If the fault is unclear regarding an accident and the other party wants us to sign a release, what should we do?

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If the fault is unclear regarding an accident and the other party wants us to sign a release, what should we do?

Our car was rear-ended but the other side accuses us of fault. They say that they have a witness that will vouch (which seems questionable) that it was our fault. They wouldn’t provide the policy number for us to just file a claim with insurance, unless we sign their release form acknowledging that we are at fault. We can’t move forward from the accident, because the other party is being aggressive and unwilling to just provide a policy number (we can let the insurance companies decide the fault)

Asked on August 18, 2011 California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

DON'T SIGN THE RELEASE.  The other driver is clearly at fault because you were rear-ended.  In CA, in a rear-end collision, the vehicle which rear-ended you is always at fault.  I suspect the other driver is uninsured and that is why no insurance information was provided.  If the other driver is uninsured and you have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, you can file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company.  You might also contact the police about this other driver being aggressive and refusing to provide a policy number.

In addition to a property damage claim for the cost of repairs to your car, if you were injured in the accident, you would have a personal injury claim.  When you  complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for  wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company (when these current insurance problems are resolved), you can reject the settlement offers and sue the other driver for negligence.  If the case is not settled with the insurance company, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the other driver prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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