Injuries from minor fender bender?

by Alyssia
(Ballwin, MO)

My fiance was driving my car from the gas station. He noticed someone in the turn lane with their blinker on. They continued to sit there while no traffic passed, so he pulled out thinking that he was in the way. As soon as he pulled out, the guy decided to merge onto the road and not the gas station.

The guy's car was hit in the front passenger tire. He told us he was fine and the cop that he was fine. After we left the scene he apparently changed his story and told the cop that his ankle was hurt from braking before impact. He refused medical treatment.

About 2 weeks later we are now receiving a letter from an attorney stating that said person is suing us. There is no possible way that he broke his ankle while braking going maybe 10 mph. Is this legal? Is he committing fraud? What can we do about this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injuries from minor fender bender?":

Alyssia (Ballwin, MO):

Attorneys normally don't commence legal representation of a client by sending a letter to another driver threatening to sue him or her.

Instead, an attorney will likely state he or she represents their client for injuries sustained as the result of the second driver's negligence. Then, the attorney will normally suggest the second driver turn the matter over to their insurance company.

Attorneys know that in most cases, drivers are insured. And it's the insurance company who has the "deep pockets," not the insured.

You must realize the attorney is not going away. He or she didn't send you the letter just to upset you. Instead, the attorney wants you to turn the letter over to your insurance company. If you don't, then the attorney will likely sue you personally. If this occurs, your insurance company will still defend you, but it is not wise to wait for that to happen.

If you haven't already done so, immediately turn the letter over to your insurance company. You can be confident they aren't going to accept liability on your behalf if they believe the other driver wasn't actually injured, or that you weren't at-fault in the accident.

For your insurance company to accept liability and pay the driver's claim will require medical proof from the driver's physician confirming the driver sustained injuries, and proof those injuries were the direct result of the crash.

However, because Missouri is a pure comparative negligence state, liability may be apportioned between both drivers. In this case, the percentage of your negligence and the percentage of the other driver's negligence will be taken into account, and any settlement paid to the victim will be decreased proportionately according to his or her percentage of fault in the accident.

For more information on Missouri's Pure Comparative Fault Doctrine read:

Missouri Law Review Volume 50 - Comparative Fault in Missouri

You faithfully pay your insurance premiums so that in case of an accident your insurance company will intercede on your behalf. At the end, if your insurance company decides the accident was not your fault, it is like they won't hold the accident against you, and thereby not raise your premiums.

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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