Driver claiming injury after minor rear end collision?
by Unlucky Guy
(Millbrae, California, United States)
I got into an accident on the highway one day. There was a highway entrance ahead, so the entrance lane merged with the right lane. Due to two lanes merging into one, many cars on the right were slowing down. I kept a good distance from the car in front of me, but the car stopped short.
I couldn't stop my car in time, so I bumped the car. The car that I bumped into did not hit any cars in front of him. My car's bumper and hood were damaged. The car I bumped into just had a minor crack and scratch on the rear right bumper corner. I was by myself, and there were 4-5 passengers inside the other car. I asked them if they were alright, and they said yes.
Everyone was out of the car, walking around looking at the damage. So, we exchanged insurance information and drivers license info, and then just drove away. We both have limited liability coverage. We did not make a police report because no one was injured.
I filed an accident form and told my insurance about the accident. The person that I got into the accident with hired an attorney and a week later demanded money for injuries. I got the call from my insurance, who notified me they only cover up to certain amount, and the other driver is demanding more. My insurance told me that if the payment really goes up to the limit, I will have to pay them out of my pocket.
I am a full time student and work full time. I am not sure if the person just made things up so they can get more money from my insurance company, or if it is real. I was thinking maybe they just made the number up, because they see this as a golden opportunity to get free money.
My questions are:
-How can I find out if they are telling the truth or just making things up so they can get money?
-If the medical bills are really over my coverage limit, do I really have to pay it all no matter what?
- If I find out they're lying, can I file a lawsuit against them for pulling a scam / fraud?
I am not a person who likes to take advantage of others, and I also don't like people try to take advantage of me. I really appreciate any information you can give. Thank you so much.
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ANSWER for "Driver claiming injury after minor rear end collision?":
Unlucky Guy (Millbrae, California, United States)
Let's answer your questions one at a time...
How can I find out if they are telling the truth or just making things up so they can get money?
The only way you will be able to tell if the claimant is telling the truth is if your insurance company tells you they believe the purported victim is not telling the truth, or if your insurance company decides not to settle the claim and it goes to trial.
If your claim goes to trial you will not have to retain an attorney. Your insurance company is obligated by your insurance policy to provide to you an attorney at no cost to defend you in trial.
During the trial, your attorney will have a chance to cross examine the claimant (Plaintiff) in an effort to tell if he or she is fabricating injuries. If your attorney is successful in doing so, a jury will likely agree and not award the claimant any money.
If the medical bills are really over my coverage limit, do I really have to pay it all no matter what?
If your insurance company decides to settle the claim and they do so by "tendering policy limits," meaning they pay up to and including the amount of insurance you purchased, and the claimant is requesting more money on top of that, then you may be responsible to pay that amount. It depends upon whether or not the claimant decides to file a lawsuit against you.
If so, the claimant may have a chance to secure from you additional money, but only if a jury believes the victim's injuries were above and beyond the amount your insurance company has already paid.
You can be comfortable knowing it is very unlikely you will be sued in the event your insurance company tenders policy limits. Unless you have substantial assets upon which the claimant’s attorney can levy, it is very likely you will not be sued.
If I find out they're lying, can I file a lawsuit against them for pulling a scam / fraud?
Whether or not the claimant is determined to be "lying" is more a subjective than objective decision. In other words, if the insurance company decides not to believe the claimant, they're not necessarily basing their decision not to award the money based on their belief the claimant lied, but rather on the severity of the injuries asserted by the claimant.
Moreover, if the claim were to go to trial and the jury decides the injuries are on-existent, feigned or exaggerated, the jury’s decision not to award money will also be subjective.
The only true way to classify the claimant's claims of injury is if the judge believes the claimant perjured himself or herself. If so, then the claimant will be indicted and convicted of perjury. Then you would have a strong basis upon which to sue.
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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