We typically only help people who were injured in car accident cases, so I’m going to start out with the caveat that we can’t help you find an attorney to defend you and what I’m saying is general advice.
Now that I have the geeky lawyer disclaimer stuff out of the way …
If you get in to a car accident and are at fault (usually known because you get a ticket) or someone else thinks you are at fault, they or their insurance company typically has two years to sue you for personal injury and five years for property damage with some exceptions.
You might get in to an accident and not hear anything on the case for almost two years. Then suddenly a sheriff will appear at your door and serve you with a summons that says you are being sued. It might make you freak out, especially if you’ve never, like most people, been involved in a lawsuit before.
So what should you do?
If you had insurance on the day of the accident, you should call them ASAP and let them know about the lawsuit. It doesn’t matter if you are no longer with that insurance company. If they covered you on the day of the accident, they cover you for the lawsuit.
For 99% of insured people the next thing to do will be just wait. Usually the case resolves itself between the lawyers. You don’t have to hire your own lawyer, the insurance company will provide one for you. They may not be as accessible as you’d prefer, but they will be there for your deposition if that happens and anything else big that comes up.
If you don’t carry a lot of insurance and/or you badly injured someone, you might want to get your own lawyer in case the claim goes above your policy limits. That said, in most cases we see, the policy limits are usually it and they won’t go after your personal assets. No guarantee of that of course.
If you didn’t have insurance on the day of the accident, you are on the hook for everything and may have your license suspended if you don’t pay. That includes having to pay a lawyer by the hour to defend you which can be cost prohibitive if you lose and of course any judgment or settlement against you. So the moral of the story is that if you don’t have insurance, you better get some. And remember, if you are driving someone else’s car, you are probably not covered under their policy or your own.