If you had been drinking alcohol at the time of your car accident you may find the whole situation incredibly stressful. If you have pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, or you have been convicted of these things, anyone who sustained injuries in the accident is likely to file a lawsuit against you.
Lawsuits can be quite confusing and complaint, especially if you don’t have very much knowledge of how they work. A lawsuit can be filed within days of the car accident and it may come as a surprise to you. In some parts of the United States as a lawsuit can be filed up to 5 years after the car accident.
If you are taken to court because it’s believed that you caused an accident you may want to know what you should expect. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to expect:
When you’re Served with Notice
A lawsuit starts when the injured party files a complaint or petition in court. Once the plaintiff (The injured party) files the lawsuit the defendant (You) will be notified of the court case.
Most states ask that you are served with the notice or the copy of the complaint and the lawsuit. Typically, a process server or a sheriff’s deputy will serve the documents within about 30 days from the day the lawsuit was filed. Some states allow the notice to be served up to 3 or 6 months after the lawsuit has been filed. On some occasions, an extension may be allowed if the defendant cannot be served or found.
If you have received a summons you will need to act immediately. You will need to file a response document (Also known as an ‘Answer’), and you should do so before the court’s deadline. If you are as much as 1 day late responding to the summons the court may enter a judgment, and it could be a default judgment that means the plaintiff wins the case.
What you must do is get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can, preferably on the same day as you were served. The good news is that most insurance companies have a specific telephone line that is staffed all day every day so people can let them know about the receipt of the summons.
Being Defended in Court
Most car insurance policies that include liability as part of the service ensures that your insurance company defends you if you are taken to court. However, this is only the case if the specific occurrences surrounding the car accident are covered in the insurance policy. Your insurance company will hire an attorney who has experience in dealing with a DWI or DUI case. It’s always a good idea to speak to a different attorney about your case, even though your insurance company has found one for you. This is because the plaintiff may ask for punitive damages along with compensatory damages. This potentially means that if the court decided to award the plaintiff with punitive damages you will have to pay for those out of your own money.
If you do not Have Car Insurance
Even though car insurance is required in all parts of the United States, some people do not have car insurance. If you do not have car insurance you will need to get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can.
Read our article about ‘Uninsured Motorist Insurance’ if you don’t think the other driver was insured.
How Long will the Lawsuit Take?
Some lawsuits can be resolved in a matter of months, whereas other lawsuits can take more than a few years. While most car accident claims tend to settle in court there is no guarantee that your case will come to a resolution especially if you were driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated.
Automatically at Fault
In some cases, if you were found to be driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated you could be found automatically at fault. However, even though you were convicted of a DWI or a DUI, it does not mean that you are at fault. This is because the other driver may have been at fault. This may be the case if they were speeding or they ran a stop sign.
Read our article about ‘Proving Fault for a Car Accident by Using Traffic Laws‘ for more information.
If you are currently suffering from a personal injury and are unable to read ‘Had a DUI-Related Accident & Facing a Lawsuit?’ please watch our Injury Pedia video so you can gain the Personal Injury Information and Answers you are seeking.