What should I do if I’m sued by the drunk driver and the passenger that hit the vehicle I was driving? - Accident Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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What should I do if I’m sued by the drunk driver and the passenger that hit the vehicle I was driving?

The driver was cited at the scene (by the highway patrol) for the cause of the accident, DUI, and Driving with a suspended license 3rd degree. I was just served papers the other day stating that the driver, or a passenger (who was also intoxicated), is suing me for every condition they could think of. What lawyer in their right mind would accept this case, when the driver of that very vehicle (which was either the husband or brother due to same last names) was cited with a DUI? Seems she should be suing him. The vehicle I was driving was a friend’s (who was also in the car), so the insurance company that handled the damages was his, not mine. Would it be worthwhile to call his insurance company and inform them, or because I was not the owner of the vehicle, would they not represent me?

Answer By Jeffrey Lapin
Lapin Law Offices
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You should call the insurance company that insures the vehicle you were driving immediately and notify them they you have been sued. Unless you are somehow excluded from coverage under the policy, which I cannot answer completely but it is unlikely if you had permission to drive the vehicle, then the insurance company will hire an attorney to represent you. In addition, the insurance company will also pay, up to its Bodily Injury Coverage limits any damages the people suing you are entitled to. If you have your own car insurance policy you might want to notify that company as well. A vehicle's car insurance is always primary; your personal policy would be secondary. If you are not covered by the vehicle you were driving policy then your own car insurance would hire an attorney for you and pay up to its limits. As to why you are being sued I cannot answer without more information about the accident. Simply because the other driver was intoxicated and ticketed for driving on a suspended license does not automatically mean that the driver was at-fault for the accident. For example, if the vehicle was sitting waiting at a red light and you rear-ended the vehicle, then you would be at fault and the fact that the driver was intoxicated or had a suspended license would not be relevant to whose fault the accident was. However, under different facts the other driver's intoxication could make a difference. The other driver's passenger could, depending on the facts of the accident, could sue both you and her own driver.

Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 11/20/2012

Answer By Victor Varga

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Counter-sue him.

Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 11/7/2012

Answer By John Russo

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First the suspended license is not an issue has nothing to do with the accident, don't say well they should not have been on the road, guess what, they were. Also it would help if you knew who was the moving party here, the driver, or passenger? Not enough details, you allege that the driver was determined as the person who was 100% at fault in the accident, if that is the case there is no issue as to the drivers fault, the passenger is a different story, what does their being drunk have to do with the accident? There is a case out there that many jurisdictions follow when confronted with a per se negligence argument since one of the drivers was drunk at the time of the accident, and this is factual, it happened. Driver was about a 4.5 on the rector scale driving the wrong way on a one way highway when a single engine plane tried to make an emergency landing on the road and hit the vehicle the pilot was killed the driver stumbled away without a scratch. The State charged the driver with vehicular homicide, and negligence per se because of how drunk they were, GUESS WHAT HAPPENED, if you said the charges were dismissed by the court, and it withstood appeal you WIN!!! In almost every case a DUI is the kiss of death, but no matter what there still must be a finding that they were the actual cause of the accident, and that is fact determinative, the plane was at fault because chances are they would have hit a sober person in the same circumstances. So your friends insurance company should be the one involved here, liability insurance insures things not people, so you should be covered under their policy, the passenger can go after everybody in this case, the car they were in, you, the owner, their insurance etc. They may be just throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks, if your fact pattern is correct I would not be to concerned, but your friends insurance company should be involved if you had permission to drive the vehicle, look at it this way, you know all of those wonderful commercials you see on TV about FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS DRIVE DRUNK, then if every person who tried to do the right thing, and take the keys, and drive their pal home, would be open to all kinds of liability if they ended up in an accident, then no one would want to do it, and since the insurance industry pays for these little adds it would seem to be counter to their argument to help out. Talk to your friend, contact their carrier they should have to cover this if there is any liability. P.S. what could be going on here is that your friends insurance company has already denied liability, so the passenger is taking a shot, and going after you, so do NOT , not answer that complaint within the allotted time indicated, and don't say there is no time frame there is if it is a true complaint, it will say you have 20days to answer, do that answer it, don't put it in your draw and forget about it, because you will be defaulted and that is a whole other nightmare, ANSWER THE COMPLAINT!

Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 11/6/2012

The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
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You need to call your automobile insurance as soon as possible and advise that you have been sued. Your insurance company, as well as the insurance company of the vehicle you were driving, will provide an attorney to represent you in the lawsuit.

Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 11/6/2012


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Turn the papers over to your auto insurance company; they'll take care of it. If you were also hurt, contact a lawyer yourself, and file a counter suit.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/6/2012

Answer By Steve Graves
Graves Law Firm
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You'd better call the insurance company that had the coverage on the car you were driving, ASAP.? The passenger might have sued the other driver as well as you, so as to make sure there could be no absent driver to blame. The insurance company should hire a lawyer to defend you, but if you want to counter-sue for your own injuries you'll need a lawyer of your own.

Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 11/6/2012


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You should just pass the paperwork on to your insurance company, and they should handle it for you.

Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/6/2012


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If you drive someone else's car with their permission, their insurance company will defend you.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/6/2012

Answer By Mark West
Law Offices of Mark West
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Send a copy of the documents you were served immediately to the insurance carrier covering the car and also your own insurance and put them on notice. One of them will provide you a defense (a lawyer who will represent you in this claim). I am assuming this is not a small claims action. There is a limited amount of time within which to ask so you should act immediately.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/6/2012

Answer By J. Todd Tenge
Tenge Law Firm, LLC
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The best bet is for you to tender this whole mess to your insurance company. They will handle it for you.

Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 11/6/2012

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