Claiming pain and suffering after a minor fender bender accident?
(Los Angeles, CA)
My wife was in a car accident. She was moving at normal speed and had the green light when another car who had a red stop light moved forward into the intersection, causing my wife to slow down in time to avoid any damage. Just the front license plates were scratched up.
They pulled to the side of the road and the other driver was a lady test driving a car with a male companion and the salesperson.
In my wife's car was my 2 year old son and mother-in-law. My wife gave them her driver's license info and they took her copy of our insurance. They told her that since nothing happened and no one was injured that she can just continue her business and they left. She called me to tell me what happened and I found it strange they did not provide any info back to my wife.
I went to see my wife afterwards and she told me they went to the KIA dealer 2 blocks up. We went there and she pointed the party out. I asked the lady if we could also get her driver's license and insurance.
She refused stating that since it wasn't her car, I should talk to the dealer. I told her that since she was the driver, she needed to provide basic info.
After a minute or two trying to get this basic info, her male friend jumped in stating how this is ridiculous and absurd and their only concern was that my son was okay. I told him I'm not asking for anything out of the norm and that I was asking so I could just report the incident to my insurance. Well, he became more upset.
I told him if it makes them feel better, I can call the police and have them settle the matter. That's when he really got upset and starting throwing threats of getting an attorney. I did finally manage to get the basic info and they just left the dealership.
I spoke to the salesperson and the manager and they even informed me that there was no damage to their vehicle and they did not plan to pursue any action against us (which they didn't).
The lady and the male did get an attorney and try to get physical damages from my insurance company, but my insurance denied their request. Now 10 days prior to the 2 year limit to sue, I received a summons and of course they state it was my wife's fault. I contacted my insurance company and they will answer it but the suit is for more than my coverage (over $50k).
I'm not sure what to do. What upsets me is that they are doing it for personal gain. My two year old was in the car and he did not suffer any physical pains and was playing that same day as if nothing happened.
These people claim they have unbearable pain and suffering. Probably more from financial suffering than physical and find this as a way to make money by suing someone just because.
The car salesperson did not file a claim for injury nor did the dealership for car damages. It sounds more like their word against ours since the only witnesses were the people in both cars and myself (after the fact). Not sure what my options are for making this go away or how far insurance companies will go to protect their insured.
What can I do to protect myself from this lawsuit? Should I get an attorney? How can people sue for no reason? Thanks for any info you can give.
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ANSWER for "Claiming pain and suffering after a minor fender bender accident?":
Carlos (Los Angeles, CA):
You probably don't need to hire an attorney yourself. That's why you pay insurance premiums. In cases of car accidents and resulting lawsuits, most, if not all car insurance companies are obligated to provide their insured with an attorney. And to do so at no additional cost to the insured.
Your insurance company has apparently already denied their claim for physical damages to the car. You can be quite sure if the claim for physical damages to the car was denied, your insurance company won't agree to settle their claim for personal injuries - even in the face of a lawsuit.
You should have nothing to worry about. A lawsuit for fifty thousand dollars seems absurd in the face of little or no damage to either car. Place the matter in the hands of your insurance company and let them handle it. Although it's difficult, try and not take the matter personally. Instead treat it as a business matter.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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