Visitor Question

Getting sued for minor fender bender with no real damages?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Sun Valley, California)

I was in a car accident 4 months ago. It was really rainy that day, the roads were slippery and I got to a stop light behind a car. Two minutes later the light turned green and the girl tried to make a left on a going straight lane road. My car made contact with the rear of her car.

When I say “contact” I literally mean it, because my car did not have any damages and hers only got a scratch ($368 scratch). Anyway she got out of the car, said she was fine and said she needed to take down my info in case. Right when she said that I knew what she meant.

I got a call from my insurance a few days later saying she got a lawyer and is claiming injuries. It turns out the girl was 9 weeks pregnant. Her lawyer is demanding $15,000. My insurance isn’t buying it and neither am I! Pregnancy causes back pain and headaches. Her lawyer is saying if we don’t settle he’ll sue! Can he do this?

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 Anonymous,

Anyone can sue anyone else, at any time, for just about anything. That doesn’t mean they will prevail.

Here’s the way it normally works…

In almost all cases a driver following another driver will be liable when the following driver strikes the vehicle in front. This is based on California Statute Section 21703 which reads as follows:

“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 vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”

The attorney is likely basing his or her case on Section 21703. In most cases, an attorney does not immediately sue the at-fault driver, although the attorney has every right to do so. Instead, the attorney would pursue a settlement directly with the driver’s insurance company.

In the unlikely event the claim can’t be settled, the attorney will likely file a lawsuit against you. If the attorney is demanding $15,000 you have nothing to be concerned about. This presumes you have the California minimum statutory car insurance limits, which are:

  • $15,000 for injury to one (1) person in one (1) accident
  • $30,000 for injuries to two (2) or more persons in one (1) accident
  • $5,000 for damage to personal property

In the event your insurance company refuses to settle your claim and the attorney sues you personally, your insurance company is almost certainly required to provide an attorney to represent you at no cost (up to your insurance policy limits).

Cooperate with your insurance company. They will investigate the claim. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot you can do to influence their actions. Your insurance company has the right to settle for an amount they believe the claim is worth.

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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