I have a legal question about a rear end accident?

by admin on October 6, 2010

simply stated, I was rear ended in an accident. I was cited for "unsafe cutting in while passing." I was not familiar with the law in regards to rear end auto accidents. I believed him to be at fault for not allowing enough room and figured he would have been the one cited. So I showed up for court and plead not guilty to the citation, I then sat down with the city prosecutor and had the citation dismissed. I thought all was well and good, so I contacted the other parties insurance informing them that I had my ticket dismissed, and believed their driver was at fault for the accident and should pay the claim. They informed me that they had just sent a letter to me, ironically on the same day as my court appearance, that says they denied me any compensation.

SO….now that I got the ticket dismissed, and proved that I was not at fault I want the insurance company to pay. It seems like everyone I have talked to said that I only have one option, and that is to sue in small claims court.

Is that my only option….I proved that I was not at fault! I don’t want to wait months and months for a small claims judgement that will not be payed, I will then have to go back to court for garnishment, this is a 20 year old kid, garnishment is the only way I’m going to see any money. On top of that I will be driving a wrecked car(possibly, hasn’t happened yet) getting pulled over once a month by any cop that just wants to pull me over because of the way my back end looks. If it gets to that I will have to find a different vehicle to drive. Everyone thinks that car accidents are about personal injury, and tons of money….I JUST WANT MY CAR FIXED.

What options do I have now? Can I go after the other parties insurance company for not paying a legitimate claim of liability? Would it be worth a lawyers time to pursue this?
O.k. let me add some details.

I do have insurance in WI, only liability…same as the other driver.

Getting my ticket dismissed discredited the officers opinion of the accident, good as not my fault in my book…the other driver was not citied for anything. My opinion of the incident is that I legally passed him, got fully back into the right lane, and believe he didn’t maintain his speed and intended to tailgate or pass me after I passed him. He failed to watch the road as I was slowing down to the speed limit, in my opinion. The officer has his too. I didn’t cut him off, as the officer stated in the report. Again the ticket was dismissed. I am not hiding or leaving out details that would effect user answers
Again, I see where we are all coming from, and thank everyone for their input.

I agree I should have been charged for speeding, that I could have not fought, I am guilty of that, why the officer failed to cite me for that, I have no idea.

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MSAD October 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Getting the ticket dismissed does not prove you were not at fault. Just means you don’t have to pay a traffic fine. The insurance company does have to pay you just because you got a ticket dismissed.

Did the other driver get a ticket? Since you don’t mention that- I would assume not.

The insurance company did an investigation and determined that their driver is not at fault. They are fully with in their rights to do that. As long as they did a proper investigation – they are on solid ground. And in most states, you would not have a cause of action against the other guys insurance for bad faith. Very few states recognize 3rd party bad faith.

If you were charged with "unsafe cutting in while passing" – that sounds to me like you were passing another car and then changed lanes in front of him and stopping -cutting off his stopping distance. At any rate, this is not the clear simple rear end collision you are wanting us to believe it is.

If you have collision coverage on your vehicle -then file a claim with that. Your company will do their own investigation. If they agree with you that you are not at fault for this accident then they will try to get paid back by the other company.

Fig Newton October 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Don’t you have insurance for your car? File a claim with your insurance and let them go after the other driver. Their insurance isn’t going to give you the time of day. Worst case scenario is that your insurance pays for your car to be fixed and all you are out is the deductible.

A lawyer is probably going to cost you more than the claim is worth but it wouldn’t hurt to get a consult. You’re right about the small claims court. Even if you win it isn’t going to fix your car. You might not win because it might be ruled a no-fault accident depending on the state where this occurred. In this case you’re both at fault and you each pay for your own property.

the kid October 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm

"believed him to be at fault for not allowing enough room" – apparently you are not aware that when changing lanes, the person ALREADY IN THE LANE has right of way. So even if the ticket was dismissed, you are still at fault (the ticket doesn’t prove/disprove fault).

StephenWeinstein October 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm

If you attempt to go after the other party’s insurance company without suing the driver, you will lose.

If you sue the driver, and you win, then the insurance company of that driver will pay, after you win against the driver in court. You will not need to go back to court for garnishment. The insurance company will pay, but only after you sue the driver and win.

Getting a ticket dismissed does not mean that you proved that you were not at fault. It means only that the government did not prove that you broke the law. The traffic court that decides whether to dismiss the ticket does not address the issue of whether there was no proof or there was proof that you were right, it merely decides whether there was proof that you were wrong. Usually, when a ticket is dismissed, it is because there is no proof either way. Also, if both drivers obeyed the law, then the ticket should still be dismissed; you can be at fault even if you are not guilty of the charges.

There are five possible situations in which the ticket would be dismissed, only one of which involves proof that you were not at fault, and that one is the least likely of the four:

1. No proof either way of whether you were guilty or not guilty of the offense for which you were charged.
2. Proof that you were not guilty of the offense for which you were charged, but no proof of who was at fault.
3. Proof that you were not guilty of the offense for which you were charged, but were at fault for some other reason
4. Proof that you were guilty, but some technical or procedural problem that caused the dismissal
5. Proof that you were not at fault

If you were "slowing down to the speed limit" as you claim, then you must have been driving faster than the speed limit, and should have been given a ticket for that.

Getting a ticket dismissed does not discredit the officer’s opinion; it merely means that opinion was not proven. It does not mean that it was disproven, and it certainly does not mean that your opinion was proven.

mbrcatz October 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm

If you cut in while passing and slammed on your brakes, it cannot be his fault as there wasn’t TIME for him to slow down and allow more room before you slammed on your brakes.

Tickets do NOT determine fault – so if you were cited at the scene, fought the ticket and won, that does NOT make the other guy at fault! The opinion of the police officer was STILL that you were at fault, if the other guy wasn’t cited and you were. Having that ticket dismissed does NOT NOT NOT "prove that you were not at fault". Faulty premise!

Small claims court is your only recourse, if you do not carry collision insurance on your car. You’d want to report this to your insurance, too – because if the other guy puts a claim in on his policy, for his damage, HIS insurance company is going to come after YOU for reimbursement.

Since you BOTH have insurance, whoever wins in small claims court, their INSURANCE will pay the damages. You will NOT be stuck with an unpaid judgement.

Your opinion of "ticket dismissed means not your fault" is NOT legally binding, and not correct, either. Legally passing isn’t the issue – getting back in his lane, too close to him, and THEN hitting your brakes, that’s the problem. The way you describe it to me, sure DOES sound like you cut him off. You pulled in front of him too closely, hit your brakes, causing the rear end accident. You were cited, not him. I think you’ll lose this case in small claims court, and I don’t think you have any other options.

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