Q: 3 car bumper to bumper accident on interstate. No traffic. I was the 3rd vehicle. Now I’m being sued. How liable am I?
I live in Indiana. One day on the way to work I got onto the interstate. The split by downtown that is 4 lanes(left 2 lanes 65South and right 2 lanes 70W). Rainy day... so me and two other cars in front of me were going 50-60mph(speed limit 50). The very front car was a lady with kids romping around the back. The middle car was another guy on the way to work by himself. Then I was the 3rd vehicle. The first car slammed on the brakes and just stopped in the interstate and the second car hit her. Then I hit the second car(because they both just stopped in the lane we’re they hit). This was between 8am-9am. I called the police and filed an accident report. I’m the only one who waited on the cop to show up. Report was never filed but I have phone records and all calls recorded. This was January 2017 and then January 2019 I got a summons to court saying I was being sued along with the middle vehicle owner by the first vehicle that was in the front for vehicle damages and PERMANENT INJURY.
A: The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath, everything is going to be fine. Second, deliver the summons and the complaint to your liability insurance company immediately. The insurance company has a contractual obligation to defend you and to indemnify you. (This means pay any judgment that might be entered against you up to the limit of your liability coverage).
The complaint may state "permanent injury" but the the extent of the claimant's injury will be determined through through the discovery process of your law suit. The discovery process is an information sharing process. So the injured party has to provide all their medical records related to the injury so your insurance company can assess it. The injured party may also have to share medical records of previous injuries to the part of the body they claim was injured in the collision. The claimant may be entitled to be compensated for those injuries caused by the collision, but no more. I say may be entitled to be compensated because the claimant has to prove that your actions were negligent and were a responsible cause of the collision in order to be compensated.
If you were speeding, this will be evidence of negligence on your part. Another question, which might affect the case is how much distance you kept between your car and the other cars. Think of the 2 second rule you learned in drivers ed. You do not say why the first car slammed on her brakes. If it was for stopped traffic that may be reasonable. If it was just to scare the kids, that would not be reasonable and the first driver might have fault for the crash assigned to her.
Ask the attorney assigned to your case by the insurance company all the questions you have. That is your right. It should make you feel less anxious.
Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer
A: Make a copy of the summons you received and present it to your insurance carrier. The attorney assigned to you will address the question you ask about how liable you are after conducting an investigation of the crash and the actions of the other vehicles. It could take some time for a meaningful answer to emerge because your attorney and attorneys for the other side will likely conduct depositions, which are sessions where attorneys ask the parties questions about the accident.
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