefore no paychecks?

  17. I was rear ended in February of 2015, I’ve suffered from injuries and am currently working with a lawyer. This past week I was involved in another accident where I was cited. Does this affect my lawsuit? I haven’t ever been at fault for an accident before. I’d really appreciate any guidance.

  18. I’m suing someone…. I know my attorney, and this old lady hit my car, and kept going!!! Her insurance denied the claim, and to be honest it was like 2000 in damages. My back is somewhat sore.. So i’m not taking any chances i decided to sue her. Her insurance put me through hell… I mean claimed i was at fault when the police report said she was! I don’t have time for games.

  19. I was in an accident where a driver ran a red light and hit me. The accident totaled both vehicles, they put me at fault for the accident. Now I am being sued by the insurance company I had at the time for the $4,000 some odd dollars that I still owed on the car payment. I have no funds or money to pay for anything. I live in the state of PA, is there any advice (or possible outcome of the situation) I can get?

  20. So my mom was at a 4 way stop and she had the right of way and was already halfway past where she was going and the guy from the right stop light rammed into her, but the back part of her car where her right side tire is……Everything was fine, a cop came, said we didn’t have to take down a report and gave us his badge number, everything seemed okay. Turns out, this guy is a jerk and claimed my mom was at fault. We had the same insurance company, they sent a guy out to appraise the car, the guy told is for sure we weren’t at fault. The insurance company til this day still hasn’t claimed who’s at fault but has fixed both of our cars. Again, everything seemed fine, we didn’t car as long as my mom was fine, the car was fine. Come to find out today, the guy is suing my mom for his injuries. How do I go about it because panicking seems to be the answer at this moment?

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