Are you being served? I was.

My son was in an auto accident about 2 years ago. He was (is) insured. Flash forward to last night. I got home from work to find 2 summons, one for my son and one of my very own (my name was on the title). The passengers in the other vehicle are suing us. The summons, BTW, is poorly done. It identifies me by wrong gender throughout and misspells my son’s name once. :rolleyes:

The perts are:
-My son was 20 at the time
-He was living on his own at the time, and had been for over a year
-The car was one he drove all the time, we just never changed the title to his name (we got it when he was under 18, so he couldn’t be on the title then)
-He had insurance in his name on the car. I am not on his insurance.
-The insco had just sent a letter warning of the possible suit and giving a number to call so they could arrange representation

Never having been involved in anything like this before I thought I’d ask, IYHO, how is this most likely to play out?
Will the lawyer his insurance company retains represent me on this suit as well?
Can I get my name removed from the suit?

I’m hoping it’s just “hardball” between a lawyer and the insco that will drag out for a bit and end in a settlement. My son is pretty lawsuit proof, he owns nothing, rents a room and barely makes enough to get by. I am by no means rich, but am a bit nervous. Treading new territory, doncha know.

You were named in the suit because you are the titled owner of the car. There will be, at least initially, an allegation of ‘negligent entrustment’ against you. Basically, you were a dipshit for giving your crazy, reckless, no-good drunkard of a son access to a motor vehicle and are, therefor, partly to blame for the accident. Unless that is actually a reasonably true assessment of the facts, you’ll probably be removed in a couple months.

Yes, the attorney assigned by his insurance company will (almost certainly) represent you. NEVERTHELESS, contact your own insurance company and get them a copy of the suit paperwork. Their job is to defend and indemnify you to the extent you are liable for the accident, and they need as much notice as possible so they can evaluate the case and decide what they can do for you. Once you’re removed from the suit, they will bow out of the picture as well. There may be a bump because your son likely does not meet the definition of an insured under your policy (does not reside with you) and the car MAY not meet the definition of an insured car because it’s not newly acquired by you, it’s not a temporary replacement, and you weren’t driving it. However, you ARE a titled owner, so defense, at least, might be triggered. Nevertheless, you likely qualify for defense under your son’s policy.

Sometimes litigation is a hardball play, sometimes it is the result of a genuine impasse reached during settlement negotiations. Other times, a suit is filed to stave off the statute of limitations(SOL) extinguishing the injured party’s claim and means nothing overall. Depending on the jurisdiction the SOL could be between 2-5 years.

As long as the insurance company is providing your defense, they will absorb the cost of the defense–attorney, court fees, expert fees, etc. Pretty much all the boy has to do is attend the deposition & the trial if it gets that far.

And language in Summons & Complaints is the best. They read like a campy novel and often contain typos. You’d expect better from someone as educated as a lawyer.

If I was in your shoes I’d probably consult a lawyer not (at least initially) with the intent to represent me but to provide legal advice. Basically, you’d be paying a lawyer to review the facts and tell you what your options and obligations are. That’s not thousands of dollars, you’re mostly just meeting for an hour. Get a local guy/gal who will be familiar with the laws in the applicable jurisdiction. In my admittedly limited experience that would be $150-200 in most instances but it can keep you out of trouble and save you money and aggravation down the line.

Usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I’m certainly not your lawyer.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought you had to be served face to face, not just come home to find a summons.

Thanks for the answers so far, I’m hoping this turns out to be much ado about nothing.

My wife was home and accepted the service for both. I might could push back since my son doesn’t live there anymore, but that would just delay the inevitable.

I know in Massachusetts, if the person being served isn’t home, the sheriff can leave the summons at the front door. You can fight it as improper service, but you have to be able to prove that either (a) that’s no longer your address or (b) no one was in residence for the entire 3 weeks between date of service and default judgement. Or at least that’s what an attorney told me when I found a summons that had been sitting in my front door for a week - we rarely use that door.

Yeah service sounds iffy, but if you push back in the real world then fine–you’ll eventually get served properly. At work, in a restaurant, at the cub scout meeting, in church… As long as the suit was filed before the SOL expired the claim, they have quite a lot of time to serve it. And if the plaintiff starts to run up against a service deadline, they just explain to the court why they need an extension to service and they get it. The game is on when the suit is filed. Just play.

When it comes to personal injury law, the plaintiffs normally sue everyone, then let the court sort them out…the more lines you put out, the more likely you are to catch a fish! They are probably hoping that you have an umbrella liability policy that might be willing to cough up a few bucks to make the nuisance go away.

Usually true, but depends if your statute of limitations is running out. Anyway, as others have said, notify every insurance company that might have a duty to defend you. Unless the injuries are catastrophic, a case can be resolved at or below what the insurance policy limits are and your personal assets are safe. Once things are up and running, it is a good idea to tell the lawyer hired by the insurance company (but representing you) that you want the case resolved in a way to protect your personal assets. It’s one of their main duties to you, and they can’t (generally) roll the dice on the chance of a verdict in excess of the policy limits.

My son talked to the insco. The suit was filed, as The Great Sun Jester surmised, because the statute of limitations is nearing (2 years in GA). The insco has already settled with the driver, but the passengers fired that attorney and hired this one who likely filed suit to keep his options open. The insco also noted that their first job would be to get my name removed from the suit. Failing that, they will represent me as well. My son said the insco was not worried in the least - for themselves or either of us.

Apparently, the summons is not the only paperwork this lawyer does poorly. The insco said that every request for documentation since his hiring has been ignored or returned with shoddy results.

Now we wait. Thanks, all, for the input! Turned out to be spot on.

Be aware that, if the insurance company represents you, it may NOT represent your BEST interest.

It may decide to agree that you were at fault, just to pay a few bucks and be done.

Now you are stuck with the record.

IIRC, the fine print on the policy states something to the effect: “if you get sued, we WILL represent you. You will not have any other representation, and we can negotiate as we please, with or without your consent”.

Grab your policy, your son’s policy, and see a lawyer.

I’m guessing your son was written up by the police as the cause of the accident, which is why they are suing you vs. his insurance suing them.

I don’t know where so many people got the impression that all service must be personal. IANAL, but have been to court a few times. IIRC, personal service (being handed the Summons by a live person) is required only in a very few specific types of cases.
On the other side: if, after reasonable attempt to locate the party, you come up blank:
You may satisfy the Notice requirement by:
Letter to defendant at last known address.
Service by Publication - this is the good one. If you ever read the “legal paper” of your town, you would have seen ads reading: NOTICE to John Doe: You are being sued. Municipal Court, Case 107-2864, Joe v Doe…

Doe just got served. Compared to that, finding the papers slid under your door is a blessing - at least you know that you are being sued and how to prevent a default judgement.

Unless you are damned certain that the case REQUIRES personal service in your jurisdiction, NEVER hide from a server or try to duck service - they only need to make the effort, not guarantee you benefited from it.

This is the case in MA. My sister recently had a warrant put out on her for failing to appear for a summons. I stopped by my fathers property that has not been lived on in over ten years and has no habitable structures to find the sheriff had put the summons in the mailbox there(all the actual mail is forwarded to my PO box.)

We had the case dismissed because it was filed in the wrong district and it was unreasonable to expect my sister appear in a court two counties away. The state had required she move to her current local as part of a parole agreement so it was particularly inept for them to be issuing summons to a vacant lot when they knew exactly where to find her.

The company suing her has yet to refile in the correct venue, that was six months ago.

This really is a ‘manna from heaven’ scenario because it creates the perfect condition for the insured to win a slam-dunk, high value bad faith suit against the insurance company in question. It is therefore an extraordinarily rare, but not unheard of, situation. You don’t release my insured, I don’t write you a check. Period.