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Question
I backed up from a parking space and hit a car. The damage was so minor I was able to buff it out. Like brand new. His car also had minor damage nothing a good buffer couldn't take out. But...he was able to get 1200 out of my insurance co. Oh well I guess. Now, I hear he has a lawyer and is claiming bodily injury. Go figure. He was up and talking..there were witnesses, he had nothing wrong with him. I know this is fraud straight up. Geico called me to tell me this. Since I dont have full coverage of course they will not even entertain this...but what do I do if I get a letter from his lawyer? I'm a single mother and I don't have a lot of resources. Even though I know this is fraud that I only read about or hear about in the news. Geico tells me, once the know my insurance can't pay out, they will drop it. But what if they don't? I can't afford a highpriced lawyer. Can you give me any advise of what I should do or say? I have this lawyers name and ph number. Do I call him or wait to,see if they come after me? I'm so scared...and so mad at the same time.

Answer
Hello Maria,

I see you reside in Florida ... where this type of thing is, unfortunately, common.

First - DO NOT MAKE CONTACT WITH THE LAWYER!  I would tend to believe your carrier - from your personal liability standpoint, you have no assets.  The attorney is not likely to "come after" you personally.

Typically these scams focus on settling with the BI (Liability)carrier within the limits.  If you have mandatory limits, by law you have $10K of BI coverage.  Through the attorney, they will attempt to get a portion of that.  However, first they have some stumbling blocks.

Have you been deemed "at fault" by your carrier.  OK, so you were backing out.  What was the other driver doing?  Was he backing out too?  So then, who is "at fault"? If both of you were backing at the same time, presumably liability would be split.  That, of course, would hamper their efforts.

Are there independent witnesses?  Do you have the names?  Did you call the police?

A WORD OF WARNING - ALWAYS, ALWAYS REPORT AN ACCIDENT TO THE POLICE, NO MATTER HOW MINOR... especially in Florida.

A police report at least establishes the facts.  It also establishes how many people were in each vehicle.  Do not be surprised if "injured passengers" that were not in the car show up.

So what do you do now?

You have an insurance policy - a contract - with your carrier.  Your carrier has a duty, an obligation to defend you.  Simply put, they have an obligation to thoroughly investigate this. The investigation should be referred to SIU - Special investigations Unit since it is clearly fraud.

In addition to the actual investigation, your carrier has a duty to protect you.  Protecting means doing whatever is necessary to shield you from further damages.

Your carrier has a duty to defend you in any suit or threatened suit.  While you certainly have the right to hire a personal attorney, you need not do this. Defense is the duty of your carrier.

Having said all this, the world is not perfect.  Certainly the insurance world is not perfect.  Therefore, find out who your liability (BI) adjuster is and maintain contact.  Make certain that they are defending you.  Request that they keep you abreast of all activities related to this claim.

This is their job.  Your job is to make certain that they are active on the case.  In the end, they may decide to settle this.  Settlement would have to be within your limits.  If they do this, it is strictly their decision.  By way of your contract, you have turned over your rights to directly defend yourself.  Nonetheless, the carrier has an obligation to act on your behalf.  That means keeping current on demand deadlines, investigating, and negotiating in good faith.

If you have any questions as this progresses, feel free to follow up.

Jane

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Jane Pytel

Expertise

I can answer questions related to auto accidents, auto damage, auto theft claims, or personal injury claims. I am specifically suited to answer questions concerning insurance investigations and the effects of those investigations such as claim delays, claim denials, examinations under oath, or the special investigations unit. I can answer most any question that relates to proper claims investigations, or claims handling procedures and processes. I have authored several ebooks which provide claim guidance for consumers. Those books are available on Amazon Kindle: Power To Profit - will provide you with the knowledge you need to overcome the patterned obstacles that insurance companies will use to delay, devalue, or deny your valid insurance claim. The No Nonsense Guide to Accident Settlement - Teaches you how to manage your claim, how to identify the precise tactics likely to be used against you, and how you must respond.

Experience

12 years of experience with 3 major insurance companies. I hold an all lines adjusters license in Florida. I am well versed in claims handling, claims investigations, and industry standards related to both. The bulk of my experience stems from my 10 years as a police officer / detective. Building on that investigative experience, I became an SIU (Special Investigations Unit) Investigator. Accordingly, my unique expertise lies in the investigation of claims. What is necessary and related, what is not necessary and related? What constitutes a fair claims investigation? What recourse is available for consumers who suspect they are experiencing unfair claims delays? During the course of my experience, I became a certified trainer, instructing adjusters and investigators proper techniques for claims investigation and claims handling.

Education/Credentials
B.A., Communications, University of Miami 350 credit hours of intense investigative training, Miami Dade Police 80 hours of investigative training, various Federal Agencies, Miami, Fl Intensive Accident Reconstruction and Pedestrian Injury Analysis, NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, Oklahoma City, OK 2 weeks Auto Damage Appraisal, Winston Salem, NC Legal Principles Claim Specialist, AEI

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