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: 60

  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

    • What ended up happening with your case?

    • Well I had same type situation. At the time I had no assets to take,so the saying goes…”You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip”. Is what it is and I wouldn’t worry about it,nothing ever came about from mine and that was 4 years ago. I was threatened left and right but explained to them go for it I got nothing for you. They just left me alone I assume cause they saw nothing was there. Now if you have assets you must be careful because they will pursue the case. I’m not a lawyer however all they can do is place a judgement. If your credit is bad already and want to fix it at some point,or remove the judgement simply file bankruptcy. That costs around 600-1000.00 depending on where you live and will wipe all debts except the following.

      1) Tax debt
      2) Student loans
      3) Mortage balances if you get to keep house.

  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.

      • that was of zero help. do everything you can…jee thanks

      • Your only advice to this person was
        “Stay Calm”. Really????

        • I hired an attorney on a contingency basis. You pay nothing up front. They will not be paid if they do not win. However when the claim is paid out they get 1 third of the payment from X auto insurance company. This payment depends on the other drivers policy limit and if they had no insurance then if you have Uninsured motorist coverage, you’d get coverage by your own company for medical bills.

  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.

    • I was in a similar accident. Get an attorney on a contingency basis. Dont have to pay a penny up front and they handle all of that. Idk of its a little late to begin treatment for your back but its worth a try. The medical bills for treatment and pain and suffering will be paid by her insurance company. Then the attorney usually gets a third of that. If they don’t resolve your case you pay nothing. Cant beat that. Im in love with this attorney so far. Theyre giving me results! I hope the best for your case.

  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?

  21. I backed up in to someone in a parking lot, minor to no damage. But the guy did not fix the two small dents. H did however sell the car, so My question is, Can he still continue his claim for it ?

  22. I’m being sued for 5000 I had full coverage at the time of the accident but my insurance company did not accept the other parties claim how am I responsible for this if I had insurance? Why am I being sued and not the insurance company? My insurance company is providing a lawyer what should I do?

    • That’s MY question. I wasn’t even in the car and I’m being sued just by being on the insurance!
      Hoping both our issues get resolved.

  23. Am being sued for a car accident my daughter was in, she was at fault. To my understanding they had uncovered motorist coverage and received a check from their insurance company. My insurance did not cover it cause she was excluded. Now they are sueing my for the cost of the damages and storage. My question is can I call their insurance company to determine if they received a check? Trying to collect as much evidence before going to court.

  24. Ivonne Rodriguez

    I had an accident a year ago . We were in stop waiting foe the light change and when cars start moving he did not move. Unfortunately I hit the car so simple an small scratch and nothing to my car. I called the police wuen they came they did not make any police report since it was minor and both of the drivers were talking outside the car standing and nothing relevant happened to our cars. I have ALLSTATE and now I received a notification that the other driver were out of limits of my policy and they are going to sue me. What is the est thing to do.how this can happened without a police report, and My Allstate insurance keeps telling me it is not a big deal. We all know the other driver is trying to take advantage of the whole situation, should I hire another lawyer?..I don’t want this situation continue escalate at the level I cant protect my little assets since I am a single mother providing for my family and I dont think my insurance is doing a good job protecting me. Please advise

    • How did your situation turn out? I am having the exact same thing happen to me, minor accident. Car didnt move and i bumped her, got served today for summons to court.

  25. My grandma was in an accident a couple months ago where she was not at fault but she was given the ticket. The cop claimed to be going by what a witness had said but damages clearly show the opposite. While my grandma was being written the ticket for no reason, the cop quickly lost focus as he got a radio call apparently notifying him the guy driving in the other car had a warrant for his arrest…mind you he had no liscense or proof of insurance to begin with. The cop quickly just handed her the ticket and left after the man as he was being taken to the hospital in an ambulance. My grandma called my mother and we arrived on the scene to take her to the hospital to have her head checked out and patch up some minor scratches. Fast forward till about yesterday my grandma is notified that her insurance is being sued for $100,000 by the guy. How. Is. This. Possible. Damages clearly show who’s fault it was but cop was very irresponsible and did not have a care in the world, sense of an racial issue but that’s another story. I just want to know how can a guy with an arrest warrant and no insurance and no liscense be sueing my grandmas insurance for 100,000$….someone explain this to me.

  26. I recently got into an accident where someone t-boned my car. Apparently they are trying to switch it onto me for it to be my fault and saying “I cut out in front of them” and now I am being sued for injury exspenses, however the girl did not go to the hospital and I have evidence that she danced in a dance competition 4 days after the accident. Will the case in any way be able to be dismissed?

  27. I had a question if anyone could possibly help answer. My mother was involved in a minor accident a month ago, where both cars were backing out of parking spaces at the same time and hit eachother’s bumpers. The other guy did not want to call the police to file an accident report, so they exchanged information and left. My mother’s insurance company determined that it was a word vs. word scenario, and that it would be a No Fault claim, where each party goes through their own insurance to cover the minor damages to each ones bumper. We thought that was the end of it, until she recently got a visit from the other guy involved in the accident, and he said that he was going to sue her through small claims court, because her insurance determined that it was No Fault word vs. word and they were not going to be responsible for his damage on his bumper. Does he have an actual case for the small claims court.? Or is this something that she should not worry about too much, because she went through all the proper steps regarding contacting her insurance and letting them make the determination.? I guess my main question is,. Could he still legally sue her for the damage to his bumper, even after her insurance company made the final decision that each party would be responsible for their own vehicle damage.? Thank you.

  28. Was in a car accident and was sure I only hit my friend in front of me. But a third party is sueing and not sure what to do. The police then said that third party car has my paint and my friends paint on their car, but they haven’t contacted my friend, only me. What do I do now?

  29. I was in a car accident last November. The next day I found out I was excluded from my dad’s policy.I was at fault and got a ticket for failed to yield.I decided to fight the ticket and it ended up being dismissed due to lack of evidence. But the person that was driving the other car had no license and got arrested after the accident. But now I guess the owner of the car is trying to sue me for damages.Are they able to sue even though the person driving their car didn’t have a license and probably wasn’t covered on their policy?

  30. I want to know if I was hit in the back by another driver he asked if we could just exchange insurance info and not get a police report because he didn’t have license but he gave a different version of events to his insurance company so they ruled the case a one word against another!! Now his insurance company is saying I’m at fault! Can this be if the were no witnesses and no police report and they didn’t want to pay for my damages so they said the story’s didn’t match! Can I be liable just because I didn’t have insurance even though he ran in the back of me in the state of Florida

  31. here it was happened, my friend “A” rented a car to come to falls from cincinnati. He was with his friends & cincinnati being a long drive from falls while they entered in NY near buffalo downtown, he let one of his friend B drive the car (unauthorized driver as per rental) .

    In one of exit’, this new driver “B” thought to go thru the exit & then changed his mind came back to lane. the car behind him “C” has to go thru a sudden brake & he “C” touched the curb & his car got damaged.

    The car rented by my friend “A” has no issues as there was no collision, they stopped called the cops to help the guy.

    Now there was no claims from my friend “A” as there was no accident or damage on there end, they informed about this incident to rental company too.

    Currently rental company denied the claim for the other “C” party, for us we just wanna make sure we are ok.

  32. Hi please assist 2 years ago was involved in accident. We were at robot waiting for green light and was driving in middle lane of three lanes. When light went green all cars took off. Within less than 20 seconds the car from left lane changed into my lane and closed my following distance and immediately he applied brakes. And since my driving following distance was taken by time I apply brakes was too late and I bumped him from the back of his car. Then he asked me to pay his access because he was deny he was wrong and was student not working. So paid him access money. Today the insurance sue me.

  33. On march i was at a stop light n there was a car infront of me n my foot slipped from the brake so i accedently hit the car infront of me so i pulled over to talk to the lady i didnt have insurance at the time to expensive but i didnt hit her car that hard now i owe the insurance comlany 927 dollars i believe i have health problems i cant pay it what can they do

  34. I was in a car accident dec 2015. I was the last car in a fraudulent swoop and squat. The first car was a temp plate. The second car, was a brand new sports car. The third car in front of me, was a car that was not hers and had no ins with 2 kids. Her and the car in front both lied about the order of the cars hitting and the ins co. Did nothing about it. I’m in Texas with a lot of bs politics going on. People using connections and so forth to make lives miserable. I kind of believe that the ins co i had may be in on the scam. a few months after the accident, I received a letter saying the settlement from them may not cover the amount of what they’re asking for and i may want to get a lawyer. I called the ins co, they never answered the line once i was put on hold and I never heard anything again. Lately, all my abounds are getting messed with. I paid $400/mo for car ins for 1 1/2yrs and finally cancelled because the were illegally overcharging me. (Discrimination) Now they are trying to send a bill to collections for $342 When they didn’t cancel my policy out of their own fault. Then my new ins co starts screwing with me, trying to get my policy to cancel in order to increase my rates. It’s just total harassment. I can barely live. I still have had no indication in the correct manner that this is from the accident but i can’t get an answer out of anyone as to what it is.

  35. i was in a car accident and the other driver almost t-boned me – hit my front right bumper & tire. i was smart enough – due to past experience – and grab a witness at the sense and asked him to call the police for me and i also got him wrote his phone number and he was so nice and even wrote down the other driver took the red. i just received the police report. Policeman who handled the accident called my witness and included the witness statement in the report saying that the other driver went into intersection when she had the red light. now she is trying to sue me. is it possible? does she even have a right to sue me when she run the red light and almost t-boned me? thanks and any feedback will be much appreciated.

  36. Hello 2 years ago I let a friend of mine borrow my car. She ended up backing into someone that night but I was not involved or even anywhere near where she was. Now I am getting contacted about me paying for the damage to the vehicle because she will not answer the collection agencies phone calls and myself and her no longer speak. Is there anything that I can do to avoid paying for her mess up??

  37. Same situation I am in. In 2011 I was involved in an accident and I was guilty one. It was on a Friday and traffic officers told me and the lady to fetch the accident report on monday and we agreed to talk about the costs on monday… sje didn’t show up.

    Few later, her insurance call me about the repairs and told me about R16 000 for bumper, lights, number plate, radio.
    I called the lady to find out why didn’t she consult and she told me she decided to take the car in to insurance and was expecting it in few days.
    Months later I got served R19 000 summons which I find that the towbar was included in the qoute and they seem to have chosen the most expensive panelbeater in town.

    Now I don’t know what to do as I have to appear on court with my income and expenditure.

    How do I get through with this?

  38. About a month ago i got into a wreck the cops said it was my fault. However i went to court for the ticket and they “waved” the ticket. I just received papers about the other party is trying to sue me. If the judge already threw out the ticket can they sue me?

  39. My daughter was at fault in an accident almost 2 yrs ago. Allstate has offered a settlement to the other driver 7 months ago but they have yet to reply. The amount they originally asked for was outragous. Statute of Limitations are up in 3 weeks.. I’m terrified they won’t settle and will she us. Daughter was 16 at the time if accident, now is currently in college. Curious what these people are up to. The adjuster says he’s been trying to contact their Atty. I’m praying the next 3 weeks goes fast because I won’t be sleeping! Ugh

  40. My daughter was involved in an accident in 2017 (Florida) which she was at fault. She was 21 at the time and everything including the insurance (100k policy) is in her name. The guy sued her insurance and they did not pay him what he asked for. He says he is disabled but I have found a ton of evidence he is go carting, riding atvs and working as a mechanic. He has now filed a civil suit against her. How should she proceed? Will the insurance company represent her?

  41. Kyle Mantle- Noxell

    I was hurt in a car accident I’m my mom’s car it was other persons fault this person also drove off when his vecheil wasn’t drivable my mom’s insurance wants to give me money to sue the persons insurance company is this possible or is is a tatict for them to get me to settle

  42. I was involved in a car accident a year and half ago,I was in stop sign ,when I proceed to go ,the other car was speeding and hit all my front ..my car was total, I was pregnant by the time ,now he trying to sue me .supposely is at my fault Bc I had the stop sign .but he was the one speeding and he was 17 …what should I do now ..?

  43. Heather FergusonFergusonm

    My husband and I were backed into causing damage to his roommates car. The car was considered a total loss. The other drivers insurance paid on The claim for about half the amount of the estimate. He is now turning around and suing.my husband. Can he get paid twice?

  44. I was in a car accident this past summer. I received notice that I was being sued. Accident was my fault. Reckless driving ticket thrown out and dismissed in court the to Sun being in my eyes, that is what caused me not to see the other vehicle. Car was insured in my Uncle’s name and I was a driver listed on the policy. I have since gotten a another vehicle and another insurance company of my own. What can I Do? No assets.. what do I do?

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