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Being sued for accident I didn't cause - Please Help

Discussion in 'Auto Accidents, Injuries' started by Hawk99, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello there!

    Just posting this in the off chance that someone has time to read it and provide a little feedback

    In 2016 I was smashed by a car that was speeding as I was pulling out of my alley. It's extremely hard to see past the parked cars in that particular alley way. I only pulled far enough to see the street, inching out as slowly as possible. The car that hit me was coming so fast I didn't even have time to react.

    They hit the front corner of my car so hard that I spun sideways into another parked car on the side of the road. There is no way they would have hit me if they weren't speeding, or if they were paying attention. These are extremely narrow roads in my neighborhood and all of my neighbor's comment on the regular problem of people speeding down these roads and not paying attention. I was absolutely a casualty of that, and several neighbors made that comment when it happened.

    In fact, just this last July 4th (just days ago), another car wreck happen in the exact same spot at around 11am. That blind intersection is tremendously dangerous, and I know other similar accidents have occurred here.

    When I was hit, my car was totaled, and the car that hit me was only slightly damaged. That driver (who had his girlfriend in the passenger side) were able to drive home without issue. I, on the other hand, needed to have my neighbors help me push my car back into my driveway. But it was completely wrecked.

    I got on the horn with my insurance company immediately, explaining to them that I do not feel even the slightest bit responsible for this accident - that they were absolutely speeding and not paying attention, and that's why they clipped the nose of my vehicle.

    I provided lengthy emails describing exactly how the accident occurred, I took many pictures and I even have a video I made recently to demonstrate that there is no way to see the road without having the entire car out of the driveway and into the street.

    Here is where things get tricky. Unfortunately my insurance company decided that I was at fault, and somehow I missed that communication years ago. I had received a message that my car was going to be paid for in full at the time, and that no further action was going to be required on my part, so I just forgot about it.

    Fast forward to 2019. I received notification from my insurance company that the other party was going to be seeking damages that exceeded my insurance cap of $10,000, and that if I am served papers, I might want to seek legal counsel outside of my insurance.

    At this point I am still thinking that this is a no-fault situation. I have not yet seen the communication that I was considered at fault by my own insurance company. So I didn't give this too much thought. I figured if they wanted to come after me, it would be difficult to prove it was my fault.

    I was finally served papers in June that the other party would be seeking injury damages of around $17,000. $10,000 of that it's been covered by insurance, so I would owe $7000.

    This seemed like a joke to me, as they were the ones who hit and totaled my car. The driver of the other car and his girlfriend seemed perfectly fine. I don't believe for a second that they suffered any injuries. I was in pain for the following week, but I didn't seek any injury damages as I am not a litigious person, and just wanted this to be taken care of and out of the way, which I explained to my insurance company at the time. I suppose I thought that if I didn't go after them for anything more than car repair, they would do the same, because I had it way worse than they did.

    So after I was served, I got in contact with my insurance company to ask if I should seek legal counsel. My new claims adjuster told me they would negotiate on my behalf, but after a lot of confusion oh, I realized that I was considered at fault for the accident by my own insurance company and hadn't realized this until now. Somehow I had missed the letter & email they sent me years ago informing me that I was considered at fault.

    I told my new adjuster that I intend to fight this and find my own lawyer if I needed to. They told me that I have a right to do that, but based on all of the information, including the pictures and summary I provided at the time, my interests would best be served by insisting that the other car was speeding, and see if we can negotiate down their claim. So, I said okay give it a try.

    My adjuster got back to me a little later and said the other party would be willing to bring it down to $6,000 with a payment plan that would suit my budget for however long. She told me she got the impression that this was just their starting number, and that there was room for more negotiation. She also told me that if I'm able to come up with a certain amount to pay upfront, that could reduce the amount even further. Basically "they just want to recover something" for injury damages even if it is not the full $7,000.

    Here's the deal. I don't want to pay these people a single penny. I don't want to be sending money to another person who drives recklessly down these streets, (showing off to his girlfriend in his mercedes) because people like that are a constant nuisance and endanger people's lives. I do not feel in my heart that I am the least bit at fault in the situation. I believe my insurance company was wrong in their final determination of the accident, but I don't know if there's any way for me to prove that now.

    I would love to share the video I made recently with somebody on this forum to get their expert opinion on whether or not I have a case, and if it would be worth it for me to try and battle this.

    I don't have any disposable income at this time. I have a full-time job, but I am also currently in a 3 to 4 year program getting myself out of debt. So until I get a significant raise, or a large chunk of money comes in from somewhere, I basically have NO extra money. I make just enough to scrape by month-to-month living in LA.

    If anyone here is willing to take a look at the video, I will send you a link in a private message. The video is only a few minutes long. Any help I can get through this forum will be tremendously appreciated, and thank you for your time, and consideration thus far.

    Below is the statement I sent to my insurance company at the time:

    -------

    Hello *****;

    Here are pictures and a summary of the accident on Sun 3/6:

    I was driving my dark grey Toyota Yaris out of my alley as I do every day. I stopped and looked both ways at the sidewalk, and then creeped forward in order to see the roadway. It's hard to see, so I was pulling out extremely slowly. There was also a tall jeep-like vehicle parked at the edge, away from the corner, making it extra hard to see (pics A & B).

    Cars always have to creep out of alleyways on these narrow back streets. There's no other way, aside from getting out and putting up cones. Anyone driving and paying attention slows down, or veers slightly to make room for them. But in this instance, the Mercedes came full speed and smashed into me like a freight train, just when I got far enough to see what was coming.

    The other driver should've been able to see and avoid me, with the amount of space he had (see alley pic) which means one of two things: A) he was distracted/not paying attention, or B) was going much faster than he should've been.

    As I said, my car was blasted clear out of the Mercedes' path, into a half-spin. I might have done a full 180 but I hit a parked car and stopped there. The Mercedes that hit me stopped a good distance passed where I landed, so they didn't even have time to react. You can't drive that carelessly on these backstreets, because there are alleyways everywhere.

    I was extremely disoriented at first. I found myself looking in my trunk, but then realized it was my insurance info I needed, which was in the glove compartment. I didn't hit my head but felt dizzy and concussive. I was still in a state of shock when I called *** to report the claim.

    Here's something I forgot to mention on the phone as well; while we were exchanging information, the driver (****) asked me if I was pulling out of the alley, which clearly indicates that he didn't see me, so his eyes weren't on the road.

    I'm very confident that I didn't do anything wrong and I was not at fault. I don't know any other way to drive out of an alleyway other than to inch out until I see the roadway. So I just want to make sure that's very clear.

    Thank you very much for your time.
     
  2. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    UPDATE: I will actually try to upload my pics and video here this evening after work. Thanks again.
     
  3. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    It's your assertion they were speeding. Do you have evidence to back that up? It was entirely incumbent on you to make sure the way was clear rather than the drivers on the roadway having to "pay attention" to people entering from alleys. The presumption is that you ARE at fault. The fact that you claim you couldn't exit the alley without being able to see conflicting traffic, doesn't exonerate you, it demonstrates your recklessness.

    Since you appeared to be insured, let your insurer handle it. Provide the insurer whatever additional information they request or you think is relevent.
     
  4. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the reply. I don't really understand how I could be considered reckless in this scenario as I was just inching out very slowly in order to see what was on the road. when it is that blind, I don't know what else can be done except stopping the car, getting out to look, getting back in the car, and driving out? I was being as careful as I always am when I am pulling out of the alley. I was moving very very slowly.

    I'm not sure how to prove that they were speeding other than the photographs I took of the damage to each car when it happened. Nobody witnessed the accident. It's basically my word against theirs that they were speeding, unless my photographs help demonstrate how fast they were going. I'm just not an expert.

    Again, I would also love to show someone the video I made recently to show how hard it is to see anything without creeping forward, and how vulnerable you are if somebody is speeding.

    thanks again. I really appreciate your response. Just trying to see if there is anything that I can go on here to defend myself. But I do not feel that I was even being slightly reckless.

    I will upload pictures this evening and I would love to DM someone a link to the video I made to better illustrate the physical positioning of everything.
     
  5. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    Because YOU had the duty to not enter the road when there was conflicting traffic. The conflicting traffic doesn't have the duty to avoid you pulling in front of them.

    Again, it matters NOT how hard it is to see when creeping forward. That only makes matters worse for you. You have an absolute obligation to not enter the roadway that's not clear. The fact you KNEW you were doing it unsafely, just makes this intentionally reckless rather than merely negligent.

    Unless you can show that the opposing car was going so fast that it was impossible to detect, you're going to lose. Arguing that he should have been going at a speed to be able to avoid people unexpectedly and illegally entering the highway from the sides is not going to work.

    I don't need to see pictures.
     
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  6. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    If you can't see, then you shouldn't be pulling out.
     
  7. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Understood. I see what you are saying. It's just that I did NOT know I was being unsafe in any way. I was simply trying to get far enough to see, as anyone does pulling out of these alleys. Once I was at that point, I was smashed so hard and faster with no time to react. I think it could have happened to anyone in my position, and frequently does because of reckless drivers in my neighborhood, like the individual who hit me.

    That being said, I don't have any evidence other than photographs of the damage. I can't imagine that those pics would support my assertion that they were speeding, especially if my insurance company didn't use them to defend me (unless they didn't review everything, but I believe they did).

    But thanks again. This does help.
     
  8. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I understand that logic. I just don't really understand what people are expected to do. If I can't inch forward very slowly and lean by body forward for a clear view of the road before I pull out, then I can't pull out at all. Like I said, I would actually have to physically get out of my car walk out to see the road, get back in the car and then pull out. I didn't just pull out into the street blindly.

    but it sounds like it's going to be very hard to make my case without hard evidence that they were speeding and impossible for me to detect. That's basically what I wanted to know.

    Thank you
     
  9. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Then don't.

    That makes your decision easier.
    They can't take what you don't have. Odds are the other party is hoping you will settle.


    Are you being sued for personal injuries, or for damage to a vehicle?
    I believe personal injury claims must be filed within two years. You are beyond two years, so you may be able to argue the statute of limitations as a defense and have the matter dismissed.

    If you are being sued for damage to the vehicle I believe that has a 3 year limit. You did not indicate which month in 2016 this occurred, but again, you may be outside the limit.

    You need to determine exactly what damages you are being sued for. I encourage you to seek the advice of personal counsel. The auto insurance attorney is NOT your attorney.

    An initial meeting can be very inexpensive or even free.
     
  10. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    That's terrifying. Please stop driving.
     
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  11. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you very much for that input. Can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

    I did try to make an appointment with a local attorney for a free consultation, but they told me that if I don't suffer from injuries currently, that they can't help me. So I have to look for a firm that will.

    I believe they are suing me for personal injury, and vehicle damage was already covered in the $10,000 that was paid by the insurance. But I will look at the papers that I was served this evening and follow up.

    The accident took place on 3/6/2016. I believe we have until around July 21st to follow up with the other party.

    Thanks again
     
  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    This could potentially be backed up by the posted speed limit, the nature of the damage to the vehicles and the locations where they came to rest.
     
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  13. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    It is a right of way issue. The other vehicle had the right of way and you were entering into the roadway. You have a responsibility to make sure it is clear to enter, but as you described there were obstructions that make it difficult.
    Knowing that it was a blind entrance you might have used additional means to make sure it was clear.... Such as get out of the vehicle to look or have someone assist you. Of course nobody does that, but if you believe it is that dangerous, why not?

    That said, the other driver also had a responsibility to drive with due regard for others and to obey the speed limit and other laws... however the other driver was the one with the right of way, which puts the burden on you.
     
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  14. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    There are traffic accident investigators who can give expert opinions on such matters. It sounds to me that you have sufficient details. Just be prepared that they could also prove you wrong.
     
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  15. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If so, your defense against this may be very simple.

    We're you actually served something from the court that requires you to appear in court on a certain day at a certain time? You can check with the court clerk if you are unsure.

    That you have until July 21 to follow up suggests to me you have only received a fancy letter from an attorney asking you to pretty please pay lots of money.

    Which do you have? One is addressed by submitting information to the court, the other is addressed by extending one of your fingers.
     
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  16. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Since the OP would have 30 days from the date of service, a deadline of 7/21 is very realistic. Additionally, it's possible that the cased was filed on time and simply served a few months after filing. The OP needs to look very carefully at the paperwork that was received.
     
  17. Hawk99

    Hawk99 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Understood on your two previous replies. Thank you.

    What I was served was a full packet from the court telling me that I'm being sued for such and such amount. It didn't strike me as a simple letter from the other party's attorney, but I need to double check. I'm going to grab the papers from my apartment over my lunch break so I have more details handy, but I THINK this is from the court, requiring me to appear by a certain date.

    My insurance rep had them push the date of when we're required to follow up by about a month (to July 21st) and give us more time to negotiate. She keeps asking me how much I would be able to afford to pay in various scenarios, and IF I can afford anything.

    She said they're not being too agressive with their demands and showing flexibility if I can at least come up with "something" to pay them.

    Not sure what that might indicate, but I'll grab those papers ASAP to provide more details.

    Thank you
     
  18. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The law requires a driver to act ONLY if it is safe to proceed.

    You, however, knew from past experience the location to be dangerous.

    Possessing such knowledge, what YOU should do going forward is AVOID the intersection and find yourself a new, safer route.
     
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  19. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If the lawsuit resulted from a driving misadventure, you are required to IMMEDIATELY inform your insurer.

    Once you've told your insurer, further instructions will come from your insurer's legal beagles.

    From this point forward what you should refrain from doing is discussing any aspect of the alleged incident with anyone but your insurer or your insurer's lawyers.
     
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  20. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Earlier, it was suggested that the matter may be outside the statute of limitations. If it were, then I'm sure your insurance company would have made that clear.
     
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