Being involved in a car accident is a nerve-racking and stressful experience, especially if you were injured. Disputes between the parties involved in the car accident and their insurance companies can also be stressful. After simple car accidents, insurance companies handle the disputes between the parties and cover medical expenses and property damage for those who incur them. However, more complicated car accidents and ones that involve serious injuries may require you to take further action to protect your assets and your rights. We will discuss several ways you can protect your assets after a Florida car accident.
Steps to Take After the Car Accident
When the at-fault driver has enough insurance, the injured party will typically settle the claim for an amount within the defendant’s insurance policy limits. The plaintiff’s goal is to obtain the most money possible for the least amount of effort. Most injured plaintiffs would like quick settlements, not ongoing litigation that can take years to resolve. The at-fault driver who caused the car accident will not have any personal liability as long as his or her insurance company pays for the claim.
However, some car accident lawsuits end up in court, and the at-fault driver may be personally liable for the victim’s damages. This typically happens when the at-fault driver carries a minimal amount of car insurance that does not cover all the victim’s damages. The injured party may seek more compensation through litigation and getting a money judgment than a settlement with the insurance company. If you anticipate that an injured party in your car accident may bring a lawsuit against you, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Ask your insurance carrier whether the damages will be within your insurance policy limits
- Determine which of your assets will be protected from collections if the injured party files a lawsuit against you and wins
- Start making a plan to protect vulnerable assets as quickly as possible
- If you do not have enough assets to pay the Judgment, submit a financial affidavit demonstrating that collecting the money judgment would be difficult, if not impossible, for the plaintiff
How Much Can Someone Sue for After a Car Accident?
There is no limit to the dollar amount of damages in a car accident lawsuit in Florida. Damages in a car accident typically include the victim’s medical bills, loss of income, ongoing damage for loss of functioning, and pain and suffering due to the injuries. As a result, the more seriously injured the victim, the more damages they will seek. It does not matter whether the victim has medical insurance. The total amount of current and future medical bills will be included in the damage amount.
Can I Lose My House After a Car Accident?
You may be concerned that you will lose your home if the other party in your car accident successfully sues you. Under Florida law, you cannot lose your home due to a car accident you caused in most cases. Florida has a homestead exemption that will protect the home of the at-fault driver in most car accidents. The homestead exemption only applies to one half acre in the city and 160 acres in an unincorporated county, but there is no dollar limit to the home’s value that you can exempt. Other types of legal defenses could prevent you from losing your house as well, such as a house owned by tenants by the entirety.
Can Someone Sue Me After the Insurance Pays Out a Settlement?
A victim injured in a car accident has four years after the car accident to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or owner of the at-fault driver’s vehicle. If the insurance company has already paid out a settlement to the injured party, the settlement agreement will typically prevent them from suing the at-fault driver personally.
When to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident
If you suspect that you may face a lawsuit from someone injured in a car accident you were involved in, we recommend discussing your case with the lawyer as soon as possible. While the insurance companies can typically handle simple car accidents such as fender benders without an attorney, an accident that involves injuries is different. If someone was injured, or there was a dispute over liability, it is wise to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. If any of the following issues are involved in your case, we recommend discussing your case with a lawyer:
- Physical injury
- Significant property damage, such as a totaled vehicle
- Reckless driving
- Drunk driving
- Hit and runs
- Vicarious liability for employers of commercial drivers
At Gould Cooksey Fennell, our car accident lawyers have experience handling all the issues mentioned above. We can assist you in defending yourself against a lawsuit that could result in your personal assets being taken from you. We can also help you protect your assets and protect your rights throughout the process.
Contact a Vero Beach Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been involved in a car accident in Vero Beach, you need to make sure you protect your assets. You also need to make sure that you preserve all of the evidence in the case that is favorable to your side to protect yourself. If your case goes to litigation and another driver or passenger brings a lawsuit against you, you need a skilled lawyer who will fight for your rights.
The personal injury lawyers Gould Cooksey Fennell have a proven track record of successfully defending clients in car accident litigation. We have the financial resources, experience, and knowledge of Florida law to provide you with the best legal defense possible. Contact Gould Cooksey Fennell today to schedule your free consultation.