General Question

Jeruba's avatar

I have a legal question relating to an insurance matter. Can anyone help steer me in the right direction?

Asked by Jeruba (55927points) August 6th, 2023

Please read at least the brief details before commenting.


BRIEF: A piece fell off my son’s car on the freeway, and a woman claimed it damaged her car. The insurance company is paying her claim even though there was virtually no perceptible damage. We want to contest this.

MODERATELY DETAILED: A piece of the plastic bumper fell off the back of my son’s car while he was driving on the freeway. He had repaired it once with hot glue. A woman pursued him and waved him over. She said her car had hit it, and she showed him the damage, which he perceived as the very familiar sight of a smudge of hot glue. She took his information, and soon afterward the insurance company notified me (he is on my policy) that there was a case.

I called the agent and asked for more information. He was sympathetic but not very helpful. That was less than a week ago. Yesterday’s mail brought a determination from the ins. co. that my son was at fault, that the damage amounted to $1000, and that we may be penalized for this.

I have my son’s written account and considerably more detail available.

*COMMENTS: The woman’s manner was practiced, confident, even aggressive. She wore a tailored business suit. My son took her name but did not have the presence of mind to take any pictures. He’s never been in such a situation before. He said all he saw was a scuff mark that probably could have been wiped off with a cloth.

I looked her up later. She is an attorney who runs her own law firm, specializing in immigration law.

He doesn’t contest her story that her car struck the lost piece. However, he neither heard nor felt the lightweight plastic apron fall off the rear of the car.

For what it’s worth, we have insured our various cars with this company since 1986 and never filed a claim or had one filed against us.

QUESTION: If we believe that there was no more damage than a smudge and certainly nothing warranting a payout of $1000, I think it’s worth filing an appeal. But before I do, I want to understand our position, possible outcomes, and what’s the worst that could happen. I’d like to consult a lawyer, but I don’t want to get caught up in some sort of sleazy money-grabbing lawsuit. I’m not looking for any money. I just don’t want to be penaized for a false or unsupportable claim.

How should I pursue this?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

5 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Correction: Damage was said to be “up to” $1000. We think zero is more like it.

Typo correction: penalized

SnipSnip's avatar

If it was a smudge perhaps you could just pay to get it buffed out and leave the insurance company out of it.

Side bar: Lightweight plastic items can be dangerous at 70 mph. I would be breathing a sigh of relief and getting my car in safe order. That piece could have hit someone on a motor cycle.

I do not know in which state your situation sits, but the laws differ.

seawulf575's avatar

Was there a police report? Did your son get cited?

My guess is that the insurance company didn’t feel like pursuing any litigation as it would be cheaper to just pay off the claimant.

In many states, from a legal aspect, if there was evidence any damage to her car was from your son’s car then you, your son, or the insurance company would be on the hook for damages. Of course laws vary from place to place so it is good to review traffic codes. I believe that if your son’s car was previously damaged and he didn’t fix it correctly (i.e. glue, duct tape, etc) and that piece falls off, he would be on the hook since he failed to properly repair/secure the piece that fell off. If willful negligence is seen as a cause the insurance company may balk at covering any lawsuit.

My recommendation would be to just pay for the damage to get buffed out. It would be cheaper than litigating the entire thing.

JLeslie's avatar

Is the $1,000 your deductible?

Frustrating situation.

If the smudge looks like it could have been caused by what fell off of your son’s car, then I think most likely it was the fault of what fell off of your son’s car. A stone would cause a chip or dent, or a slight rub against another car would be a scratch in the paint, etc. If the mark is inconsistent with the plastic item then you might have an argument. Did your insurance go out to evaluate the mark?

The body work repair people charge a fortune, it is a racket for the most part, and I think it is that way because insurance does most of the paying out for this type of thing. I had the smallest hit by my neighbor, and I tried my best to save her money, and the two quotes I got were around $600 for a little scrape that I felt should be no more than $300.

I think you could ask for another place to quote the repair. Is it a luxury car? I can tell you my husband will pay basically anything for a repair on his Porsche if he feels like the person quoting the price is good enough to fix a Porsche, and he only wants someone who in his mind is top notch.

Edit: a boss of mine once hit a car and left a note. The owner of the other car claimed the hit caused damage in multiple places on her car, and my friend told her insurance the woman was taking advantage and the only hit was in one specific part of the car. Her insurance did follow up. That is a different scenario, but I thought I would mention it. I once was hit and the other driver didn’t believe he did it, he didn’t feel it, but the cop agreed with me when I explained what happened. Both cars showed scrapes in the pain and my story made perfect sense. I believe the other driver didn’t feel it.

I am surprised your insurance will raise your rates for one accident.

Caravanfan's avatar

My opinion is that it will cost you more money, aggravation and hassle to contest it then just to let the insurance company deal with it.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther