We're being sued!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by upallnight, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    2 years ago husband rear-ended someone. The insurance company took care of everything. Now the doorbell rang a little while ago, and husband was served with a packet of papers saying the woman has permanant, disabling injuries and he is being sued for large sums of money(Yes, the words large sums of money were actually used.) The insurance company is not a defendant. I live in NJ and everyone has liability. I'm really upset, does the insurance company take over the defense? Do I? I can't afford a defense, let alone large sums of money. The woman was fine, at the fender-bender, walking around- I do have insurance. husband called up the claims adjuster just now, but could only leave a message. Does anyone know what the heck will happen now? I'm freaking out. Is someone going to "win" my house, and everything else? I know I won't sleep at all tonight. Anyone? -Alyssa
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Contact a lawyer. I'm pretty sure she can't sue you because she accepted the settlement offered with your insurance co. She had to sign legal documents for that.

    I'd also call your insur co first thing in the morning.

  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Your insurance carrier at the time of the accident should take care of it. For now, small deep breaths. The woman's attorney doesn't want your house and stuff, it's the insurance company's deep pockets that are wanted.

    No matter what, nothing is going to happen quickly -- the wheels of justice are slow and even slower in personal injury cases. The longer a case takes, the happier the attorneys are -- the defense side because of hourly rates; the plaintiff's side because "injuries" (medical bills) add up.

    You did the best thing you could do -- called your insurance adjuster. They'll take care of things for now.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Did the woman sign the check your company sent? If so, she may not be able to receive any more $. Sometimes that means she accepts the entire settlement the ins. company offers.
    She may have hired a lawyer on her own.
    I would definitely talk to the claims adjuster and find out if she cashed the original check.
    Do you have any friends who are lawyers? Maybe they could take the case for a lesser amt of $?
    Get some sleep. with-the holidays coming up, nothing is going to happen very fast. I at least know that much.
  5. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Well, the only thing the ins. co. paid at he time was the damage to both vehicles, and I don't know about the injuries. Now that I am remembering, husband went and pleaded "guilty" for the accident and got a ticket(a long time ago)-Thanks for anything you can add!!-Alyssa
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Your insur should have all the details of the accident. Also you can go to the police dept for a copy of the accident report.

    She probably had no injuries. Make sure you speak to a lawyer, too. This sounds like a scam. And insur fraud is a crime.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    If your insurance company has a 1-800 number or on line customer service contact - I would start with them. Maybe someone can help shed some light on it from the insurance company.

    Depending on the suit - she's seeking big bucks from the insurance company, but is trying to prove she is permanently disabled which is VERY hard to do in any state.

    I have (knock on wood) been hit 7 times by drunk drivers, and 2 additional times by non-drunk drivers (yes 9 lives) and I have NEVER gotten a nickel over, my medical, a small replacement check for whatever beater car I was driving and that was it. My insurance company sued their insurance company every time.

    I'm permanently disabled, my back looks like a jig saw, and I've had arthritis since I was 16 - the accident that took my ability to walk Had to learn all over again - and I never got big bucks. I never got anyones house. I've been paralyzed twice since - and while I'm not now - the doctor says it may just take one more good impact - so no rollercoasters for me.

    I would get someone to start following this woman and taking pictures of her being disabled if that is what needs to be done, don't rely on the insurance company who handles several cases. Get a camera and get your own pictures if it comes to that.

    Sorry this is happening - but I think it's better to freak out tomorrow after you talk to your agent.

    Hugs for the day
  8. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Calm down!!! Your insurance company that was handling your insurance will handle the case. The liability portion (required by law in New Jersey!) covers this portion of the case.

    See, when husband rear-ended her and she was fine, the insurance company issued a check for the collision damage to her car. If she got "pain and suffering" on that check, she doesn't have a leg to stand on. If she didn't, they'll depose her, etc. and it'll take a year and a day to settle. husband will have to go to a deposition, but it will most likely be settled out of court.

    The reason I know is I took the NJ State Licensing class in NJ for insurance.

    Just forward the papers to your agent/insurance company and they'll let you know what to do.

    Now: if you only have like 50,000 dollars worth of coverage and they win for 75,000, you also have over/underinsured coverage. Get some sleep - you have a turkey to cook!!!!


  9. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Beth, I love you, thank you for that ray of light!!! Yes, I do have a turkey to cook. difficult child is spending the day with us and I am so looking forward to relaxing....I'm hanging my hat on what you said, husband can handle it tomorrow. Thank you.-Alyssa
  10. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Sorry I got to this thread late, Alyssa.

    Glad that Beth was a beacon in the storm.

    Get your rest, cook your turkey, don't forget to put the cranberry sauce in the fridge, and you might not get a hold of anyone at the insurance company till Monday.

    Not a biggie.

  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    :fan: Woooohoooo Beth! :dance:

    Now that Beth has come thru with some news to ease your mind, get some rest and concentrate on a happy holiday.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I know there are differences between the US and Australia, but there are some basic principles in common.

    At the time of the accident, the insurance companies dealt with the damage to the vehicles. If she had been injured at the time, her injuries would also have been treated at the expense of the insurance company your husband was covered by.

    But at the time she seemed uninjured. No claim was apparently made.

    So point 1) - check with the insurance company (and anyone else) to see if there is a statute of limitations on someone making a claim for personal damages well after the event. It IS technically possible that she sustained, say, a hidden spinal fracture which was not immediately apparent; or perhaps soft tissue damage which was not noticed or didn't really develop until two years later. And it is for this reason that there are some carefully worded options.

    Now, if she had a masked injury which is now becoming apparent, then she would have to prove:
    1) that her entire current health problems have resulted either entirely or significantly from that accident (if not entirely, then the settlement, if awarded, would be proportionally reduced); AND

    2) That she is either much worse now that could have reasonably been predicted back then, or her condition has gone on to deteriorate in ways which were not taken into account at the time of the original settlement.

    The reason I know this much - my health problems are the result of an injury at work, which was then complicated by subsequent medical treatment (provided at work by on-site doctor).
    We settled out of court about five years later, but at the time of settlement the condition was believed to be self-limiting and to have reached its worst point. I have been told that because no allowance was made at the time for ongoing disability and medical costs, that I could now make a much larger claim. And to make it effectively I would need to prove:
    1) that the original accident was indeed the cause (hard to prove, in my case; I know it, but medically, it's hard to prove because the complication I have is so rare); AND

    2) That my condition has worsened, and is still worsening, well beyond what could have been predicted at the time of the original settlement.

    The condition has to be significantly and unpredictably worse to make it worth the while of any court to re-open the case.

    What would happen in my case now? The original judgement (in terms of medical compensation) would be set aside and the entire case would have to be heard over, from the beginning. Any new judgement COULD be less than the original amount (unlikely, with inflation if nothing else).

    As time goes on, trying to re-hear a case gets more difficult and often, they get refused simply because it would be too difficult to ever get any further even with new information. That is why they require significantly more new justification, instead of just re-hashing old ground.

    In my case - I COULD simply go to court saying, "When we settled 15 years ago, I thought the amount would be enough for my needs. It is not, I need more money now."

    Sorry, not a good enough reason. If my condition is unchanged, then it is MY fault for not planning ahead. Maybe I could sue my lawyers for failing to properly advise me to take my future costs into account. But re-open the case? Hardly.

    Or I could go to court saying, "I have just been told that my condition has progressed to Multiple Sclerosis. And I have several medical experts willing to testify that this is DEFINITELY due to the original injury, and not simply unfortunate coincidence. This means my condition has significantly worsened since the original settlement, in ways we could not have predicted back then. Therefore I require the case to be re-opened, to take the extra degree of disability into account."
    The court could respond with, "MS happens. It's unfortunate. But it is not going to be possible to prove that the original injury was entirely responsible for the MS, it could simply have developed independently. And as for ongoing costs - in what way is the patient any more out of pocket that could have been anticipated at the time of original settlement?"

    So in your case - I agree with the others who are sceptical. So many people seem to think that you can make a lot of money out of being 'injured' in an accident. And when it all boils down, this is a myth. If you can afford to privately sue someone, then maybe. But generally when insurance companies are involved, there are clear guidelines which must be followed, amounts which they look up in a book depending on degree of disability and exactly what has gone wrong.

    My original settlement - I got paid reimbursement of medical expenses to that date, and a portion of my lost wages, to that date. No future provisions at all. I did not get rich, I just got enough to pay most of my debts incurred through becoming disabled.

    In this case - get good advice legally. And yes, check out the legality and feasibility of some detective work. Sounds to me like this woman got talking to someone who said, "You didn't bung on a crook back and claim compo? You fool, but maybe it's not too late to get enough money to pay for your kid's braces."

    I doubt very much than anyone is going to believe she has waited two years to take action over lifelong pain and disability. You should have heard within weeks, or at least months, that she was in severe pain and unable to work. She would have to give a darn good reason for waiting this long, and I frankly just can't think of one.

    Take a deep breath, enjoy your Thanksgiving, and relax. Look on this as perhaps some light entertainment designed to give you some amusement over winter, as you see a person desperately trying to maintain a convincing act for long enough to get this 'big bucks payout' she seems to think she can scrounge.

    And the ultimate irony? There is a condition you can get, if you bung on a disabled act for long enough. You actually can BECOME disabled, if you stop walking normally, put yourself through painful medical tests, use a wheelchair or crutches, stop exercising - the end result is then self-perpetuating, self-inflicted disability. Functional overlay happens to the genuine as well as the sham operator. The ultimate end point is Chronic Somatisation Syndrome. I've seen one, a doozy. Fascinating, in a horrifying sort of way.

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My hub rearended a woman at five miles an hour on an icy day. Six months later, she claimed whiplash. We reognized her lawyers as the friendly local lawyers who are on television ad nauseum claiming no fee unless they collect. I was livid. The woman had gotten out of the car and said she was fine. But Bernie from this lawyer firm CALLED her...insert cuss words here. Anyways after a two year battle, she got (drumroll)...

    absolutely nothing.
    They usually don't.
    Call your lawyer.
  14. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    This happened to me years ago when I lived in NY. At the scene of the accident, a really really old woman side swiped me on a main road and I wound up tapping into another car. That 'nice man' and I tracked the woman down and she stopped, the police were called, reports were made, her insurance paid for all property damages.

    I thought it was over, eventually moved to CT and after another year, just before the statute of limitations was up for filing any further claims, I received notice that the 'nice man' who helped stop the old lady was suing me for physical damages. He listed everything from numb earlobes to erectile dysfunction! The old lady was dead and so he was going after me, as I was technically the one who hit his car, though I did not cause the accident. I panicked much like you are now. I was crying, freaking out...who to call, blah blah blah.

    Well, I contacted my old insurance carrier, State Farm at that time, and they handled everything. The guy was suing me for over $3 Million dollars. He never ever got one cent. It took about a year to settle the matter and he walked away with nothing and I didn't have to do a thing. And what Beth said is true - if he is awarded $120,000 and you only carry $100,000 on personal injury, the underinsured portion of your coverage will cover the difference.

    I am now an insurance adjuster and I see this stuff all the time. If you were insured at the time, and according to the laws of NJ (most states have the same) concerning under or uninsured claims, you will be fine.

    Enjoy Thanksgiving.
  15. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for all the replies. husband faxed it to the ins. co earlier today. They told him their lawyers will take care of it. What is the matter with some people? Earlobe trouble? Erectile disfunction? Would a judge believe this nonsense? Would'nt you be ashamed to say earlobe trouble to a judge? Star, I could understand if a drunk driver hit you, sure, you deserve financial compensation. husband was at a stop sign, in traffic-stop and go. He was going slowly, I just hope I don't have to fork over a dime to this woman.-Alyssa
  16. Stella Johnson

    Stella Johnson Active Member

    JoG is right. I'm an insurance adjuster as well. Your insurance at the time will take care of it. You don't need your own attorney. That is the point of the insurance.

    Take a deep breath. It will be ok.

  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Something similar happened to me one time years ago. There was this car at a stop sign in front of me. We were both stopped. Im not sure if she rolled back into me or I rolled slightly into her. We both had manual transmissions at the time. It could have been either way. There was absolutely no damage to either car and we hit about as hard as a shopping cart hits a car when it rolls into your bumper. A mere tap.

    Well she insisted on calling the police anyway. She flagged down a passing motorist because this was way before cell phones. Cops come and they cant find any damage so they write up the report listing everyone in the car, no damage, no injuries stated, all occupants listed, took insurance information anyway, cop did list that I was the driver in the rear and if I rolled forward that it "may" have been my fault but fault could not be determined since he couldnt determine that an accident had indeed occurred. First cars occupants stated that they were considering going to the ER just to be checked out to make sure they were ok.

    I happened to have a disposable camera in my glove box at that time. I followed that car to Walmart where the people got out, walked in and proceeded to spend over and hour and a half shopping! I took pictures! Then they went to Kmart and did the same thing. Then they went to the grocery store before heading home. I followed them the whole time snapping pictures and then took my camera to the store to get them developed and to make sure the date would be on them.

    I called my insurance company up that evening and reported exactly what had happened. They never called their insurance company until months later and then they tried to say they were injured. I believe my insurance company heard from them 9 months later. They never paid a dime.

    Unfortunately I ended up having one point on my insurance record even though they never paid one red cent. Not fair!
  18. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Janet, that was good thinking! What kind of people will do this?? That is seriously crazy, and now your insurance goes up for no reason. Meanwhile,they were the ones who might have done it. Done nothing.-Alyssa