Photo credit: bills.com.
It’s every driver’s worst nightmare: months or even years after a car accident, you receive a letter in the mail informing you that you are being sued for damages or injuries. Don’t panic; as the defendant, the legal system will generally work in your favor. The first step to handling this situation properly is to contact your insurance company. As frustrating as it is to be in this situation, the key to winning this type of case is to proceed carefully and gather important information that will help you come out on top. Read on to learn a few helpful methods to keep you from getting cheated in your case.
Check the Statute of Limitations for your State
Each state has a different statute of limitations when it comes to personal injury claims. For most states, this is around two to three years. If the individual attempting to sue you has exceeded the statute of limitations on their claim, chances are that their case will get thrown out of court barring extreme mitigating circumstances. It’s helpful to consult with an insurance specialist to get sound advice on the statute of limitations for your particular state.
Consult an Independent Attorney
Even if your insurance company is providing you legal counsel, it’s may be best to get a second opinion. In many cases, insurance companies aren’t completely aligned with the interests of their clients, especially in the case of car accidents that they feel fall outside of their coverage. Even outside of such circumstances, a second pair of eyes is always appreciated, and can shore up critical weaknesses in your case. Having an attorney that is independent from your insurance company will ensure that you have someone looking out for your best interests, and provide you with legal help if you do in fact have to appear in court.
Research the Litigant
Do some basic research on the person suing you, and if possible, their lawyers. In particular, look out for posts on their social media profiles that contradict the statement that they gave you; this may prove to be court admissible evidence. All such information should be saved, if possible, and given to your attorney without notifying the individual or anyone else. Any information you can gather on the litigant can give you an advantage in court and provide you with helpful evidence as well.
Don’t Be Misled
Disingenuous personal injury lawyers might bring up the possibility of jail time in an attempt to reach a quick settlement. However, as a private litigant involved in a private legal dispute, the state cannot impose incarceration upon you, even in the case of driving under the influence or other crimes. This is why it is important for you to have legal representation—they can explain any claims that the litigant or their lawyers make against you, and help you understand what is truly going on, and which claims actually hold weight.
Be Willing to Settle
If everything checks out about the accuser’s case, it can be easier and less expensive for both parties to come to an agreement out of court. Even if the amount of money that they are asking for in the settlement seems high, it is likely less than the time and effort of going to court, especially if you lose the case. Being held in default of such payments can even result in the suspension of your driver’s license, providing another incentive to settle out of court. Your attorney can give you a good idea of when you should throw in the towel, and when you should keep fighting. Even if you are being wrongly accused, sometimes the price of going to court (and losing) isn’t worth the fight.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people look for easy ways to get money, and target innocent people in the process. If you find yourself involved in a lawsuit long after your involvement in a car accident, get legal help and proceed with caution. Information for this article was provided by the legal experts at Gittens & Associates who specialize in personal injury cases in Newfoundland.
This article is from Ms. Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.