General Question

tigerlilly2's avatar

Can this person legally sue me?

Asked by tigerlilly2 (1243 points ) March 28th, 2011

Last year in June, my brakes went out in my car at a redlight and my car hit the car in front of me. My car had already slowed down before the impact and I pulled my emergency break up when I realized my breaks weren’t working. The lady I hit jumped out of the car and claimed that her head hit the windshield and promptly called the police, even though it did not.

When the police officer arrived and listened to both sides of our story, he checked the breaks in my car and said that it was a no fault accident. The police report said there was no damage to either vehicle. When asked if she needed an ambulance, she declined.

Just a few days ago, I received a letter in the mail from the lady’s lawyer claiming that I owed her $5,000.00. The letter does not claim what for but asks for prompt payment in the form of a check. It also says I have 30 days to pay it or I will be sued in court. There is a number attatched and I have called it and left messages but no one will return my call.

Does this lady have a claim?

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28 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Go to your insurance company, notify the lady’s lawyer that is what you are doing.

DO NOT send a check. She will have to provide bills and a doctor’s report and maybe x-rays.

yankeetooter's avatar

Send the letter to your insurance agent and let them take care of it…They are used to dealing with such situations.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Yes! It’s ridiculous, but she could sue and win. The exact same thing happened to me in college and the lady sued my insurance company and won $8,000. Of course I didn’t have to pay, but my premium went up.

Do not send her one red cent just because you got a threatening letter from an attorney. She probably won’t go through the legalities of suing you and the letter is probably falsified. If a judge doesn’t order you to pay, don’t! If she does sue, direct all communication to your insurance company and do not even talk to her lawyer!!!! That’s what my insurance agent advised me to do.

tigerlilly2's avatar

I will definitely not send her a check, thank you so much for telling me that. I am a little relieved that I may not have to pay it out of pocket. @BBSDTfamily I am so sorry that happened to you. The nerve of some people really sickens me.

I have changed car insurance companies since this incident. What should I do about that? Should I get a lawyer for myself and seek their advice?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

If she didn’t seek immediate medical care, her case is much weakened. I’d hire an attorney if I were you, but hopefully she’ll disappear when you don’t respond to her extortion attempt.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@tigerlilly2 Get to your old insurance company. You paid them for coverage.

MrItty's avatar

Of course she can sue you. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. I assume what you meant to ask was “Can she actually win a lawsuit”, and the answer to that comes down to how good her lawyer is vs how good your lawyer is.

rooeytoo's avatar

I was always under the impression that when you rearended someone, regardless of the reason why, you were at fault. So I would think you are liable for damages to her car. I am surprised a cop said no fault because it would seem technically it was your fault because your brakes didn’t work. I wouldn’t send a check but I would probably call an attorney of my own to find out exactly what my liabilities are. Good luck and let us know what happens.

Where is @johnpennington, he would probably know what to do!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tigerlilly2 Tomorrow AM, call your former insurance agent and let him/her know what you received. The agent should get the ball rolling for you.

Seelix's avatar

I don’t know anything about legal stuff, but based on what you’ve said about slowing down and the fact that there was no damage to her car, I would think that if her head were to have hit the windshield, she wouldn’t have been wearing a seatbelt, which is illegal in itself.

klutzaroo's avatar

Sending the letter to you demanding money immediately is a trashy attempt at intimidation. Let your insurance company handle scum, they’re used to it. And its their responsibility anyway. Your responsibility was to keep your car in good working repair, including brakes, and since you didn’t do that, you’re having to deal with this.

tigerlilly2's avatar

@klutzaroo Thank you for your input but please do not assume I have enough money to fix everything wrong with my car. I’m a college student working two jobs and joining the military. My car is an older model and I admit it is falling apart, but I do what I can to maintain it.

rooeytoo's avatar

I’m sorry, I missed the part where you said no damage to either car, dumb me. That makes this really sound like a bit of a scam. Definitely forward a copy of the letter to your insurance agency with a copy of the accident report if you have one. Also, there must be legal aid on campus or somewhere that can give you some advice.

klutzaroo's avatar

@tigerlilly2 Please do not assume a lack of funds on your part gives you the right to operate an unsafe vehicle on the roads, endangering everyone else. You do not have to “fix everything wrong,” but it is your responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is not a hazard to the safety of others Brakes are essential, air conditioning is not. You are being an irresponsible driver, failing to maintain the essentials of your vehicle in an operational condition. You are absolutely at fault for this “accident” and should be sued. The excuse of “I can’t afford a vehicle that won’t mow people down” is no excuse at all.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
optimisticpessimist's avatar

Since the officer did not cite you for anything, I also guess you had a current state safety inspection when the accident happened. If you kept a copy of that, have it handy as well.

blueiiznh's avatar

Do not send a check or any monies. Send a copy of the letter to the rep for the insurance company you had at the time of the accident.
There is also a limit of time relative to making claims. There should be some record of this with the police. I am suprised if the police would not have at least wanted some kind of accident report, but if they stated nothing then its a bit tough for this other person to come looking for funds this long after.
Sounds like you should not be held responsible for anything. Unfortunately you will have to stay on top of this mess as other people can throw shit around like this and hope people cave.
Try not to worry as they have a burden of proof and are a bit late at coming to the table.
They are trying to prey on you.
Stay vigilant on pushing this kind of activity away.
Sorry you have to deal with this. There are some real scums out there.

john65pennington's avatar

First, did the police make a report? If so, you need to obtain a copy and see what the officer has written in it.

I will be amazed, if the investigating officer wrote no-fault in his report. Your vehicle hit the vehicle in front of you and its always the vehicle behind’s fault. And, what about your brakes? Did you know you had faulty brakes? Did the brake light come on in your vehicle? Did you hear your brakes “squealing”, when you applied your brakes?

I would not respond to the letter sent to you. I would contact my insurance company and show your agent the letter.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@tigerlilly2 I am sorry you’re getting heat from people about this, because the truth is that anyone’s brakes can go out at any time so don’t feel like you did something wrong. Don’t even respond to the letter. I would let your old agent know what is going on, but do not worry about it besides that. If you get a phone call, give them your insurance agent’s (the one at the time of the accident) number but besides that don’t respond to letters. This is what insurance is for so if you had insurance at the time of the accident, relax! Good luck!

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@tigerlilly2 PS- Sending a threatening letter to you is not normal procedure for this type of incident anyway, so I seriously doubt she even has a lawyer. She probably wrote this letter herself and is hoping you fall for it.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Agree with @BBSDTfamily. She’s attempting extortion and hoping that you buy it.

rooeytoo's avatar

@john65pennington – I learned that lesson when I hit the car in front of me by having the car behind me hit me, a domino thing. It was my fault for rearending the car in front regardless of the reason it happened. It taught me to never get too close to the car in front under any circumstances!

Seaofclouds's avatar

Personally, I’d be researching the number that is on the letter you received to see if it is legit (since you haven’t gotten an answer or response). When you call and leave messages, what does the answering machine say? How long have you been waiting for a response? If you are truly concerned and think this is legitimate, I’d write a letter and send it certified/return receipt to the office that sent the letter letting them know that all further inquiries need to be directed to your lawyer or insurance company (which ever you decide to go with). I’d contact the old insurance company (before sending the certified letter) to ask them if they even received anything from her after the accident and if they paid anything to her. Did you actually report the accident to your insurance company at the time?

choreplay's avatar

This is a bluff. Her timing is highly suspicious. Her time has run out and she is making a last ditch attempt. But do follow through as if it is real. If she has done little to nothing of what it takes to build a case, she’s screwed and has nothing even though the accident was likely reported as your fault. If she had not sat on her rights, yes you would likely have been at fault and your insurance company would have had to pay. With regard to not being with your former insurance co. your coverage should have been based on that you were paying then. Beware, don’t put it past your old insurance companies adjusters to lie to you about this and say they don’t have to represent you.

The likely way this is going to play out is you’ll contact your insurance company; they will lie to you and say you’re not covered. This other lady will not likely file suit, her position has been weakened to the point of nothing. If she does file suit they will find out fast you can’t pay and if that attorney is worth anything he will go after your old insurance co rather than you.

Another reason I can tell this is bull is she is demanding an amount that would not be worth pursuing in a court, because court and attorneys cost will rack up fast. She would have to pay her attorney when they realize you have nothing. This smells like bull in so many different ways.

If she didn’t site any doctors bills she has none and is another reason why her case is nothing.

If a suite is started regarding this, take a big side step to the right and point them in the direction of your old insurance company and let them fight it out. They want the best option for getting at some money and that would be your old insurance company. Don’t hire an attorney unless you have to force the hand of your old insurance company, because it is their job to hire an attorney for this.

kitkat25's avatar

I would not send her or her attorney any money. I would also get a copy of the police report saying that it was a no fault accident and that she declined an ambulance to the hospital even though she claimed to be injured. Also insist that she prove why she is suing for 5,000. It if is for medical bills then demand to see copies of her medical bills. Otherwise go ahead and let her sue if she feels the need to do this. Then she will have to prove her case in court. That is why you want to get a copy of the police report just in case she does decide to take it to court you can show that the officer said it was a no fault accident and there was no damage to either car.

tigerlilly2's avatar

I am obtaining a copy of the police report in two days and going to see a lawyer about the letter and her demands before I go to my former insurance company. Thank you all so much for your insightful and helpful answers; I will keep you updated.

@rooeytoo I understand how it is technically my fault because it was a hit in the rear BUT I did not know there was anything worng with my breaks until this incident. The police officer drove my car away from the site of the incident and had a mechanic come and pick it out because no one could figure out how my breaks suddenly went out like that.

There was absolutely no damage to her car at all. Not even a scratch.

tigerlilly2's avatar

*up not out haha, sorry about that

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Moe than likely depending upon your state… You will get the blame simply because you were in the car in back. That’s automatic liability and your insurance company will indeed be sued for her so called damages like it or not.

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