Visitor Question

What if we believe the claim against us is a scam?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Los Angeles, California)

My daughter was driving with her roommate minutes from her college around 9:30pm September 2014 getting fast food. She put her blinker on and was merging into the right lane when she side-swiped the car coming up on her right. My daughter was driving a 2016 Dodge Charger and man was driving an older Mercedes. He also had a woman passenger.

  • NO police were called
  • NO 911 or ambulance was called
  • Cars had minor damage – both parties drove home after exchanging insurance

My daughter was covered under my car insurance which had good coverage. My ex-husband called the other driver the next day and we accepted full responsibility “assuming” it was our daughter’s fault since she was only 17 and we didn’t have a lot to go on, other than she was switching lanes.

The man was in his 30’s or 40’s so we took his word that my daughter didn’t check her rear view mirror before moving over. At any rate, we thought that was it. Both cars were repaired in a week. My ex-husband had to contact the other driver to get his full insurance as we did not hear from him right away and we wanted to get the process going (we were in no way running away from our responsibility for our daughter and wanted to get this resolved).

I say this as looking back my ex talked to him almost 3 times over the phone as he did not provide all his details up front at first (so we kept having to call him back to get all his insurance info). Ten days later I get notified by my insurance that he had filed an “injury” claim.

We had no idea he was injured and my daughter and her roommate confirmed the man had no injuries they could see or hear about the night of incident. He made no comment either he was concerned or gave any indication the issue was other than the two cars.

At any rate, my insurance company never provided me the details of the injury until 2 years later when we get summoned by the driver. I found out the statute of limitations was about to expire so now that driver is dragging this out.

My question is, how can a car incident so minor, where both cars drive away (NO ONE is injured at the scene, NO police, NO police report, and to our knowledge this man never went to a hospital or anything that night) be taken seriously 2 years later?

My ex-husband did call him one last time when I told him the guy was claiming injury…he was so shocked as he had spoke multiple times to the man to get his insurance and he never let us know anything about an injury. The man told my ex that he had a back issue and woke up the next morning with a stiff back. His own words to my husband were, “I’m just going to submit for a few office visits.”

I was shocked that this man was even talking about visits he felt he could do based on a small traffic issue with my daughter – what does she or this incident have to do with him getting a few office visits? Of course this wasn’t his true motive as now I’m being told by my insurance that he is having “surgery”? Surgery 3 years later from a minor side swipe on a local road going less than 25 miles per hour?

My largest peeve is that it took 2 years for this man to even tell us what the injury was…by then my insurance had handed this off to 6 different “case workers” none of which has provided us any more details than “we still are waiting to hear what the injuries are.”

Finally when statues were about to run out THEN we hear? And now surgery – 3 years later? How can we be at fault when no police were at the scene and no police report was filed? My daughter was there and she and her roommate say NO trauma was to blame for any complaints this man had. Thank you for any response you can give.

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,

Although this type of scenario is clearly frustrating, you have no way of knowing if the driver’s claim is legitimate. Based on the facts you present, it is difficult to believe that’s the case. Nevertheless, the lawsuit must be defended.

While it may seem like a scam, there is no way you can know if it really is. Be assured your insurance company is obligated to provide an attorney at no cost to defend you and your daughter in the lawsuit up to the limits of your policy. That right to legal representation is set out in your insurance policy.

It is important to know a person can file a lawsuit at just about anytime, just about anywhere, and for just about any reason. That doesn’t mean that person has a legitimate case, or that s/he will prevail. You can be sure your insurance company will not pay the driver any compensation unless he can prove his injuries and required surgery were directly and exclusively caused by the accident.

However, in some cases, when an insurance company decides the cost of defending a lawsuit is more than the case might be settled for, the insurance company will settle. There is little an insured can do about that.

If the man’s claim has no basis in law or fact, it is likely your attorney will prevail in a Motion for Summary Judgment. Moreover, if the court determines the man’s case has no basis in law or fact, and that his lawsuit is frivolous, the court (judge) may assess court courts and attorneys fees against the driver.

For now, cooperate with your insurance company. They handle this kind of thing all the time.

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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