If my son was passing a slower moving big rig on freeway when he was rear-ended by another vehicle, what are our options?

Almost no damage. All parties declined police report and stated no injuries. I got estimate that day for repair; under $500. A week later we are informed that the driver who rear-ended us is suing us for injuries. Her statement said that my son was merging and crashed into her. Damage photos don’t add up. We are having to fight it.

Asked on July 8, 2014 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you have relevant insurance (i.e. liability), report it to your insurer unless the amount you are being sued for is so little you'd rather pay it yourself. If you insurance, your insurer should step in, as per your policy, to defend you in court (and pay if you lose, up to policy limits) or settle the case.

If you don't have insurance, or your insurer will not defend you for some reason (in which case, you may have a lawsuit against the insurer, for breach of contract, if under the terms of your policy, they should defend you), or the amount you are being sued for exceeds your policy limits (since your insurer only needs to pay, settle, or defend up to the policy limits), you  will have to either pay or settle  the claim yourself (e.g. see if they'll take some lesser amount as payment in full) or defend yourself in court.

If you have to defend yourself in court, if the amount is less than $3,000, you may wish to act as your own attorney. If it's more than $3,000, you should retain a lawyer. If you are going to be pulled into court, you may countersue for any damages or costs you incurred, such as the $500 in car damage.

If you are sued, the other party will have to prove your son was at fault--driving carelessly--and also that his actions caused her injuries and the amount of her injuries. You will defend by trying to refute those claims: show that your son was not at fault; show that any injuries were not caused by the accident; and/or show that her injuries are exagerated and are not as bad as she is claiming.


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