If I had a car accident because another driver forced me off the road and ran but now the driver of the car that I hit is harassing me for compensation?

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If I had a car accident because another driver forced me off the road and ran but now the driver of the car that I hit is harassing me for compensation?

I swerved toward the buffer zone on the right and hit a parked car there. No one was injured except for myself. The driver of the car that I hit is harassing me even though the police report had determined that the cause of the accident was not me but the hit and run driver. He insists on blaming me for his loss even after I explained to him that he should pursue the hit and run driver via his insurance agency. I am stressed and concerned for my safety due to his hostile language. What should I do in this situation? How could I protect myself should his hostile language turn into hostile actions?

Asked on June 30, 2015 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you feel in danger, contact the police--that is what they are for.

The driver you hit knows one thing for sure--he is not at fault: his car was parked and not moving when it was hit. So he is looking for someone to pay for loss. He is not legally obligated to accept the police report's conclusions that you were not at fault. The law allows him to ask you for compensation, but if it ever turns physically threatening, again, contact the police--that's not a line he may cross. Certain forms of repeat harassment (calls at all hours of the day or night) may also be criminal and allow you to get the police involved. But if he more-or-less reasonably--even if persistently and clearly with underlying hostility--asks or demands you to pay, he can do that.

All you can do is either ignore his communications or, as stated, if they seem to cross the line into criminal threats (e.g. threats of violence or vandalism) report him to the police. You do not have to pay him anything unless he sues you in court and wins. If he does sue you, you can defend against his allegations by presenting your own evidence that you were not at fault, since liability (having to pay) in car accidents is based on fault.


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