What should I do if I’m sued by the drunk driver and the passenger that hit the vehicle I was driving? 20 Answers as of November 22, 2012

The driver was cited at the scene (by the highway patrol) for the cause of the accident, DUI, and Driving with a suspended license 3rd degree. I was just served papers the other day stating that the driver, or a passenger (who was also intoxicated), is suing me for every condition they could think of. What lawyer in their right mind would accept this case, when the driver of that very vehicle (which was either the husband or brother due to same last names) was cited with a DUI? Seems she should be suing him. The vehicle I was driving was a friend’s (who was also in the car), so the insurance company that handled the damages was his, not mine. Would it be worthwhile to call his insurance company and inform them, or because I was not the owner of the vehicle, would they not represent me?

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Lapin Law Offices
Lapin Law Offices | Jeffrey Lapin
You should call the insurance company that insures the vehicle you were driving immediately and notify them they you have been sued. Unless you are somehow excluded from coverage under the policy, which I cannot answer completely but it is unlikely if you had permission to drive the vehicle, then the insurance company will hire an attorney to represent you. In addition, the insurance company will also pay, up to its Bodily Injury Coverage limits any damages the people suing you are entitled to. If you have your own car insurance policy you might want to notify that company as well. A vehicle's car insurance is always primary; your personal policy would be secondary. If you are not covered by the vehicle you were driving policy then your own car insurance would hire an attorney for you and pay up to its limits. As to why you are being sued I cannot answer without more information about the accident. Simply because the other driver was intoxicated and ticketed for driving on a suspended license does not automatically mean that the driver was at-fault for the accident. For example, if the vehicle was sitting waiting at a red light and you rear-ended the vehicle, then you would be at fault and the fact that the driver was intoxicated or had a suspended license would not be relevant to whose fault the accident was. However, under different facts the other driver's intoxication could make a difference. The other driver's passenger could, depending on the facts of the accident, could sue both you and her own driver.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 11/22/2012
Victor Varga | Victor Varga
Counter-sue him.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 11/7/2012
John Russo | John Russo
First the suspended license is not an issue has nothing to do with the accident, don't say well they should not have been on the road, guess what, they were. Also it would help if you knew who was the moving party here, the driver, or passenger? Not enough details, you allege that the driver was determined as the person who was 100% at fault in the accident, if that is the case there is no issue as to the drivers fault, the passenger is a different story, what does their being drunk have to do with the accident? There is a case out there that many jurisdictions follow when confronted with a per se negligence argument since one of the drivers was drunk at the time of the accident, and this is factual, it happened. Driver was about a 4.5 on the rector scale driving the wrong way on a one way highway when a single engine plane tried to make an emergency landing on the road and hit the vehicle the pilot was killed the driver stumbled away without a scratch. The State charged the driver with vehicular homicide, and negligence per se because of how drunk they were, GUESS WHAT HAPPENED, if you said the charges were dismissed by the court, and it withstood appeal you WIN!!! In almost every case a DUI is the kiss of death, but no matter what there still must be a finding that they were the actual cause of the accident, and that is fact determinative, the plane was at fault because chances are they would have hit a sober person in the same circumstances. So your friends insurance company should be the one involved here, liability insurance insures things not people, so you should be covered under their policy, the passenger can go after everybody in this case, the car they were in, you, the owner, their insurance etc. They may be just throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks, if your fact pattern is correct I would not be to concerned, but your friends insurance company should be involved if you had permission to drive the vehicle, look at it this way, you know all of those wonderful commercials you see on TV about FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS DRIVE DRUNK, then if every person who tried to do the right thing, and take the keys, and drive their pal home, would be open to all kinds of liability if they ended up in an accident, then no one would want to do it, and since the insurance industry pays for these little adds it would seem to be counter to their argument to help out. Talk to your friend, contact their carrier they should have to cover this if there is any liability. P.S. what could be going on here is that your friends insurance company has already denied liability, so the passenger is taking a shot, and going after you, so do NOT , not answer that complaint within the allotted time indicated, and don't say there is no time frame there is if it is a true complaint, it will say you have 20days to answer, do that answer it, don't put it in your draw and forget about it, because you will be defaulted and that is a whole other nightmare, ANSWER THE COMPLAINT!
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 11/6/2012
The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
The Lucky Law Firm, PLC | Robert Morrison Lucky
You need to call your automobile insurance as soon as possible and advise that you have been sued. Your insurance company, as well as the insurance company of the vehicle you were driving, will provide an attorney to represent you in the lawsuit.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 11/6/2012
Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
Turn the papers over to your auto insurance company; they'll take care of it. If you were also hurt, contact a lawyer yourself, and file a counter suit.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/6/2012
    Graves Law Firm
    Graves Law Firm | Steve Graves
    You'd better call the insurance company that had the coverage on the car you were driving, ASAP.? The passenger might have sued the other driver as well as you, so as to make sure there could be no absent driver to blame. The insurance company should hire a lawyer to defend you, but if you want to counter-sue for your own injuries you'll need a lawyer of your own.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Law Office of Edmund P. Allen Jr. | Edmund P. Allen Jr.
    You should just pass the paperwork on to your insurance company, and they should handle it for you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Richard E. Damon, PC | Richard E. Damon
    If you drive someone else's car with their permission, their insurance company will defend you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Law Offices of Mark West
    Law Offices of Mark West | Mark West
    Send a copy of the documents you were served immediately to the insurance carrier covering the car and also your own insurance and put them on notice. One of them will provide you a defense (a lawyer who will represent you in this claim). I am assuming this is not a small claims action. There is a limited amount of time within which to ask so you should act immediately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Tenge Law Firm, LLC
    Tenge Law Firm, LLC | J. Todd Tenge
    The best bet is for you to tender this whole mess to your insurance company. They will handle it for you.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Just turn the paperwork over to your own insurance company and let them handle it. Like the old Greyhound commercial: leave the driving to them.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Tomalas Law Firm
    Tomalas Law Firm | Ryan Tomalas
    In this situation, it would be wise to forward copies of the documents that were served on you to both your automobile insurance company and the automobile insurance company covering the vehicle. They should handle the claims being made against you and should raise all possible defenses in hopes of protecting you from any liability.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Frank Law Group, P.C.
    Frank Law Group, P.C. | Brett E. Rosenthal
    Insurance coverage follows the vehicle and as result your friend's carrier, who insured the vehicle, as long as you are driving with your friend's permission you are an insured and if you are being sued as a result of your operation of the vehicle your friend's carrier is obligated to provide you a defense. If there is a traffic collision report which outlines who caused the accident, much less that driver of other vehicle, who apparently is suing you, hard to believe that is claim they will pursue for very long. Would contact your friend's carrier and tender or submit the suit for them to designate counsel to defend you. Under those circumstances, if you are injured at all would pursue your personal injuries against the intoxicated at fault party.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    you are covered if you drove with permission. Your friends insurance company should be fully informed. No lawyer will take a drunk driver into court and ask for damages(maybe unless the lawyer himself is drunk)
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    WEISSMAN LAW FIRM | I.Donald Weissman
    When driving someone's car, with permissions, the owner of the car, by law in California is responsible for the first $25,000/$30,000/$5,000 in damages. Then the responsibility shifts to the driver. Turn the suit papers over to your friend's carrier and your own carrier, too.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    The validity of the claim isn't based simply on whether the other person was drunk; the question is who is at fault for the accident. The owners' insurance will defend you. You must notify them immediately to do so or they will have the right to deny coverage later. If you don't defend you will lose the case and have a judgment against you.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 11/6/2012
    Beaver Holt Sternlicht and Courie, P.A.
    Beaver Holt Sternlicht and Courie, P.A. | Mark A. Sternlicht
    You should contact the insurance company for the car that you were driving. Under the usual circumstances, the company will provide coverage for you.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 11/6/2012
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