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Simple traffic collision, maybe not so simple.

Los Angeles, CA |

My wife was driving westbound on a 2 lane busy street when a driver of a parked vehicle opened his door and broke the mirror from our car.
CA vehicle code 22517 seems to place liability fully on the other vehicle. However the other driver requested we contact his insurance. I did so and unfortunately his insurance (Geico) is siding with him as he told them he had his rear door open to put something in his vehicle. They suggest he did so safely and did not impede traffic (clearly a lie) and will not pay our damages.
He had a passenger who left into a store while my wife and he were exchanging info as there was no damage to their vehicle. Obviously she'd likely support him. What options do I have to get them to pay?
I haven't contacted my insurance because I thought it was clear cut.

Add: Is it worthwhile to contact our insurance as there's no damage to his vehicle and negligible (<$200) damage to ours? We have a $1,000 deductible. Naturally I'm worried about increased premiums and a fault on the wifes record.

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Attorney answers 5


It's not clear cut. It comes down to who had the last clear chance to avoid the collision. Report it to your insurance company, they're supposed to have your interests in mind (as well as their own) in their attempts to get the other driver's insurance company to accept liability.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Your other alternative would be to file an action in Small Claims Court against the driver and owner of the other vehicle. You will have to prove the other party was at fault.


You should probably pursue the matter as a small claims complaint against him. Let the judge decide the merits of both arguments and, hopefully, you will win and get a judgment against him. Neither of you will be allowed to have an attorney represent you so you will be on "equal footing". His adjuster will also not be allowed to show up and/or participate. If you prevail, it will be much more likely that his insurance carrier will just pay the claim.


A witness statement would help.


I would say that for $200 damages no legal case is worth it. If it is a matter of principle then small claims court is the answer.

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