If the damages in an auto accident for which I am at fault exceed my insurance coverage, am I opened to be sued?

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2014

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If the damages in an auto accident for which I am at fault exceed my insurance coverage, am I opened to be sued?

Can they come after my home, 401k, stock investments and bank account?

Asked on September 17, 2014 under Accident Law, Florida


Micah Longo / The Longo Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is YES. 

Suppose you have a $50,000 judgment against you, but your policy limit is only $10,000, then you are personally responsible for the balance of $40,000.  This is called an excess judgment. 

Now, unless you have significant assets which can be obtained through collection procedures, attorneys rarely pursue excess judgments, for no other reason than the cost of pursuing an excess judgment outweighs the likelihood of success.

Essentially, the Plaintiff becomes a judgment creditor any other creditor (think credit card companies).  Luckily, Florida has very "debtor-friendly" laws, protecting things like your residential home.



Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if the damages exceed your policy limits, you are personally on the hook.  What they can "come after" if they obtain a judgment against you varies by state.  Generally, there is a homestead exemption.  Almost always creditors with a judgment can garnish your bank account and your wages.  They can also make you appear at a debtor's exam to reveal your other assets that may be subject to a lien.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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