It’s been almost a year since you were involved in a frightening car accident, but you finally feel comfortable getting behind the wheel again. Then, you receive a notice that you are being sued for that car accident – and the other driver claims the accident was a result of your negligence.
It is natural to immediately worry about what will happen. How will this impact your life? Will you have to pay? However, it is important to stay calm. Your insurance company can help you understand the next steps you should take, but here are three critical things you should know:
1. Contact your insurance company right away
Once you receive a notice of a lawsuit or summons to civil court, you should contact your insurance company. This is an essential step to:
- Inform them about this development and provide a copy of the summons you received;
- Ensure your insurance company has the information necessary to help you; and
- Understand the details of your policy and liability insurance.
Often, your insurance company will already have information from the other party’s insurance company, such as:
- Medical records;
- Police reports;
- Testimonies; and
- Other forms of evidence.
They should also have your claim regarding the accident on file. Gaining the knowledge you need and essential evidence can help you take steps to defend yourself against this claim.
2. Understand your insurer’s duty to defend
Contacting your insurance company also helps you obtain legal representation in these cases.
Most insurance policies and contracts assign insurers with a duty to defend, even if they have no duty to pay any damages. Therefore, in most personal injury cases, your insurance company will assign an attorney to represent you.
3. Do not admit fault
Even if the lawsuit states that you were at-fault for the accident and injuries the other party suffered, it is critical that you do not admit fault. Admitting fault can put any hope of a reasonable settlement – or even a successful defense – at risk.
It is rare that only one party is entirely at-fault for a car accident, and Illinois law abides by comparative fault. Therefore, let the evidence speak when determining who was at fault.