What to do if I was sideswiped by a driver who came in to my lane but now am being held liable for damages to their rental car?

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What to do if I was sideswiped by a driver who came in to my lane but now am being held liable for damages to their rental car?

She indicated the car in front of her stopped short and to avoid colliding with them she came into my lane. We were practically side by side. She received the citation from the police officer. Her insurance accepted liability and my car is currently in the shop for repairs. I’ve now received a letter from the rental car company’s insurance (she was driving a rental) that says they have determined I’m at fault and to pay up for the damage to their vehicle.

Asked on November 6, 2013 under Accident Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You do not have to accept their determination: it has no legal effect. You can refuse to pay if you believe you were not at fault and force them to sue you and then prove their case in court (that is, prove that it is more likely than not that you were at fault) in order to receive a judgment against you. Since litigation, such as defending yourself from a suit, does have a cost, however, depending on how much they are seeking, you may wish to consider either paying (if it's a small amount) or trying to compromise/settle for some amount you are willing to pay. While it is certainly unfair to have to consider that, if you believe you were not at fault (since legally, you would only have to pay to the extent you were at fault), sometimes, the more economical decision is to pay something rather than spend money in a lawsuit; whether it makes sense to do so now depends on how much is being sought. You don't necessarily have to decide now whether to do that; you can wait to see if they do in fact file a lawsuit, then seek to settle.


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