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Friend totaled my car. There is contested liability. Is my friend responsible for the replacement cost of my car?

Richmond, VA |

My friend states she had a green arrow to make a left hand turn, the driver that hit her states she had the green light too. There were no witnesses and no one got a ticket. Clearly someone is lying. I only had liability insurance on my vehicle. The other drivers insurance is denying responsibility and my friends policy is also refusing responsiblity. I'm left with a totaled car and no one wants to accept responsibility! Shouldn't someone have to pay to replace my vehicle?

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Attorney answers 8


It would appear that your friend would be responsible for the damages you had suffered, unless you can establish that the other party was at fault. Now, collecting from your friend may be a challenge.


Depending on the amount to repair the damages, bring an action in small claims court where you sue both drivers. The court will render a verdict which will hold one or the other, or even both liable, but you will get your money back whichever way it turns out.



I cannot prove who was at fault for the accident because I was not present when it occurred. I was told (from a non-lawyer) that Would I have to prove that one of the two vehicles were at fault in order to recoup the cost of my property loss? Because there is simply no way for me to prove anything other than accident occured. However, if nothing else my friend should be responsible. I trusted her with my property and it came back to me destroyed.

Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer


First, if not already done, get the police report, which should contain information about the accident and an indication as to who is at fault. Also, take pictures of the intersection. You will need these items for the Small Claims Court action. Secondly, if you commence the action, and both drivers appear, you and/or the court can ask questions of those parties which will likely point to the culprit which, again, can be one of the drivers or even both. If one or both drivers do not appear on the appointed court date, you would get a "default judgment". Keep in mind that even if both drivers claim to have had the right of way vis a vis a "green light", both can't be right. And even if both did have a green light, the law generally requires a driver to be observant and to avoid an accident if at all possible - in many jurisdictions this is called the "last clear chance" doctrine or rule. Thus, even if I had a green light, it does not mean I can refuse to give way to another negligent driver if doing so would avoid an accident. While a plaintiff does have the burden in the first instance to prove that a defendant is at fault, the realization is that 2 cars do not collide unless at least one of the parties was careless. Also, judges/arbitrators in small claims courts usually do not strictly apply rules of evidence, which should be helpful to you.


Not the replacement, but likely the repair value and/or fair market value of the vehicle. Best of luck

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One of the other of them is responsible for the accident, so one of them will be responsible to pay for your vehicle damage. The measure of damages for your car is the cost of repair or, if totalled, the fair market value of your vehicle


Whoever is at fault for the accident is responsible for your damages.

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One or the other of these drivers is responsible. The problem will be getting them pay. The other driver's insurance company is disputing liability so the only way to deal with them is to sue their driver. If your friend is at fault, then you could sue your friend but this seems like a difficult thing to do as well.


Cost of repair or FMV. If the amount is low, small claims court.


You should immediately consult with a local attorney. While I practice in Florida, my number is 407-883-2618.

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