Am I liable for damages in a car accident where my vehicle made no contact with the other car?

On June 7th 2018 I was merging onto the freeway between Vista and Orchard in
Boise Idaho. There were three merging lanes that tapered off and joined the
freeway. I was in the middle merging lane. There was a car to my right and a
car behind me. We were reaching the end of the merging lanes and I made the
decision to change lanes to let the car to my right merge onto the freeway. I
turned on my blinker and changed lanes. I had not seen any vehicle before
changing lanes. According to eye witnesses, my lane change cut off a vehicle.
The person driving the vehicle was able to break and move to the left-most lane
on the freeway. Their vehicle was top heavy and the driver lost control and hit
the median. After they struck the median, they over-corrected and drove their
vehicle into the ride side of the freeway. After the incident, I reported it to
my insurance company and they took my statement. I was ticketed for improper
lane change. Their insurance company did not reach out to me after the incident
to get my statement. I was uninsured at the time due to hardship, now that
person’s insurance company is pursuing me to cover the nearly 8,000 in vehicle
damages. Am I responsible for paying for those damages?

Asked on September 20, 2018 under Accident Law, Idaho

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You may be responsible. Physical contact is not necessary; what is necessary is that it can be shown that you were driving negligently or carelessly (like by changing lanes when there is a vehicle in the way) and that you caused the accident and damage (such as cutting someone off, causing them to lose control). While it's not certain you'd lose in court if sued--possibly the witnesses to the accident will not be persuasive or believable--what you describe could lead to you being liable if the court does believe that you cut the other vehicle off and caused the driver to lose control.


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