Lawsuit for low speed rear end?

by Nunya

I was behind a lady exiting a parking lot at a red light. The light turned green and she started to go and I let off the break. She then stopped the car so that someone on the street could get in. I then rolled into the back of her car. I had only let off the brake and the speed was minimal, less than 10 mph.

There was no damage to my car (mazda 3) or her car (ford explorer), but we exchanged info. As she walked away, she mentioned oh my back might be hurting. I said nothing and drove off and reported it to my insurance company.

She later filed a claim with my insurance, which they denied after investigation. Six months later I received a summons to court where she is suing me for $30,000! I can't afford a lawyer, will insurance cover it? Is her claim baseless? What can I do about this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Lawsuit for low speed rear end?":

Nunya (Maryland):

The woman’s attorney may be relying on Maryland Code Title 21-310 (a) Following too Closely. Section 21-310 reads as follows:

"The driver of a motor vehicle may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the other vehicle and of the traffic on and the condition of the highway."

Under Section 21-310, the court may find you were following the other driver too closely, and as a direct result of doing so, you collided with the rear of the driver’s car. While most 10 mph collisions do not result in injuries, it is always possible this one did.

You certainly acted properly by complying with the Cooperation Clause of your car insurance policy and notifying the company right after the accident. By doing so you afforded your insurance company sufficient time to investigate the accident and its underlying circumstances.

Fortunately, your insurance company now has the information they need to protect you in the lawsuit. Under the terms of your policy, you insurance company is legally obligated to defend you in the lawsuit by proving an attorney to represent you at no cost. Regardless of how the case works out, you will be covered up to the limits of your insurance policy.

Your have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you call the claims adjuster who handled the original claim against you. You likely have the claim number around. You will need it when calling the company.

If your insurance company believes the other driver may have a slight chance of prevailing, your insurance company may offer the driver a nuisance settlement. A nuisance settlement is sometimes paid by an insurance company when they determine the cost of defending the lawsuit outweighs a small payout to "make the claim go away."

Unfortunately, you have no control over whether your insurance company decides to continue to fight the claim or ends it by paying the driver a nuisance settlement. In any event, there is a good chance if the matter continues, the driver will not prevail in court.

At this point, when the matter is concluded your insurance company may decide to do the following:

- Raise your premiums
- Cancel your policy
- Decline to renew
- Do nothing and let you policy continue with the same premiums

If you haven't had any car accidents in a while, it is likely nothing will change, and this matter won't adversely affect your policy or its 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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Comments for Lawsuit for low speed rear end?

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by: Anonymous

My brother in law pulled the same stunt that this woman did. He was at a toll booth and a driver behind him was going 5 mile per hour (per accident reconstruction) and tapped the back of his car.

My brother in law did not spend one night in the hospital but claimed his knee hurt.

He ended up suing the driver of the car, the owner of the car and the newspaper company of the newspapers that the driver was delivering.

He got a settlement of $375,000 and built a new house with thee money. I can tell you for a fact, there is nothing wrong with him. This kind of stuff makes me sick. I only wish I could turn him in.

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