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I was in a car accident. the other guy slammed on his brakes in the middle of an intersection causing me to hit him.

San Diego, CA |

we agreed to handle it outside of insurance and exchanged names and phone numbers. he then went and got the repairs done and says that i owe him $1000. the only picture i have of the damage on his car is on a phone that doesn't work. there was no damage done to my car. what can i do? and yes i know we should have involved insurance, but there's nothing i can do about that now. can he sue me?

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Attorney answers 4


I am licensed in Nevada, but this answer should apply in California as well.

I would ask that you be given a copy of any photos taken of the car after the accident and as well as a copy of the repair bill to prove the amount as well as the parts that were repaired to see if they make sense. For instance, if the only impact was to the rear of his car and he had his front bumper repaired you should not pay for that.

Yes. He can sue you. You should consider filing a claim with your insurance carrier as soon as possible so that they can step in and pay or defend you as you have paid them to do. It's likely that you are contractually liable to report any accidents (or claims) to your insurer in the policy.

I'm thinking maybe this accident isn't your fault since you said "the other guy slammed on his brakes in the middle of the intersection causing me to hit him." While it was your duty to keep a safe distance, it was his duty to drive in a reasonable manner. If he slammed on his brakes to avoid a child bolting out into the street, then he would not be liable. However, if, for some reason, he remember that he was heading the wrong way and slammed on his brakes because he realized he needed to turn at the last second (or was going to turn without a signal, but realized it was not safe to do so at the last second), then he may bear at least some of the responsibility.

I'm showing California as a pure comparative negligence state. What this means is that if he was 10% at fault for slamming on his brakes in the middle of the intersection, he should bear 10% of the costs for his own repairs as well as 10% of costs for your damages if there had been any.

If he does choose to sue and his damages are limited to the property damage (as opposed to including personal injury damages), then it would be a Small Claims Court case as it is within that Court's monetary jurisdiction.

Hope this helps.

/s Donald Kudler


Yes, he can sue you. I would advise reporting this to your insurance company immediately, as you probably have a contractual obligation to report all vehicle accidents anyway. Better to report now rather than after you are sued (if it comes to that).

Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the state of California only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to that state. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.


State law requires you to report damage exceeding $750 to the DMV within 10 days of the accident.

Further, as other counsel have recommended, you should report this accident to your insurer. If you do not want them to pay on the claim tell them you are reporting it for "informational purposes only" and that you expect to handle payment of repairs yourself. This is important to protect yourself in the event the other driver does sue and alleges greater damages. People report claims late quite often.

Regarding liability yes you can be sued. While the other driver has a duty to operate his vehicle in a safe manner, so do you. Hitting the vehicle in front of you generally indicates an unsafe following distance or a distracted driver. Without an explanation as to why the other driver made the sudden braking maneuver it is hard to fully address liability.

As to the $1,000 repair figure, it is not hard to do that level of damage to modern cars. Bumper facias alone can exceed that amount.

Good luck.


Yes he can sue you. Doesn't sound like anyone was injured. You may be found liable as you rear-ended him - that is not (at least initially) a good sign for you (need more facts to determine if that is the case). Try negotiating the $1,000 down. By the way: nowadays it doesn't take much to generate $1,000 in vehicle damage.

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