I’m Being Sued for a Car Accident. What Can They Take?
Being involved in a car accident can have many unexpected consequences. In addition to dealing with injuries and repairing or replacing your car, you may also feel the stress that comes with being deemed at fault for the crash. If you have auto insurance, as Alabama law requires, the other party will likely begin by filing a claim against your policy. However, if you do not have insurance, your insurance policy has lapsed, or the claimant’s accident-related losses exceed your coverage, they may file a lawsuit to recover the compensation they seek. If they win the lawsuit, the court will have the authority to take possession of your assets to pay the required damages.
Understanding the Lawsuit
If you are sued after a car accident, it is crucial to understand precisely what the lawsuit entails. The plaintiff (the person suing you) likely hired a personal injury attorney to represent them in recovering damages for their losses, a legal term for monetary compensation for injuries. These damages can include money for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related losses.
The plaintiff’s attorney will gather evidence to attempt to prove that you were at fault for the accident and that their client endured injuries and harm as a result. If the case goes to trial, they will present this evidence to a judge or jury and ask them to award a settlement to cover the plaintiff’s losses.
Protecting Your Assets
If the plaintiff wins the lawsuit against you, the court can authorize seizing your assets to pay for the awarded damages. This could include garnishing your wages, putting liens on your property, forcing the sale of assets (potentially including your home, car, and savings), or even requiring you to declare bankruptcy.
There are a few steps you can take to protect your assets. For example, an attorney can help you establish asset protection trusts or other strategies or work out an affordable payment plan with the plaintiff. However, it is important not to try hiding assets or engaging in fraud, which could lead to criminal penalties.
If you are being sued for a car accident but have no assets, then the judgment becomes a debt that you will eventually need to repay.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Hiring an experienced Alabama car accident attorney is vital after any collision. Many people believe (or are led to believe) that they alone are at fault for an accident. However, after a thorough investigation, it may transpire that the other driver’s actions also contributed to the crash. Because Alabama is a contributory negligence state, anyone who is even partially at fault for an accident may be ineligible to recover compensation in court.
An experienced Alabama car accident attorney can investigate the crash to determine what happened. Depending on the circumstances, they may discover that the other party is actually to blame, or that partial fault on the part of the plaintiff can absolve you of financial liability. With a skilled attorney on your side, defensive strategies such as these can help protect you from the life-altering consequences of a lawsuit.
Moving Forward After the Lawsuit
If you lose the lawsuit and have your assets seized, moving forward financially can be extremely difficult. Here are some tips for moving forward after losing an accident lawsuit:
- Contact creditors and negotiate alternative repayment plans
- Create a strict budget and look for ways to supplement your income
- Consult a bankruptcy attorney if your debts are overwhelming
Though the financial effects may seem life-altering, you can recover and work toward financial stability again with time and discipline.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney to Learn More
If another person is suing you for your role in a car accident in Alabama, don’t assume that a loss is inevitable. Our car accident attorneys at Stokes Stemle, LLC, understand the law, and we can advise on your best choices for moving forward. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.