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If me and another driver say fault lies with a non-contact driver (rear ended auto accident) in accident report do i have to pay

Albertville, AL |

On a busy highway, the car in front of me slammed on her brakes to keep from hitting another car that pulled out in front of her. I did also and tried to move into the turning lane, but still hit her car. We both told the police that another vehicle caused the accident and that's reflected in the report. Now I have received a letter from a collections company (less than 30 days after the accident) saying I owe them $2899 right now and may owe more later. At the scene we both agreed that neither of us was at fault, and this is in the report. Will the report be sufficient evidence to dispute the claim against me? The non-contact driver was at fault, causing extenuating circumstances.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

You are not going to like this but you ARE at fault. (That is not to say that the other unnamed driver didn't cause the accident) You have a responsibility to stay far enough behind the car in front of you that you can come to a stop without hitting her if she stops dead in her tracks. A safe way to measure this time is to count 2 Mississippi (assuming you are going no more than 55mph in a regular size car). If you are going faster or are in a bigger vehicle (or both) you have to add a couple Mississippi to the count to be sure you can stop.

As for the agreement you have with the other driver, neither she nor you are experts in traffic safety and rules, her opinion will carry no weight.

Given the amount of damage being claimed, it might be a good idea to see an attorney who handles Personal Injury Defense or Insurance Defense. You can find quite a few right here on Avvo.

Good luck.

This answer does not, nor is it intended to, create an attorney-client relationship or constitute attorney advertising. Rather, it is offered solely for information purposes. Since the facts of each case are different, it is critical to consult with qualified counsel with whom information can be shared and assessed under an attorney-client privilege, so that competent advice can be obtained on which you can make informed decisions.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

Thank you. Now, what about the letter coming from a "collections agency" so soon after the accident? The insurance company never contacted me. Also, what do you think about the letter saying I may owe more later? That doesn't sound normal to me. If the car had been repaired, they know the total costs. Surely they can't just have an open ended claim, right?

Anthony John Colleluori

Anthony John Colleluori

Posted

Correct. I would not pay a dime to a collection agency. To begin there is no judgment against you. YOu pay nothing until you have seen the bills AND you are provided with a release from the owner of the vehicle and the lien holder (if there is one) to hold in escrow. Finally it seems you should have reported this to your insurance company. Did you? if not do it immediately and let them work all this out. Good luck.

Posted

I agree with Mr. Corlelluori -- you will most likely be found responsible for the collision due to failure to mainatain safe distance from the other vehicle. My only admonishion is to report the loss to yuor insurance carrier and have them defend and, if they so decide, indemnify you in this matter.

This communication is not legal advice: no documents or facts were examined. This does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. The above is a common sense response to the limited question facts you provided.

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Posted

If you haven't already you need to report the accident to your car insurer. Most states have rules of the road that apply in these situations. Generally, you should maintain a safe distance behind the car you are following to allow you to avoid a collision. Also, in many states there is an car accident investigation privilege which makes the police report itself, as well as any statements made to the police during their accident investigation, inadmissible in court. The statements made between the drivers, rather than to the police, may be admissible. Bottom line, you should let your insurance company sort this out. Good luck to you.

The information provided by me should not be considered legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed to practice law in Florida and you should consult with an attorney in your area for legal advice. The information exchanged on avvo.com is not privileged and you should not share confidential information over this forum.

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Posted

I cannot necessarily agree with all the responses. In Alabama, we have what is called "contributory negligence", and therefore, if the car in front of you was one percent (1%) at fault, she cannot recover. Another question I have is who is attempting to collect from you? Her insurance carrier? I would write them and let them know that she was not paying proper attention to the car which pulled out.

Additionally, were there any injuries? If so, you have an uninsured motorist claim. A phantom vehicle is considered an uninsured motorist in Alabama.

I hope this helps.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

Mr. Lewis, this occured in Alabama. I'm not quite sure who is trying to collect. The letter said it was a collection company BUT, the wreck occured on nov. 23 and I received the letter last week. That seems awful quick for a collection company to have it considering the insurance company never contacted me. I had thought it was over when we both told the police that it was the "phantom car's" fault. I thought the police report is what decided who was at fault and it reflects that we both said it was neither of us. I think the insurance company has an in-house collection agency to scare people. There were no injuries to either of us and minimal to the vehicles. I just have a small dent in my front bumper.

Jon Ethan Lewis

Jon Ethan Lewis

Posted

Without seeing the letter or knowing more, it's hard to say. The police report is inadmissible because he/she did not witness the wreck. It is simply the officer's investigation of what he found AFTER the wreck.

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