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What Happens If You Are Sued?

So May was not a very good month for my blog.  It suffered because I was so darned busy that I forgot to write!  I also took the liberty of taking a bit of a vacation as well so there you have it. 

But now that I am back and ready to rock and roll (and type), I wanted to try to focus on a topic that doesn’t often come up for our own clients, but it does happen to those folks who have hit our clients and maybe to someone you know.  What happens if you get sued by someone that you hit in a car accident?  While our firm does the opposite side of this issue (we represent the person who is filing the lawsuit against the at fault driver), we have had many people call us wanting to know what to do when they get sued.

The simple answer is that your own liability insurance company has a duty to defend you in the lawsuit. If you are ever served with legal papers (called a Complaint and Summons), you should immediately call your insurance carrier and report the lawsuit.  They will, in turn, hire a lawyer to represent you in the lawsuit.  But the real question… why are YOU getting sued instead of your insurance company?  That’s the way the law rolls in North Carolina.  We (Plaintiff’s lawyers) are forced to sue the individual responsible for the accident, not the insurance company.  While the insurance company has the duty to defend their insured, they are not named in the lawsuit, nor is a jury allowed to even know there is insurance available.

Even if your insurance company provides you with a lawyer at its expense, you are still entitled to your own legal counsel.  It is highly recommended that you hire your own attorney to advise you if there is a chance that you could get hit with a verdict in excess of your insurance limits.  If that is the case, your assets will be in jeopardy of being collected against.  You will, before you get to that point, want your own attorney to independently advise you of the risks outside of the lawyer hired by the insurance company to defend you.

I am going to ask my partner, Jennifer Seate, to write a follow up blog on this issue regarding issues of Bad Faith against your own insurance company.  Keep your eyes open.  It won’t be another month before we write again.

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