If you were involved in an accident that another party claims was your fault, you may have a personal injury claim filed against you. This is not necessarily the end of the world. However, there may be some expenses or hassles involved if it is determined that you are legally responsible for another person’s injuries.
At the Law Offices of Patrick S. O’Brien in St. Louis, our founding attorney has been handling personal injury claims for more than 30 years, which is why we have extensive knowledge of what to do if a case is filed against you. Read on to learn about the first steps you should take.
Step 1. Contact your insurer who will handle the personal injury claim
The first step is to contact your insurance company. If you are being sued in a personal injury matter, you will be served with a summons and complaint, and you will have a certain number of days to respond. Call your insurer immediately and provide your insurance company with a copy of all court paperwork. Your insurance company may already have been notified of the lawsuit.
If you are carrying enough insurance to cover all damages resulting from an accident, your insurer must defend any personal injury claim made against you. This also applies in the case of a lawsuit filed in court.
From this point forward, it is your insurer’s job to handle the claim. It is not necessary for you to hire an attorney to defend against the claim. You will need to cooperate with your insurance company and its lawyers.
Step 2. Never say anything that could be interpreted as admitting fault
Right after an accident, tensions run high. It is not the time or place to determine who is at fault. At the scene, be sure to cooperate with law enforcement, be polite, and exchange insurance and contact information. Do not admit you were at fault or make any comment that could later be construed as accepting blame for the accident. This includes something as simple as apologizing to the other driver.
Try to keep contact with the other party to a minimum. However, if you must speak with them, keep this tip in mind and don’t say anything that could be used against you later.
Step 3. Let the insurance company handle everything. There is a good chance that you will not have to go to court
Most personal injury claims for car accident cases are resolved out of court. If you have sufficient insurance coverage and a lawsuit has been filed against you, it is possible that your insurance company will already have started negotiations with other party by the time you receive notification of the suit. In all likelihood, your insurer will simply settle the claim.
If your insurance company believes that the other party is making inflated claims to get more compensation, further investigation into the accident may be conducted by an independent third party. In any case, it is likely that the two sides will work out the details and eventually arrive at a settlement agreement.
Step 4. If the case goes to court, remember that you are still covered
It is rare, but on occasion, an insurance company is unable to settle a claim and it will take the case to court. The outcome of a trial cannot be known in advance. However, even if the court finds you liable for the accident and injuries, your insurance should cover the full value of the claim, depending upon your policy coverage limits. The bad news is that beyond the stress of dealing with a legal case, you can expect a significant increase in your premiums.
Step 5. Contact us for any other questions about your personal injury claim
The Law Offices of Patrick O’Brien is here to help with any of your personal injury concerns. Contact us today if you want to file a claim or if you have any questions!