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What to expect, what to do and not to do, if you have been sued

March 10, 2011

Cesar A. Noble, Esq.

We welcome our guest blogger Attorney Cesar A. Noble, a partner in Noble, Spector & O’Connor located in Hartford, Connecticut.  He represents both defendants and plaintiffs involved in accidents.

The reason we buy insurance is to protect ourselves in case we have an accident or someone files a claim against us. What happens if either occurs?

The first thing that you should do is to make sure that your insurance company is notified of the loss. One of many benefits an insurance agent can provide you is to assist you in making sure that your insurer is notified of the claim. If you prefer you can notify them yourself through contact information provided in your auto insurance ID card or in other documents provided you by your company. Regardless of how you do so it is vital that you quickly notify them as every policy contains the requirement that the insurance company be notified of the claim, loss or accident as soon as possible. This is important to them because it permits them to investigate the claim as soon as possible.

As a lawyer who represents, among others, people who get sued I strongly recommend that you do not speak to anyone regarding the accident or loss other than your agent, insurer or any one they indicate you can speak with. All insurance policies require that you cooperate with the company and as such it is important to give them accurate information regarding the loss. However, it is not uncommon for an attorney for the plaintiff, the person who may sue you, to send their own investigator to speak with or obtain statements from people they intend to sue. You can be sure that the investigator will slant any statement or communication with you in a way that benefits the potential plaintiff so I strongly recommend you decline to speak with them.

What if you get sued? You will know if this happens because a marshal will either hand deliver a Summons and Complaint to you or leave one at your home. Again, it is vital that you let your insurer know that you have been sued as soon as possible. Notify your agent or your insurance company immediately. There are important deadlines that stem from the lawsuit that the insurance company, not you, needs to make sure are complied with and they can only do so if they have the Summons and Complaint.

Now that you have been sued your insurance company is required to provide you with an attorney to defend you if the complaint alleges claims that are covered by the policy. This means that the insurer will pay for the attorney and any of his or her expenses at no cost to you. The attorney who the insurer hires to represent and protect you is NOT the insurance company’s attorney, he or she is YOUR attorney. They are ethically bound to make sure that they protect your interests and any potential conflict of interest between you and the insurance company has to be resolved in your favor. In turn, your responsibilities to the attorney, generally but not always, involve only four things. The first is to meet with or talk to them about the accident. The second is to help them answer written questions that are called Interrogatories that you have to answer under oath regarding the accident. They can often prepare most of the responses for you. The third area is if the plaintiff’s attorney wants to take your deposition. This is just a procedure in which the attorney, with your attorney present to protect you, asks you questions about the accident. Finally, if the case doesn’t get settled before trial (and over 90% of the cases do get settled) you will have to go to court for the trial of the case.

While everything involved in having a claim or a lawsuit filed against you may be a frightening and strange experience your insurance agent and ultimately your attorney are the people you should look to for information to help make the unknown understandable.

Attorney Noble can be reached at:

Noble, Spector & O’Connor

One Congress Street, Hartford CT 06114

P: 860-525-9975  E noble@nsyolaw.com

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