Auto Insurance Claims/Three months later there is a mystery witness?
QUESTION: My accident happened in October. It is now January and I have been waiting on word from insurance company for three months.
The accident happened on a wet, congested roadway. There were five lanes on this street... Two for each direction and one in the middle as a turn lane.. There was no concrete median. The unit which I was in the accident with was traveling parallel with me in the lane to my right. I was in the lane closest to the turn lane. Due to the weather, traffic was slow to pick up from the light that had just turned. I allowed extra space between the car ahead of me. The gentleman in the truck then picked up speed to come around in front of me. He gave no indication of his intent to come into my lane. He failed to use signals or even a safe distance. I assumed that the fact he came in front of my car at a 45 degree angle that he was trying to pass the vehicle in front of him. I tried to avoid the collision by turning as best as I could on wet pavement. I ended up finally making contact with his vehicle. I hit the gentleman at a 45 degree angle and I was half way between my original lane and the turn lane. the other man's truck was almost into on coming traffic, so with no serious injuries we moved off of the roadway onto a parking lot.
A good samaritan that witnessed the whole thing pulled over and gave me his contact information and told me to have the officer and my insurance to call him and he would give his testimony. This samaritan followed us to the parking lot that we pulled into, so the gentleman that i was in the accident with seen him and was aware that there was a witness. First off the guy that I hit didn't want to call police and get a report. Second, I had to file a complaint with his insurance company, because he refused to do so. The police report has me as unit one. I am assuming because I hit his car. BUT.. the report is very neutral, having no human factors..The officer never puts any blame on either driver. And typically in ky when you are rear ended it is very hard to prove that the one that hit you isn't at fault. However, the police report has it determined as an angular accident , not a rear end collision. It also has pre wreck actions for me as going straight and the gentleman as making left hand turn. The guy told the officer he was turning left.. but he was in far right hand lane. He had less than 75 feet to manuever his vehicle from his lane to the road where he was trying to turn. It was impossible to do in a safe manner. So now two weeks ago, he decides to file an injury claim with my insurance company, in which they deny, because his statement just didn't make any sense, from what my adjuster told me. He also didn't have a witness at this time which baffles me, because I would think with him wanting to win his claim that would be an important piece of information to use. So now I have contacted his insurance company to see if they are going to fix my car.. all was well until yesterday when I was informed that he had a witness that they were trying to get a statement from. WHAT?!?!? My insurance company knew of no witness.. I had heard of no witness... No one arrived at the scene, no one had pulled over or approached us. If he has a witness, then so be it.. truth has to come out.. angles and science don't lie. But I am very concerned about the validity of the mysterious witnesses claim, and why is he just now utilizing this tool when he could've used him or her to fight the injury claim that he was denied. I requested info on the witness, such as when they were added to the claim, and asked if they would intend to follow up with fraud charges, or purgery if they found the witness to be someone that was talked into or paid to do so. What can I do, or should I do to make sure that I am not just pushed off.. I mean I have been very active with this I am not going to stop until my car is paid for. Can I take him to small claims, and sue.. Maybe having my witness, and a map, diagrams, and my police report with pics of my car will at least get an unbiased perspective. If I do so, and the judgement is for me, since small claims is a very small amount of money and my damages are over 5,000.00 could I then force his company to pay the difference, or what can I do? Thank you for all of your help!
ANSWER: Hi Tamera,
First, if your claim is greater than the amount you can get in small claims court, you should not go to small claims court but instead move up to tthe court that have the authority to grant your entire claim.
Second, you should be working closely with your insurance company to be sure they do not pay any of the other guys claims.
Third, You should contact your witness to be sure his story still favors you and that he is willing to come to court if necessary. You should consult with an attorney if you intend to go to court. If you file suit against the other driver, his insurance company will provide him with a defense attorney. Also if you file suit you will then be able through discovery, to obtain a deposition from the other driver as well as his witness.
I hope this helps
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for your help. The problem I am having is that no lawyer will help me out because there were no significant injuries. And the next court up from small claims is civil, and to my understanding a lawyer is mandatory. And not to sound ignorant, but is a deposition the same as a "statement"? Thank you in advance.
A deposition is a statement but is taken under oath with a court reporter taking down everything that is said. Then the recorded statement is transcribed and can be used in court.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to find a lawyer willing to help and it could cost you more than you are willing to pay. If you go to small claims court, you will have to limit your claim to the limit of the small claims court. You would not be able to go after the rest later. The amount of your judgement would be the amount you would get from the insurance company. Also you would need to bring your witness to court to testify. A notarized statement from the witness would likely not be able to be offered as evidence in court.
I hope this helps