Visitor Question

How to determine fault in parking lot fender bender?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Simpsonville, South Carolina)

I was in the lane after backing my car out of a parking lot, in gear to go forward, when a truck backing from the angled parking on the other side bumped me. Initially, after taking my statement, the other driver’s insurance company’s investigator set up an appointment to appraise and repair my car. The day before the appointment they called and cancelled the appointment.

Now, instead of accepting responsibility, they are saying the other party strongly disagrees and they are reevaluating fault. My insurance company is aware of the accident. Do I need to advise them of this change? What role will my insurance play? Do I need to get a lawyer? My damage is less than $1,000. The truck that hit me probably has no damage. Thank you.

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,

Based on the facts, it is difficult to determine who was at fault. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They will further investigate the facts in an effort to determine whether they should pay the truck driver’s claim, or deny it.

You can be sure your insurance company will not pay the truck driver’s claim if they believe you were clearly not at fault. However, your auto policy gives your insurance the right to settle the claim and pay the truck driver, and to do so without your permission or consent. This may sound confusing, especially because most people think if they had no fault in an accident, their insurance company will not pay the other driver’s claim. However, it doesn’t really work that way.

If your insurance company determines that fault may not be as clear as you think, or they believe the truck driver is considering filing a lawsuit for injuries he may allege occurred because of the accident, your insurance company may decide to settle the claim and be done with it.

It would just not be worth it for them to have to pay their attorneys to defend you in the lawsuit, especially if there’s a reasonable possibility the truck driver may win. While you can object, your insurance company is well within its rights to settle the claim, whether you like it or not.

You will not have to seek legal counsel. In the event the claim cannot be settled and the truck driver decides to file a lawsuit against you, your insurance company will provide an attorney to defend you at no cost.

Be sure you were not injured. If you were, seek immediate medical care and tell your insurance company. Keep in contact with them and cooperate fully. Do not speak with the other truck driver’s insurance company’s claims adjuster until you have spoken with your insurance company.

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,

Published: October 19, 2017

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