I rear ended a vehicle during a rain storm. I hydroplaned my 2004 pickup truck and ran into the rear of another car. I estimate the speed I was traveling was around 20mph. My airbag didn't deploy. There were 2 passengers in the car I hit. The driver was uninjured and a passenger said he had a pre-existing knee problem that was aggravated.
Combined damage to both vehicles was approximately $11k. They are suing me for a yet undisclosed amount. My policy covers me to $15k per person/$30k per accident. Should I get a lawyer to defend me? How much can they sue me for? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Hydroplane Rear End Accident...":
Ronald (Leonardo, NJ):
You already have a lawyer. She is free and has great expertise in insurance defense law. Many people don't realize when they purchase an automobile insurance policy that policy comes with built in financial protection as well as legal protection.
Hopefully you have already reported the accident to your insurance company. That is something you should have done almost immediately after the accident. Until such a time as the other parties file a lawsuit your insurance company has Claims Adjusters who will attempt to work out a settlement with them.
If the insurance claims adjuster on your case is unable to work out a settlement and the people actually file a lawsuit, the claim will be taken out of the claims adjuster's hands and placed into the hands of one of the insurance company's attorneys. The attorneys will defend the lawsuit vigorously and will probably contact you to interview you about the facts of the case.
The attorneys also have the discretion to settle your case. If your case isn't settled and the case actually goes to trial you will not be liable for any amounts over $30,000 dollars.
In the unfortunate event the jury verdict is more than $30,000 dollars (and from the facts you present that is highly unlikely) you would have to pay the excess out of your own pocket.
For now let your insurance company handle the case. They have your best interests, as well as theirs in mind.
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.
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