Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

We think we are being scammed

My wife ran into the back of someone last Thursday night, and based on the way this guy is handling this, I am very suspicious of him. He's acting as if this is a scam. The problem is, even though we have insurance, we just can't afford to submit this claim to them right now. If we were to settle out of court, what can we draw up that, if he would sign it, would give us a certain degree of protection from him coming back at us for personal injury damages? He says he's fine right now, but I don't trust this guy one bit. Again, if submitting this to our insurance is not an option, what is the best way to handle this.

Asked on 1/23/07, 12:04 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Phillip Cooke Law offices of Phillip A. cooke

Re: We think we are being scammed

An insured has a duty to cooperate with their insurance company. Not notifying them of a suspicious claim could be a substantial problem for you if you do not report it. Unless you hire an investigator and an attorney to protect you that is skilled in investigating accidents, you may be denied coverage for refusing to cooperated with your insurance company. If you want to spend the money to get professional help, then do it.

If you do not report it to your insurance company and allow them to conduct a professional investigation, you had better be prepared to defend the claim yourself, get the kind of release you need and that is why you have paid to have insurance. If you think it would increase your rates or cause the insurance company to cancel you, you may be right but it may not be cost effective anyway to not report it.

Many people can get hurt, even seriously, in a collision that does not seem to cause very much damage. For both the person injured and you an early investigation can preserve important evidence. That is why it is good to get professional help early in a case. Your insurance company is prepared to use that professional help. You should not be afraid to report the collision.

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Answered on 1/30/07, 4:04 pm
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: We think we are being scammed

A scam is when there is fabricated damage or intentional creation of the collision. They're hard to prove - your insurance company could investigate and defend against it. Scam or not, if you want to privately settle, you need the same kind of general release and settlement agreement terms used in normal cases. If you're willing to have counsel help you do it right, feel free to contact me to work out the details.

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Answered on 1/30/07, 4:14 pm
Steven Lynes Lynes & Associates

Re: We think we are being scammed

I join with Mr. Cooke's recommendation to notify your insurance company of the claim. Failing to notify of the claim may result the absence of any coverage, including the appointment of an attorney to defend you. Unless you can quickly get a release signed by the other party which releases any known and unknown property and personal injury claims, you should notify the insurer immediately. Furthermore, the insurance company will likely discover the accident at your next renewal if the damage exceeds $750 to any one care and it was reported to DMV by you or other driver as required.

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Answered on 1/30/07, 4:42 pm

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