What to do if a year ago I was involved in a motorcycle accident while driving my car?

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What to do if a year ago I was involved in a motorcycle accident while driving my car?

When I went to report the accident is when I realized I had no insurance. I thought my husband was paying for it he thought I was paying for it. I have paid for all the damages to the cars involved – $5,000. I just received a bill for the motorcycle. I assume what is next is the medical bills and the pain and suffering (he totalled his motorcycle, was taken to the hospital via ambulance where he was discharged a few hours later). As far as I know, he was not severely hurt – no broken bones – just bruising. We would like to keep our home – we have 2 kids, ages 11 and 9. Should we file for bankruptcy or try to fight this? Police report says I am 100% at fault.

Asked on July 8, 2013 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You are correct that after the property damage claim for the motorcycle, the motorcyclist will have a separate personal injury claim for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and wage loss.

Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.

If the motorcyclist had uninsured motorist coverage, he will file a claim through his insurance carrier.  The insurance carrier will then seek to recover the amount it paid on the claim from you.  If you can't afford to pay the amount, the insurance company will file a lawsuit against you.

If the motorcyclist did NOT have uninsured motorist coverage on his policy, he will file a lawsuit against you for negligence seeking damages (compensation for the medical bills, pain and suffering, wage loss and for the property damage to the motorcycle if the property damage has not been resolved).

It would be premature to file bankruptcy until there is a judgment against you which you cannot afford to pay.  California has a two year statute of limitations in a personal injury case which means that a lawsuit filed against you must be filed before the two year anniversary of the accident.  Therefore, it may be sometime yet before the lawsuit is filed and it may take a year after the lawsuit is filed before there is a judgment against you if you fight the case through litigation.

It would be advisable to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to determine whether your home can be protected in bankruptcy with the homestead exemption.  This will be determined by the value of your home.  Unused amounts of other exemptions may also be applicable.


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