Can I be sued or held liable for an accident my daughter was in?

by Elle
(Omaha, NE)

The insurance company said they would accept liability for the accident because my daughter (16 years old) did not keep control of the car. It was snowing and her back end went into the other lane. The driver of the other car was speeding and hit the trunk. The other driver has already filed an injury claim with our insurance.

Can she sue me or my daughter if the insurance doesn't cover all of her medical bills or for any other loss (pain and suffering)? What's my liability in this situation? If our insurance pays out the coverage limits, will they not provide an attorney if I'm sued personally? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I be sued or held liable for an accident my daughter was in?":

Elle (Omaha, NE):

Your insurance company is responsible to pay out compensation to third parties up to the limits of your policy. Presuming you named your daughter as a driver on your policy, the insurance company is contractually obligated to pay out claims to third parties resulting from accidents caused by you and/or by your daughter.

Moreover, according to the terms of most car insurance policies, likely including yours, in the event you or your daughter are sued, the insurance company is also contractually obligated to provide an attorney to you at no cost.

For example, let's say your insurance company was unable to settle the property damage and personal injury claim, and as a result the victim sued you as the owner, and your daughter as the driver. In that case, your insurance company would defend the lawsuit by providing an attorney at no cost to represent you and your daughter.

Remember though, at this point the accident has resulted in merely a claim by the victim for compensation, and not a lawsuit. In all likelihood, unless the victim was very seriously injured, the matter will be settled out of court as a claim. In the unlikely event the claim can't be settled, than the victim may choose to file a lawsuit.

Here's more information on the differences between a claim and a lawsuit.

If a lawsuit is filed, and after trial the court awards an amount to the victim which is in excess of the limits of your insurance policy, than you and your daughter would become jointly and severally liable for the excess amount. This means you both would be liable to pay until the amount ordered by the court has been paid in full.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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