What is my responsibility for paying for minor traffic incident 1 year later?

UPDATED: Oct 31, 2010

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What is my responsibility for paying for minor traffic incident 1 year later?

I was involved in a minor automobile accident. I tapped the bumper of an auto in a parking lot. At the time, I offered to pay for any damage. The other party said, “No problem. Forget it.” At that time, no accident report or insurance claim was filed. One year later, the other party wants me to pay for the damage.

Asked on October 31, 2010 under Accident Law, Massachusetts


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The other driver could still file a claim with your insurance company since the statute of limitations has not expired.  Whether or not your insurance company will accept the claim is debatable since a year elapsed and there wasn't any police report.

If your insurance company denies the claim and the other driver files a lawsuit against you in Small Claims Court, you might be able to assert the defense of laches.  Laches is an unreasonable delay on the part of the plaintiff which is prejudicial to the defendant.  Your argument would be based on the other driver not pursuing the claim for a year.  The other driver's statement, "No problem. Forget it." would be hearsay and inadmissible unless it falls within an exception to the Hearsay Rule.  Aside from that issue, the other driver could deny making the statement.

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