Driver's insurance refuses to pay?

by Leena
(New Hyde Park, NY)

I was involved in a three car crash. My car was waiting at a red light. When it turned green the lady behind me hit my car. The lady claimed the car behind her hit her so hard that she went forward and hit me. The lady was told by the guy behind to pull over to the right and then he sped away.

The lady and I both pulled over and called police. The police report was filed that the guy hit her and she hit my car. I contacted my insurance and her insurance to repair my car. The lady's insurance has come back and refused to pay the claim for damages to my car, saying the lady is innocent as well.

Is this legal?

The guy that hit her and sped away caused the lady to hit into me hard. The damages on my car are more evident since her car was a much bigger car. I am sure this lady filed a hit and run report for her claim.

Her insurance refuses to pay my claim, but the lady hit my car from behind. Therefore isn't she liable for the damages to my car? Is there any other way to pursue compensation for the damages? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Driver's insurance refuses to pay?":

Leena (New Hyde Park, NY):

You ask about the "legality" of the insurance company's refusal to pay. There is no law in New York requiring an insurance company to pay a claim. Instead, the decision to pay a claim is entirely up to the insurance company.

However, from the facts you present, the driver following behind you should be liable for the entire amount of your claim.

Here's why...

New York Revised Statutes Section 1129(a) states in part, "The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway."

You have a solid argument the driver behind you was following too closely, in violation of New York Revised Statute Section 1129(a). The driver's duty to stay far enough behind you is the basis of your claim. You can argue if the driver had been following at a safe distance, he wouldn't have struck you, regardless of whether he was struck by another car.

With few exceptions, New York State follows the No-Fault Rule. Drivers injured in car accidents must file injury claims with their own insurance companies. However, the same is not true for property damage claims like yours. You have a right to pursue the driver for the repairs to your car.

If the insurance company won't pay, and the damage to your car is less than $5,000, you can consider filing a lawsuit against the driver behind you in small claims court. Nassau County Small Claims Court has a jurisdictional (maximum) limit of $5,000.

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,

Judge Calisi

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