If you're involved in a wreck that injures another party, you'll probably be on the hook to pay damages, says John Higdon, an insurance broker with HSHC Insurance Inc. in St. Louis. Your insurance may kick in but with minimum coverage, and you could exhaust its limits.
Moderate-to-severe auto accidents can easily reach costs of $100,000 or more, depending on the number of vehicles involved, number of people injured and the severity of those injuries, Higdon says. This far surpasses policies with limits of around the 25/50/10 coverage, he says.
If your insurance doesn't pay out the total amount you owe, the injured party can pursue damages against you until the debt is paid, says Gary Massey Jr., an attorney in Chattanooga, Tenn.
As the at-fault party, you may have to pay to defend yourself, and you also could be forced to liquidate your assets, including your home, cars and some bank accounts to satisfy the debt, Massey says. In addition, your wages could be garnished.