If I injured someone in an accident but was not at fault, what is my responsibility for expenses?

The mother of a teenage son called yesterday to ask if I can help with some of the expenses for her son’s injury. About 4 months ago, he darted in front of my truck and a I struck him going about 25 mph. I was in the right. There was no citation issued. The report clearly recounts him saying he didn’t look before he crossed and I have a witness report. I stayed at the accident and met the mother. She was very understanding (it turns out the boy has ADD). She called yesterday saying that she didn’t expect the expenses to be so high and for the insurance not to cover. I told her I would send $200. She was thankful. If I send her a check for $200, can she use it in a case against me in the future?

Asked on June 3, 2014 under Personal Injury, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you were not at fault, you have no legal responsibility or obligation to pay anything at all: liability, or a legal obligation to pay, is based on fault.

To protect yourself if you choose to voluntarily pay anything (e.g. $200), send the check to her some way you can prove or track delivery, together with a letter which states that the enclosed check does not represent any acceptance of any fault, responsibility, or liability, and is being provided voluntarily, to help a family a need, or other language to that effect, and keep a copy of the letter and of the check.


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