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What Happens if YOU Are Sued After Causing a Collision in Brooklyn, NY?

Posted in Car Accidents on May 25, 2021

What Happens if YOU Are Sued After Causing a Collision in Brooklyn, NY?

Thousands of car accidents occur in New York each year. Being involved in a collision in Brooklyn can be stressful. Even if you are not injured, dealing with the consequences of the car accident can be frustrating and overwhelming.

If you were not seriously injured, you may go on with your life and not give another thought to the car accident. However, a year or more after the collision, you are served with a lawsuit. The other person involved in the car crash is suing YOU for damages.

What should you do?

Call Your Car Insurance Provider and a Car Accident Attorney

Try to remain calm. A lawsuit is not a judgment. The person filing the lawsuit must prove that you were at fault for the cause of the car wreck before you can be held financially liable for damages.

The first thing you should do is notify your car insurance company. All New York drivers are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance for car accidents.

 Auto liability insurance coverage required by New York law includes:

  • $10,000 in property damage coverage per accident
  • $25,000 in bodily injury coverage and $50,000 in death coverage for one person involved in an accident
  • $50,000 in bodily injury coverage and $100,000 in death coverage for two or more people involved in an accident

Most insurance companies retain legal counsel to respond to and defend the lawsuit. However, you have the right to consult with an attorney you choose regarding your legal rights. It is wise to speak with a car accident attorney to ensure you understand your legal rights and the potential outcomes that you could face.

How Long Does Someone Have to File a Lawsuit for a Car Accident in New York?

The statute of limitations (deadline) for filing a car accident in Brooklyn, New York, is generally three years from the date of the accident. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as in cases involving minors or government entities.

Therefore, in most cases, the person you hit with your vehicle has up to three years from the accident date to sue you. In other words, you could be served with a lawsuit long after the car accident occurred.

There could be reasons why the person waited so long to file a lawsuit. The victim may have sustained injuries that required a long period of treatment and recovery. Your insurance company and the victim may have engaged in settlement negotiations for a long time before the victim gave up and filed the personal injury lawsuit.

If the statute of limitations has expired, the lawyer for the insurance company will file a motion to dismiss with the court. The court will dismiss the lawsuit unless there is an exception that extends the deadline for filing the lawsuit.

Timeline of a Car Accident Lawsuit

Each lawsuit is different. However, specific steps occur during each lawsuit.

The general phases of a lawsuit include:

  • Pleadings (i.e., complaint, answer, counterclaim, third-party complaint, etc.)
  • Discovery phase
  • Settlement negotiations and mediation
  • Pre-trial motions and conference hearings
  • Trial
  • Jury verdict
  • Appeals

It can take more than a year for the court to schedule a trial. There are deadlines for filing pleadings, but the court generally extends the deadlines if a party files a request for extension. Many factors, including a court’s schedule, can impact how long it takes to settle a car accident case.

If either party is unhappy with the outcome of the trial, they may file appeals. Appeals could take years to complete, depending on the case.

Defenses to a Car Accident Lawsuit

There may be several defenses you can raise if you are sued because of a car accident. Your lawyer may attack the evidence and argue it is insufficient to prove the legal elements of negligence.

Your attorney may argue that the plaintiff was partially at fault for the cause of the car crash. Under New York’s contributory negligence laws, a plaintiff’s damages can be reduced if the plaintiff is partially responsible for the accident. The compensation is reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.

What Happens if the Jury Awards a Verdict to the Plaintiff?

If the jury awards the plaintiff a judgment, you are responsible for the payment of the judgment. Your insurance company is only responsible for paying the judgment up to the policy limits. Therefore, any money remaining over the policy limits is your personal liability.

For that reason, it is wise to carry insurance limits that are higher than the minimum limits if you can afford to do so. It is also wise to obtain legal advice from an attorney you trust instead of relying solely on the advice of the attorney hired by your insurance company.