AlDente67

Parking lot accident, confused.

40 posts in this topic

So last August, the wife got clipped by another car, and now we received a legal packet whereby the clipper is suing the wife in county court.  I tried to find information about fault online, but to no avail in this situation.  And yes, I could consult with a lawyer, but the costs associated would not be an avenue I want to go through now.  So let me run this by y'all and see what you feel...

 

Wife was parked in a legal space at a supermarket.  Car off.  She was gathering stuff and began to exit her car.  Directly to the left, in an empty spot, another car zipped in and collided with her partially open door just before she had it all the way open, thus creasing the edge of the door a bit.  According to the plantiff, she had no time to avoid hitting my wife's door because it began to open so abruptly, and she should have been looking to see if anyone was pulling in before starting to open the door.  There were no witnesses, so it was a she said/she said situation to the cop who showed up to write the report.

The plantiff claims my wife was 100% at fault, and is suing for $1600, per the damage estimate at a body shop.  There is a lengthy list of components involved, which seems a bit over the top for a 2009 Hyundai, but I digress.  Given the angles involved, my gut feeling is that my wife's door could only have been opened about a third of what you normally need to get out of the car, making me think the other driver swung in at a good clip very near to the line (these are average size parking spaces).  I wasn't there, so I can only speculate.  But i always thought a moving vehicle hitting a parked vehicle is a no-brainer, but I guess I am mistaken.

The woman had a $1000 deductible, she paid that portion (assuming she actually had the work done there) and the remainder covered by her insurance, yet she is claiming the gross amount as a settlement.

Some flags pop into my head...   What law firms take on cases for what is essentially a small-claims court amount?  How do we know she wasn't using this as an opportunity to repair (or at least cash a check for) any pre-existing damage?   Does this woman have a history of such claims? 

All I can find online are your more typical backing out and colliding, where the law is clear.

And another tidbit in the package was a thorough check with various government agencies to verify if my wife is or was a military veteran.  She never was or is, and never claimed to be.  Not sure what angle that is, but the lawyer apparently spent some time on this case ( a newark firm).  Surely they need a sizeable contingency fee for their efforts.

It is all just baffling to me, and I am automatically suspicious.

The lawyer's filing requests that the court issue a summary judgement, but I assume the court would inform us of an actual court date to appear and contest.  They don't just say "ok boss, we shall"

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Wasn't there another thread not too long ago regarding a similar situation?  What a shitty situation...  I hope it works out to your wife's favor.

The other driver sounds like a complete tool.  If you're pulling into a parking space, how fast do you need to be going that you can't step on the brakes?  I've had plenty of instances of people exiting their cars as I'm trying to pull in and nothing bad has ever happened... not even remotely close...  

When I was involved in a he said/she said minor collision a while back, I was advised by the officers to head down to the station and write out my own report even though an officer had already completed his paperwork at the scene.  This helped tremendously in court

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Yes, the cop produced a single page report with a little drawing of her car at an angle pointing into my wife's car as it was parking normally, with comments by both parties.  W e don't have that company any longer, so I doubt they would entertain it that far retrocatively.  Plus our deductible would also come into play.

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16 minutes ago, 1LtCAP said:

a driver should be in control of their vehicle. if she hit your wife's door......she was not in control

Being in control works both ways. A driver is responsible for ANY safe operation of the vehicle. This includes safely opening doors into traffic.

 

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44 minutes ago, T Bill said:

As you stated the car was legally parked. Was an accident report filled out? If so, turn it over to the insurance company, they will handle it.

 

27 minutes ago, T Bill said:

Doesn't matter you were insured by them at the time of the accident. You paid them to handle claims.

 

26 minutes ago, PK90 said:

Your wife was at fault. You can't prove speed. Why was not your insurance company involved from the start?

This is what happens when people don't want to report accidents to their insurance companies.

You need to contact the insurance company you had at the time.  Most likely somewhere in that policy is a time requirement for you to report the accident to the company.

My daughter had a similar accident a few years ago.  No injuries.  A he said/she said case.  Both reported to their insurance companies.  My daughter's company paid her damage and the other driver's company paid theirs.  Not worth the effort or expense for either company to argue with one another.

That's how your situation most likely would have been resolved if you had reported it at the time of the accident.  8 months later with lawyers and courts involved your insurance company may not have any liability to represent you.  You won't know until you contact them.

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22 minutes ago, Sniper22 said:

Being in control works both ways. A driver is responsible for ANY safe operation of the vehicle. This includes safely opening doors into traffic.

 

She did not open the door into traffic, she opened it into an empty parking spot.

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This is what happens when people don't want to report accidents to their insurance companies.
You need to contact the insurance company you had at the time.  Most likely somewhere in that policy is a time requirement for you to report the accident to the company.
My daughter had a similar accident a few years ago.  No injuries.  A he said/she said case.  Both reported to their insurance companies.  My daughter's company paid her damage and the other driver's company paid theirs.  Not worth the effort or expense for either company to argue with one another.
That's how your situation most likely would have been resolved if you had reported it at the time of the accident.  8 months later with lawyers and courts involved your insurance company may not have any liability to represent you.  You won't know until you contact them.


Agreed about reporting. I had two issues over the years, one in a parking lot the other in town. I immediately went to my Statefarm agent and gave them all the details telling them I did not want to make a claim but wanted them to have it on record if anything ever became of it. In both cases nothing was ever perused and it has no impacts on rates.
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Just now, PK90 said:

Your wife was at fault. You can't prove speed.

Actually, using this newfangled science called physics, speed can be determined pretty accurately

Conversely, the other driver can't prove speed either.  She can say the door flung open, but she can't prove it..

 

Just now, AlDente67 said:

another car zipped in and collided with her partially open door just before she had it all the way open, thus creasing the edge of the door a bit. 

I'm a bit confused.  Did the car hit the door on the outside panel or on the edge (where you'd find the door latch) and pushed it open too far?

If the other driver hit the door on the outside, while your wife's car door was partially open, that means the other driver was at an acute angle to the empty space.

Just now, AlDente67 said:

Given the angles involved, my gut feeling is that my wife's door could only have been opened about a third of what you normally need to get out of the car,

So, how far open was the door before the other driver pulled in?

 

I would find out if the suit (case) has actually been filed in county court.  This may be a BS phishing scheme by some shyster to sweat you for a settlement.  If it has not been filed, I would do nothing, not even send a reply to the shyster.

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I am not a lawyer, but I believe Small Claims Court is still free of charge.

Call the court in your county and ask for details on what you can legally do through small claims

Try to get them into court before they get you in; this way if you are found to be in the right a president

was set in court. If you were found in the wrong, you pay and they can't sue you again because of Double Jeopardy.......

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I think you're being scammed.  The law firm is probably real but some lawyers run scams under the guise of defending the innocent.

You'll be approached about settling out of court.  They aren't interested in going to court for $1,600.  The lawyer won't make enough to actually do any prep work and to show up.   But the lawyer will get a few hundred if they send you a few automated threatening letters and convince you to just settle for $800 to make this go away. I doubt that any attorney even saw this.  The other driver got a form letter from this law firm telling them there would be big money if they called the 1-800 phone number.  They plugged the info from the police report into the computer and that computer will send you threatening letters until they finally offer to settle - to go easy on you.

You need to respond to everything because part of the scam is to get you to miss deadlines, fail to file the proper paperwork, etc. 

As for court - right and wrong won't have much to do with it.  Unless it's wildly obvious who's at fault, the judge won't have any interest in trying to figure it out.  He's got a stack of cases and the less time he spends trying to figure out yours,  the sooner he gets to go golfing. 

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Be thankful if a scam this is a cheap one.  Much better than the one where they slam their brakes on so you crash into them and then sue for whiplash and all sorts of other stuff.  If these people just put as much effort into honest work they would be much better off.

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I am not a lawyer, but I believe Small Claims Court is still free of charge.

Call the court in your county and ask for details on what you can legally do through small claims

Try to get them into court before they get you in; this way if you are found to be in the right a president

was set in court. If you were found in the wrong, you pay and they can't sue you again because of Double Jeopardy.......

 

One small claims case will unlikely set precedent involving their suit.

 

Two double jeopardy only applies to criminal cases.

 

Three I think this maybe a scam, or it is a scare tactic. Was the there any actual filings? Or was there just a letter received from an attorney?

 

Finally If real contact your insurance company you had at the time first.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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16 hours ago, GRIZ said:

Zeke, not sure about this now but in the olden days we didn't write tickets for property damage only accidents on private property.

@High Exposure what do they do now?

 

Comes down to each individual agency, but in my agency if we can determine fault we'll issue. There are only a few title 39 statutes that can be written on private property though, so it'll normally be a careless. Based on what the OP described of the incident, I would likely leave it a he said/she said and unable to determine fault. 

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19 hours ago, Fred2 said:

She did not open the door into traffic, she opened it into an empty parking spot.

Was there a moving vehicle in that parking spot? Apparently it wasn't empty, otherwise she wouldn't have experienced any damage.

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My wife had a very close thing happen to her. Involved my wife and my cousin. 

My wife had her door opened up putting her pocket book inside the 4Runner, they kissed and my cousin got in her H3 and drove off. Taking my wife’s door with her. H3 has those bump out for the wheel wells. 

We argued for a few weeks. Strained the relationship for sure and eventually ended badly. 

I called my Allstate agent and asked advise. She told me it’s a he said/ she said. We ended up splitting all damage down the middle. 

 

Id simply hand it into the insurance company. They were likely aware of it since a report was made. They could also deny because they weren’t notified 

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A couple things. Report all accidents to insurance companies no matter how small.
Anything that happens with a car today is over $500 so file a police report. (You did that which is good.)

The law firm sent you a letter on the cheap as a fishing expedition most likely. Its not worth going to court over. (The inflated number is a negotiation technique called anchoring. You now will typically respond with a number higher than you would have otherwise be cause the opening number was higher.) This leaves the law firm with some most to pay their client and whatever person wrote the package up.

You got asked about veteran status because NJ has a statue that you can't move for default judgement against anyone active in the armed forces. This gives the opposing attorney an easy means to verify this and proceed with court and a default judgement should you not respond.

Bottom line. Call your insurance company said see if you can still get coverage and legal protection. Do not ignore the letter else you'll get hit for default judgement and whatever legal fees they want to claim.


Good luck.

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I`d say scam, the other driver was reckless in their attempt to park the vehicle .

Sue them for reckless endangerment , loss of consort, and vehicle damages

Moving vehicle strikes a parked vehicle , moving  drivers fault

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