What can I was at fault for a car accident and am being sued for more than my policy limits?

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What can I was at fault for a car accident and am being sued for more than my policy limits?

I was 17 at the time and now, after 2 1/2 years, my insurance will pay the policy limits of $15,000. However, the passenger is suing me for $85,000. I’m a part-time worker and full-time college student with no assets and only $1,400 in the bank. My dad was dismissed from the lawsuit 4 months ago. What’s going to happen to me?

Asked on November 26, 2014 under Accident Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

First, don't forget you can defend the case--not just on the basis of not being at fault (since you seem to accept that you are), but also in terms of the amount sought; the injured party has to be able to prove and support his losses (e.g. medical costs, car damage, etc.) and can only get the amounts he can prove in court. You can force him to prove his losses and dispute any amount he can't prove in court.

However, if you were at fault, he will end up with a judgment against you. Say that he gets the full $85,000 (he can support the full amount and show that it's all the consequences of your fault). He can try then to garnish your wages; but also, a judgment is good for many years to come, and he can try to collect from you if you later earn more, buy or inherit a house, get a car, etc. Therefore, if you get an unsupportably large judgment against you, you may need to consider filing for bankruptcy to discharge (or substantially reduce, or even eliminate) the debt.


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