Can an insurance company refuse to pay a claim for an insured who rear-ended my son by claiming, that their insured was also rear-ended?

My son was at a complete stop on an interstate due to a traffic jam. He was rear-ended and in turn he rear-ended the car in front of him. The driver who hit my son claims he was rear-ended also although he had no information on the car that hit him in broad daylight and that “phantom” car was somehow able to get away from the scene even though traffic was moving very slow and no one reported him. Can this insurer really deny the claim based on this hearsay?

Asked on October 18, 2011 under Accident Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Was there a police report of the accident?  If so, the police report should state who was at fault in the accident.  In a chain reaction series of rear-end collisions, the driver who rear-ended the first car starting this series of collisions is liable.

If there wasn't anyone who hit the car that hit your son, then the driver of the car that hit your son is liable.  If the insurance company is denying the claim, your son (if he is at least 18) can sue the driver who hit him for negligence.  If your son is a minor, you will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file the lawsuit on behalf of your son.  If there wasn't any damage to the rear of the car that hit your son, this could be an argument you could use to prove the at-fault driver is lying about the phantom driver.

In addition to a property damage claim for the damage to your son's car, the other driver is also liable if your son was injured in the accident.  The personal injury claim is separate from the property damage claim.  When your son completes his medical treatment and is released by the doctor or is declared to be permanent and stationary by the doctor which means no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your son's medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for the wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your son's injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

The insurance company should accept liability prior to your son incurring huge medical bills; otherwise, you will be stuck with those bills unless you prevail in the lawsuit.

Only one lawsuit is filed against the at-fault driver for negligence and will include both the property damage to the vehicle and damages for the personal injury claim.


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