Indianapolis, IN asked in Car Accidents and Personal Injury for Indiana

Q: My 17 yr old was in an accident, Can the parent be sued if the policy is not enough to cover medical bills?

My 17 yr old was involved in a car accident, she was found at fault for failing to yield on a left turn, the other driver was speeding and had no seat belt on and was severely injured. My policy limits will probably not cover the cost of his bodily injury. What happens in a case like this? Can I be sued since I'm the policy holder? If the insurance company is not able to settle with the driver of the other vehicle?

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: Technically, yes. Practically, no. Remember this and increase your coverage in case you or a loved one is injured by an uninsured driver or someone with minimum coverage.

The injured party absolutely can sue you and your child. Here's the problem. Your insurance company is willing to surrender the policy limits now which means that the injured party will receive your policy limits, minus his attorney's fee and costs. The injured party cannot take that money unless they execute a full release. AND THEY CANNOT GO TO TRIAL AGAINST YOU UNLESS THEY REFUSE TO TAKE THE MONEY FROM THE INSURANCE. More importantly, no attorney will represent them because the attorney would have no way to get paid.

If the injured party refuses to settle for the policy limits and spends all the time, money, and resources to go to trial so they can secure a big judgment, they must pay for their attorney, they must pay for their experts, and they must pay for all other costs incurred, upfront. Once they get the big verdict, you will spend $1200-$1500 to file Bankruptcy and their verdict won't be worth the paper it's printed on. If they do not want to file Bankruptcy, they will receive a relatively small check, each month, which represents 25% of your disposable income after payment of essentials (e.g. Mortgage, car note, insurance, utilities, food, commuting expense, etc.) Suing an uninsured person is a lose-lose proposition.

Being dramatically underinsured guarantees a situation where nobody wins. Don't buy minimum coverage and don't buy substandard insurance (which only sells minimum coverage). If you can't afford adequate insurance, you can't afford to drive.

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