What todo if I’m being sued by the owner of a vehicle that I was driving when I had an accident?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What todo if I’m being sued by the owner of a vehicle that I was driving when I had an accident?

I was recently served papers for a small claims suit against me, by my ex-fiance for damage to her vehicle in the amount of $5000. Short back story, while we were still in a relationship, we were headed to the grocery store in her van one day. I was driving and I rear-ended a large truck and caused some damage to the front of the vehicle but none to the truck. About 6months ago, I got a quote for the repair from a reputable shop and told her that I would pay the deductible for her insurance claim and the cost of a rental car while her van is being repaired. However, now, she is suing me for $5000 for the repairs and refuses to make an insurance claim. I’m obviously frustrated because I really don’t want to pay that much to repair a van that blue books at only 5000 in

Asked on April 26, 2019 under Accident Law, Idaho


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the owner of a vehicle is not required to make an insurance claim: they are allowed to sue the person who damaged their vehicle if they want, and their motives for doing so are irrelevant. Also irrelevant is that you contributed to the household previously. ll that matters is whether you were at fault in damaging her vehicle, which you were, since you rear-ended the truck: the rear driver in a rear-end collision is liable since he was obligated to maintain safe following distance and speed, and pay enough attention, that he could stop in time.
So as stated, she may sue you. Since it is rear-end collision, she will almost certainly prove you were at fault. In the lawsuit, she can recover the lesser of the reasonable repair cost or the vehicle's then-current fair market or blue book value. You may provide you own evidence (such as having some mechanic or car appraiser testify) as to the repair cost or value, to show that she is not entitled to as much as she hopes to get.

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