Legal Question in Insurance Law in California

I receive a phone call from a neighbor saying that I hit his car while backing out of a driveway and that I needed to come back and exchange insurance or he would report it as a hit and run. I had no knowledge of such an incident, but agreed to come and take a look. By the time I returned the man was not home. I spoke to his wife who showed me damage on their car that could not have possibly been caused by my vehicle when considering the speed and trajectory. Also she claims I hit the curb which (if true) would make it all the more impossible for my vehicle to have hit their car since the supposed damage was well on the other side. She said she didn't have the key to get the insurance papers and suggested i come back the next day when her husband would be home. I agreed and left. A few hours later I received another call from the man saying that he was now at home and there is a police officer with him and I had better come exchange insurance or he will file a hit-and-run charge. I told him I was on my way, but when I arrived the officer was gone and the charges had been filed. I didn't give any insurance info, but instead went straight to the police to speak with the officer. He said the charge was filed and could not be retracted and that I will have a court date at which the judge will make a decision. It has been about a week now since the supposed accident and my insurance company has received a claim from the other party. Without any investigation they want to just pay the damages, and since the cost is low it wont effect my premium. However, I don't want to accept the claim because then I am accepting fault for something I didn't do, and I feel that it is essentially a guilty plea on the hit-and-run charge also. I can't afford a lawyer and I don't know where to go from here. I feel like my insurance company really doesn't care. Please someone give me some advice. Thank you

Asked on 5/29/14, 11:11 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jeffrey Zinder Zinder & Koch

There are two separate issues. First, your insurance company can settle, but they must first advise you in writing that they determined the accident was your fault and you can in writing demand that they re-evaluate the determination. Also you can advise the Department of Insurance that you disagree with the handling by the Insurance Company. The second issue is the potential of criminal charges and DMV action if you failed to report an accident. You should be very mindful of anything you receive from the DMV and/or the Court and simply state your position. Photographs of your car, showing no damages, the other car and the area in question would be helpful. .

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Answered on 5/29/14, 11:33 am

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