Legal Question in Personal Injury in Washington

Injuries exaggerated by person I rear-ended...

I recently rear-ended a woman going maybe 5 miles per hour, which did very little (a miniscule ding) to her bumper. She insisted on calling the police, filing a report, and refused to be checked out by an aid car, but she did go to the hospital afterwards. She was obviously over-reacting physical injuries to the incident, and I am sensing she plans on trying to sue me for some made-up physical damages, since the damage to her vehicle was negligible. I let my insurance lapse just prior to the occurance, but obtained it again immediately after the incident. I consider myself to be an honest person, and am willing to take care of any applicable damages that are associated with this incident, but I do not want to become this woman's cash-cow. What should I do to protect myself from this woman's dishonest behavior? Should I seek further legal advice? What sort of lawyer would best suit my situation? Please help me, -I am losing sleep on this issue. What is the staute of limitations on this situation? Should I seek a copy of the police report? Should I not converse with this woman, -just through her insurance? Help!

Asked on 6/17/07, 4:23 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Sam Hochberg Sam Hochberg & Associates

Re: Injuries exaggerated by person I rear-ended...

Since this plaintiff's injuries MAY be minor or exaggerated, I suggest hiring a reputable personal injury attorney now, and see if the lawyer finds it advisable to get her to accept some sort of relatively nominal settlement now, before she tries to inflate her damages any further, presuming that's what she is doing. You may want a lawyer who regularly handles insurance defense. I would at the very least, pay for a meeting with a lawyer, to get more detailed advice than is possible for me to give you online. This will also help you avoid any inadvertent misunderstandings of anything you're told online.

It sounds like this woman's own insurance is paying her medical bills, and that's why they've contacted you, since they will want to be reimbursed for that. Again, see if you can get out of this SOONER rather than later. Ask the insurer to tell you as soon as she appears to be finished treating. Ask them how MUCH she is currently treating as well, to get some handle on what she is up to.

If you think it's warranted (i.e, that the plaintiff is inventing or grossly exaggerating her injuries), you can also hire an investigator, usually through your lawyer, to try to keep an eye on her. Insurance companies do this frequently. As an example, if she is complaining of low back pain and you think she's a fake or exaggerating, you'd want to see if an investigator can snap a picture of her hauling cement sacks or playing basketball and such.

Good luck, and don't worry. It sounds minor, but get some help from a lawyer, in person.

-- Sam

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Answered on 6/19/07, 10:23 pm
Merry Kogut Key Peninsula Law

Re: Injuries exaggerated by person I rear-ended...

Get the police report (about $5.00).

Get some sleep.

Only talk to her insurance company, but remember that everything you say could be used against you. So, avoid saying anything to anyone. Insist that all communication be in writing.

If you get sued, you'll need a defense attorney. I suggest you get someone who specializes in defense.

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Answered on 6/17/07, 5:01 pm

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