What happens if I only have liability insurance and I rear ended a car causing a 5 car pileup

UPDATED: Oct 9, 2016

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What happens if I only have liability insurance and I rear ended a car causing a 5 car pileup

Hey I live in Los Angeles California
I recently rear ended a car in the carpool lane. I was
traveling around 40-45mph. I rear ended the truck
causing a 5 car pileup. I only have the minimal
liability insurance coverage. I asked everyone and
they said they where ok they weren’t injured. A police
report was filed. What should I be expecting

Asked on October 9, 2016 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the extent of injuries, medical costs, and vehicular damage. If no one was hurt much, the damage was minimal, and medical costs were low, it may be that no one will bother suing or, if you are sued, it may only be for a small amount. But if anyone was hurt badly or incurred significant repair or medical costs (or lost wages), you can expect that a lawsuit for a significant amount of money is likely.
If you caused the accident by rear-ending someone, it is very likely that you will be found liable, or financially responsible, for the injuries, damage, and costs. The law presumes that the driver who rear-ends another is at fault, because it was that driver's responsibility to maintain a safe following distance and speed given driving conditions, and to pay attention so as to be able to see the car(s) ahead slow or stop and therefore stop in time him/herself. The rear driver is almost always at fault.
If you are at fault and have only minimal insurance, if you are sued for anything, you will have to pay part or even most of the amount of the court judgment against you from your own money: your insurance only needs to pay up to those "minimal" policy limits. Note that other drivers' insurers can also sue you to recover amounts they pay out: so say that driver A suffered $6,000 in car damage of which $5,000 paid by his own insurer (he had collision coverage with a $1,000 deductibel) and also $7,500 in medical costs/tests because he later discovered he had whiplash, which was paid by his health insurer, his auto insurer would sue you to make you reimburse them for $5,000, while the health insurer could sue you for $7,500. This is called "subrogation": insurer's right to recover their pay-outs from the at-fault driver.

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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