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What should my sister do if she is uninsured and caused a car accident?

Asked by user in California.

My sister got into a car accident. She caused a domino effect with 2 other cars. Her car was uninsured. Now she has to pay out of her own pocket. She doesn't have that type of money.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

I’m sorry this happened to your sister.

California is an at-fault insurance state, which means the party responsible for the accident is responsible for paying any damages. Accordingly, if your sister caused the accident, she is responsible for paying any damages caused by the accident.

Because your sister was uninsured at the time of the accident, the injured parties have the right to sue her personally to recover their damages. If they choose to do this, your sister will receive a summons and complaint. The summons and complaint will explain that she is being sued and it will provide instructions with how to respond.

Assuming the other parties can prove fault, the court will issue a judgment against your sister (unless she negotiates a settlement before then). If she can’t pay the judgment, the other parties can get a court order to automatically withdraw a certain percentage of your sister’s future wages.

In situations like this, I generally recommend working with the other parties to negotiate a settlement and set up a payment plan. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are generally very receptive to setting up reasonable payment plans.

You might also advise her to reach out to the California State Bar to inquire about free legal help.

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