Why am I being sued and not my insurance company?

Question:  I just got served with court papers for a car accident.  Shouldn’t they be suing my insurance company instead of me?  The person I hit hired a lawyer and made a claim with my insurance company for an injury.  However, I got served with the court papers.

Robert’s Answer:  Since you were the person actually involved in the accident, Texas law requires that you be named in the lawsuit.  Here’s why….

When someone else makes a liability claim under your own insurance policy, this is called a third-party claim.  It’s a “third-party” claim because the claimant is an outsider to your insurance policy.  Your insurance company has a duty to defend you against this claim and to pay off any judgment which might be entered against you.  Therefore, your insurance company takes full control over the settlement or defense of the claim.

If you are the at-fault driver in an auto accident, the injured party is (technically) making the claim against you.  But the claim goes through your auto insurance since they have total control over the claim.  If the insurance company is unable to settle the claim, then Texas law says that the lawsuit must be filed against the driver personally.

In Texas, there is no “direct action” in a third-party liability claim.  A direct action means that a lawsuit arising from an accident may be filed directly against the insurance company rather than the policy holder.  Some states allow direct actions in third-party claims.  But Texas does not.  Therefore, the lawsuit must be filed against the actual person involved in the accident.

If you are served with court papers, you need to inform your insurance company about the lawsuit and forward the papers to them immediately.  Your insurance company will then hire an attorney to defend you in the case.

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