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What does "Damages" mean?

Discussion in 'Auto Accidents, Injuries' started by PeteySkiff, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. PeteySkiff

    PeteySkiff Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I was recently involved in a car accident, and got a letter from Chepov & Scott(Link to their page here about them "Prosecuting" against me for a "Damages claim", and to send the letter to my insurer. My question is, simply, what does this mean? Is this a personal injuries claim or a property damage claim(Noone was injured at the crash), and why didn't they just send it straight to my insurance?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I edited out the link because links are often spam. Assuming your questions are otherwise legit:

    1 - The law firm is accusing you of causing the accident.
    2 - The law firm is threatening to sue you if you don't pay.
    3 - The use of the word "prosecute" is designed to scare you.
    4 - "Damages" are the cost to repair the vehicle and/or compensate for injuries.
    5 - It could be both property damage and personal injury but more likely that the property damage has already been taken care of and it's the injury that is in question.
    6 - The reason you got the letter is because you are the party to the claim. Now it's up to you to relay the letter to your insurance company for handling.
    7 - As for "no one injured at the crash" it is common for injuries to manifest themselves days later.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    Assuming I even bothered to open it, I would have deposited this letter in the trash before I finished reading it. Problem solved.
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    What does what mean? We obviously haven't read the letter, but it sounds like the other person involved in the accident has retained an attorney to seek payment of whatever damages were suffered by the other person (e.g., personal injuries, damage to the car, etc.).

    Well...if no one was injured, then it should be obvious that it's not a personal injury claim. However, is it possible that the other driver involved disagrees that no one was injured?

    Ultimately, who cares? But the answer is probably because the lawyer wants you to know what's happening since you're the target of the claim. Send the letter to your insurer and let your insurer do its job.

    That would have resolved precisely zero problem and would have jeopardized your insurance coverage.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    When you call the law firm if you REALLY want to know why the lawyer contacted you and in lieu of your insurer, you can ask.

    I can guess WHY, but you probably know.

    As suggested by adjusterjack, it is in your best interests to contact your insurer (or agent) no later than COB today and seek guidance.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Took the words right out of my keyboard.
     
  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    Don't be silly. Only a sucker would acknowledge receipt of such a letter. If the sender wants to be taken seriously there are better ways to go about it.
    As described, this letter does not merit a response. This is an attempt to get a sucker fish to bite.
     
    army judge likes this.
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    What's silly?

    That throwing the letter in the trash -- as you suggested -- would not resolve any problems? That's certainly true. Throwing away what appears to be a legitimate demand letter would solve no problems whatsoever? Please explain what problems you think it would solve.

    Or maybe you think it's "silly" that throwing away the letter (and failing to notify the insurance carrier of the demand) could jeopardize the OP's insurance coverage. Please explain why you think that's silly. Please include a discussion about the standard provision in auto liability policies that expressly requires insureds to notify their insurers about things like this. You might also want to include citations to Illinois case law discussing the circumstances in which insureds lose their coverage by failing to report claims in a timely manner.

    So, no, it's not "silly" to suggest that throwing away the letter would be a bad idea.

    "Only a sucker would acknowledge receipt of such a letter." How so?

    What are the "better ways" for the sender "to be taken seriously"? Certainly suing would get taken more seriously, but how does burying one's head in the sand and forcing litigation benefit the OP? I've been sending demand letters and suing people for nearly 30 years, and I can assure you that the folks who take the letters seriously fare far better, on the whole, than those who ignore the letters and force litigation.

    No, it's an opportunity to settle early and on the cheap. Ignoring it would be beyond silly. And, in any event, it's up to the OP's insurer to decide if the letter merits a response.
     
  9. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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  10. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    This one:

    Presumably you were referring to the same letter that the OP mentioned in the original post (a demand letter from a law firm representing the other driver involved in the accident).
     
  11. PeteySkiff

    PeteySkiff Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. So basically what happened is that the damages are 2,500 above what my insurance covers. My question is now whether this will come out of my personal assets(Which I'm more than capable of paying), or if the money comes out of his underinsured driver coverage. And if I do have to pay, do I resolve this out of court(I really don't want this to go to court)?
     
  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry you missed the point. Some letters are worthy of response. The one described here likely is not.
    The OP could simply not acknowledge receipt of any letter until the sender resorts to more formal action, if at all.
     
  13. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    If they pursue you in court or reach a settlement with you then it could come from your assets. It depends how they choose to proceed.
    I suggest you do nothing at all until something occurs that compels you to act.
     
  14. PeteySkiff

    PeteySkiff Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Shouldn't I start consulting with an attorney?
     
  15. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    I think you're the one who missed the point. You suggested that the letter should have been trashed. That's a problem as it relates to insurance coverage. And, as I said, whether the letter warrants a response is for the OP's insurer to decide.

    Several things are important to understand.

    If you get sued and lose, you're liable for 100% of the other driver's damages. Your insurance owes you a duty of indemnity and will pay any judgment up to the limit of your policy. If that's not enough to cover the entire judgment, then you'll have to pay it out of pocket.

    If the other driver happens to have uninsured/underinsured motorist ("UM/UIM") coverage, then that coverage would pay the other driver for any portion of the damages not covered by your insurance. However, (1) that wouldn't get you off the hook because the other driver's insurer would subrogate to its insured's rights against you, so you'd have to pay back the other driver's insurer; and (2) UM/UIM coverage is commonly available for personal injuries but is comparatively rare for property damage.

    Your insurer owes you a duty to try and settle any claim within the limits of your policy.

    Lastly, sounds like you should give serious consideration to increasing your liability coverage limits.

    No. Turn this over to your insurance carrier. This is why you have auto insurance. If it is necessary to obtain an attorney, your insurer will hire one. That's a significant part of what you buy when you carry liability insurance.

    And, I'll say it in no uncertain terms. Sitting by and ignoring this and waiting to be sued would be phenomenally stupid.
     
  16. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    That's up to you.
    Personally, based on the information provided, I wouldn't be concerned with it yet.
     
  17. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    What letter?

    Sounds like a letter that should have been sent to the insurer.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but only a small fraction of mail I receive is opened, and even less makes it beyond the first trash can I come to. I certainly wouldn't ignore anything that arrived with a delivery confirmation or any official court documents though.
     
  18. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If I were you, I'd never admit to being at fault.

    If you admit to being the cause of the collision, that will be counted as an at fault accident.

    It is one thing to be adjudicated guilty after a trial, but it is madness to confess to something someone should be required to prove.

    Yes, talking to a couple lawyers won't be harmful.

    At a minimum, you'll learn somethings that might assist you in your defense.

    Be advised, your insurer is being paid by you to defend you, not help convict you.

    If the other party sues you, your insurance company will supply you wit a lawyer to protect you and the insurance company.
     
  19. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I never sign for anything, that I am NOT expecting and didn't order.

    I am only required to respond to a summons or subpoena that is properly served.

    I have very little interest in unsolicited snail mail, and treat it as I do internet spam.
     

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