Am I liable to pay for this and should I?

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Am I liable to pay for this and should I?

In a parking lot I was slowly reversing and looking behind, there was no visible vehicle

whatsoever, and someone behind me pulled out from my rear right side no headlights or indicator on and a small accident happened. The individual took a photo of my

registration and license and threatened me with calling the police. I’m a college student so I was in fear at the time and gave him my license and registration and forgot to take his. Now, he’s asking me for more money than it costs to repair the damages. What

should I do? Pay him or ignore the incident. My car had no damage and his supposedly has a lot of damages when the only thing that was damaged was his indicator light. He asked for $750.

Asked on December 6, 2016 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

He can't get money from you unless you 1) agree to pay; or 2) he sues you and wins. To win, he'd have to show that you were at fault, or driving negligently/carelessly, in causing the accident. Based on what you write, he may not be able to do that: if anything, what you describe makes him appear to be more at fault than you--and even if you and he are seemingly equally at fault (or a court could not tell who was at fault), because he needs to convince the court that it is more likely than not that you were at fault, not him, you have an advantage. As the person suing, the burden of proof would be on him, and if he fails to carry that burden, he would lose. If he does not have any other witnesses or any evidence other than his testimony, which you will presumably contradict, he may not be able to do that.
Even if he can prove you were at fault, he can only recover from you an amount equal to the provable (i.e. proven by receipts or invoices or bills) repair cost. 
Based on what you write, you do not appear to need to pay an amount in this case that is more than you believe the damage is worth. If you can settle for an amount you are willing to pay to avoid the time, effort, etc. of litigation, then it may be worth settling; in that case, though, get any settlement agreement in writing and signed before you turn over any money.


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