What happens when 2 uninsured vehicles are involved in an accident and fault is disputed?

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What happens when 2 uninsured vehicles are involved in an accident and fault is disputed?

A driver cut me off, stopped short, and made a turn without a blinker. I swerved to avoid hitting her but ended up doing a little bumper damage to both vehicles. I am uninsured and they are as well. We live in a stae in which insurance isn’t a requirement. The other driver admitted to “trying to get away from me” because she said while at the previous light she saw me looking down and assumed I was on my phone texting (which is untrue). Now, she and her husband are making threats and being irrational. I have more than complied with them and aren’t sure where the legalities fall here.

Asked on June 21, 2012 under Accident Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Since both parties are uninsured, you would need to sue the other party for negligence for your property damage.  This would be a Small Claims Court case since it is just minor bumper damage.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs to your car.  If you need a rental car while your car is being repaired, your rental car cost should also be included in the amount of your damages.  You will have to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting a repair shop whose charges are comparable to other auto body repair shops in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive repair shop you could find, you will have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.  You will also have to select a rental car with a reasonable rate.  If you were to select the most expensive rental car you could find, you would have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.  In your Small Claims Court lawsuit,  your damages should also include court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.

Since liability for the accident is being disputed, the other party might sue you in Small Claims Court for property damage (cost of repairs).  A judge will have to determine who was at fault in the accident.  The at-fault party will be liable for the property damage to the other party's vehicle.

If your state has comparative negligence, both parties could be at fault and the court would determine a percentage of liability for each party.  For example, if one party is 40% liable and the other party is 60% lliable, this would mean that if you are 40% liable, you would only be able to recover 60% of your damages from the other party.  If the other party is 60% liable, the other party would only be able to recover 40% of damages from you.  These figures are for purposes of example only and are not the figures of liability that the court might determine in the case.


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