What to do ifI think someonethat Ihad a fender bender with is going to sue me?

I rear-ended a car at a low speed yesterday. The other car was an SUV and didn’t appear to have sustained damage. My sedan had damage to the front. The lady from the car exchanged information with me, seemed unhurt and generally cheerful. I suggested we settle privately and she agreed but she emailed me later that she wants to go through insurance (we both have the same insurer). I learned now that she has also reported personal injury which seems hard to believe. I fear she may sue me given her behavior so far. What can I do to protect myself? I’ve not caused an accident in 17 years of driving.

Asked on September 8, 2011 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should notify your insurance company of the accident.  If the other driver files a lawsuit, it won't be for sometime.  First, she has to complete her medical treatment, then obtain medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  After that, the personal injury claim consisting of those items is filed with the insurance company.  This will take a number of months.  If the personal injury claim is settled, no lawsuit is filed.  If it is not settled, in CA there is a two year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case.  This means that any lawsuit would have to be filed before the two year anniversary of the date of the accident.  If she does file a lawsuit, your insurance company will provide you with an attorney at no cost.  Don't worry about it because most likely the case will be settled with the insurance company.

The personal injury claim is separate from the property damage claim.  The property damage is usually resolved early in the case with your insurance paying for repairs to the other driver's car.


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