Someone backed into my car while in a parking lot, while they backed out of their parking spot.
Her insurance paid for my repairs, and never mentioned I would be responsible for any costs, but now weeks later I’ve received a letter from her insurance billing me for 20%!
My belief is they got the final bill and realized it was high and want a way out of paying.
Her insurance is now claiming it’s 20% my fault because I “could have taken evasive action to prevent the accident.”
This seems extremely unrealistic, she backed into my rear fender, meaning they are saying they expected me to:
Magically know she was going to pull out of the spot without looking and hit me, and then speed up quickly to get out of her way, but that would mean I would have hit the car in front of me...
The other driver was clearly completely at fault though, as she was parked in a spot, and backed into my car due to not looking. She even admitted to being at fault and I have texts with her proving this.
What are my options to handling/fighting this? Is it legal for them to try to weasel out of this?
Also if I choose to fight this, will their bill go to collections & affect my credit score?
Stop worrying, and just turn this over to your car insurance carrier. They will handle it. If it goes any further than between the insurance companies, they will appoint an attorney for you and defend you. This is what you pay insurance premiums for.
The bad news is that California is what is called a “pure comparative negligence” state, which means that a driver can be assessed anywhere from 0% liability to 100% liability. The other party's insurance company believes it can prove that you were at least 20% negligent for this accident. The fact that this took place in a parking lot would probably favor the insurance company's assessment, as parking lot accidents in general can be problematic regarding liability and are a whole different kettle of fish, as normally the lines of demarcation for right-of-way can be fuzzy and most of the time there are no independent witnesses, so it can come down to a he-said-she-said situation.
Now, the good news is that you should simply allow your auto insurance carrier to handle this. This is the very reason you have been paying insurance premiums. Your auto insurance carrier will indemnify and defend you up to the limits of your liability policy. The fact that the other party's insurance company has already paid you 100% will be a favorable point for your insurance carrier to use. Let your insurance company work for you.
Please do not message me for further advice. If you are in need of an attorney to assist you, please search for another attorney in the jurisdiction involved in your case, as I am now retired, and my former law firm is no longer handling these types of cases. I am active on AVVO and answer questions only as a public service at this point.
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