Visitor Question

Getting sued for $500,000 after a fender bender?

Submitted By: Holl (Charlottsville, Virginia)

Two years ago, I was at a red light on an off ramp from the highway. The car in front of me began to turn right on Red, but stopped. I had started to accelerate and looked to see if the path was clear for me to turn and rear ended the guy in front of me.

The police report states that I was going no more than 10 mph and there was minimal if any damage to both vehicles. The guy is now suing for $500,000. He’s claiming shoulder injuries, but his medical records show a previous injury before the accident. He’s rejected all settlement attempts and filed a bad faith letter.

What are the chances he will be awarded more than my $100,000 limit in court? Is there anything I can do?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Holl,

You can be confident any settlement made will be a factor of the driver’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and the driver’s pain and suffering. The driver’s prior injury will also be factored into the settlement offer.

Based on the facts, you were in violation of Virginia’s Revised Statutes Section 46.2-816, “Following Too Closely.” The speed of 10 mph is irrelevant in this instance. If you struck the driver from behind, you were very likely in violation of Section 46.2-816, which reads in part:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.”

It is difficult to believe the driver’s injuries, resulting medical bills, out-of-pocket costs, and pain and suffering amounted to $500,000. Based on the facts, the driver’s “bad faith” letter is a figment of his imagination. A Bad Faith action must be based on the reality of pending negotiations.

For example, let’s say a driver was injured when struck from behind, and his or her past, present, and future medical bills amounted to $5,000. There were no permanent injuries. The insurance company offered the driver $25,000 to settle the claim. That settlement was based a multiple of 5 times medical bills. Under the circumstances, an offer of $25,000 would be more than reasonable.

The driver rejected the offer, demanding $500,000. Such a demand would be entirely unreasonable. A “Bad Faith” letter, or legal action would very likely be summarily dismissed in court. The chances of the driver receiving a settlement, or even a court award of more than $100,000 are quite unrealistic.

Your auto insurance is almost certainly obligated to provide you with legal representation to defend this claim. It would be a good idea to discuss the specifics with them.

Learn more here: Preventing Fake Injury Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck with your claim,

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