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Auto Insurance Claims/how much damage would I have?

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QUESTION: I have been accused of rear ending a 2002 ford explorer with a hitch on the back. I drive a 2006 Nissan 350Z convertible. The accuser claims she was stopped and I hit her while traveling 5 miles an hour. Unless I have lost my mind this never happened. She is claiming damage to her explorer. The police officer insists that he can see a mark where the hitch touched my bumper. Took it to an auto body shop, and he says he can feel an small bump, but can not tell what caused it. Is there anyway I could hit a hitch at 5 miles an hour and not have done serious damage to my fender?

ANSWER: Hello Linda,

I'm not completely clear on your question.  Is it that you did not hit the Ford at all, or that you hit it at less than 5 mph?

If you hit it, regardless of speed, there would be physical evidence of the impact, no matter how slight.  In other words, if you simply "tapped" her, there would be some type of minor damage similar to the type you have described.  5 mph?  Not likely with the damage you described.  Generally speaking a bumper cover is not match for a hitch.

You don't include what type of damage she had, if any.  Nor do you address how the police became involved, if there were any witnesses, etc.  I'm not sure the issue is how much damage you should have based on a roughly estimated 5 mph.  The issue is whether you hit her at all.  If you did, the event is an accident, like it or not.  If you insist you did not hit her, did you tell the police that?  Is your damage pre-existing?

In a perfect world, if you are the only one with damage, and if the damage is extremely minor, then the matter will go no further unless you believe it justifies a claim. The problem is, these "little" instances can become bigger ones if someone in her vehicle claims injury.  In the event this occurs, you will need to be forthright with the details.

Jane

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Jane. No I DID NOT hit her. This individual claims  I did, and claims that she has damage. She took a photo of my car and license plate, and took it to the police. The police followed up and cited me for leaving the scene of an accident. The only information I have is from the police report, which is full of errors and inconsistent statements. At one point she claims, less than $50 in damages, in another point it says she has no damages. I have no damage to my car, other than little nicks and chips (the car is 9+ years old) but in overall good condition. She does state that no one was injured. I have never met her, or seen her care. There is always traffic in front of the school ( but I had no reason to notice the other cars) where she was dropping of her child. There is a turn lane ( a little over .3 miles long in front of the school)and one would expect she would be in that lane.. I always stay in the middle lane, since I am going past the school. This is like living in the "twilight zone". I know I  did not hit her. My car has no damage. But I am still about to be charged with a criminal offense for leaving the scene of the accident. I have been driving 48 years, never had an accident that was my fault ( rear ended once at a stop light some time in the 80's, and sideswiped once when someone ran a stop sign early 1970s). One speeding ticket in 1992 on I 95.
My question which you answered - is would I have damage if I hit a stopped Ford explorer with a hitch, and I was going 5 miles an hour. Trying to get all the information I can gather prior to going to court hiring an attorney and going to court. I do not have a court date on the citation, it is to be determined.

Is there any source to dhow what kind of damage might have occurred for this situation.

Thanks for your assistance.

Linda

Answer
Speaking as an ex-cop ... Wow! No chance in court ... at least in my opinion... but you are very smart to have an attorney. She says she has no injuries now, but my experience says that can very easily change.  Can't understand what her agenda would be otherwise.  All this for some minor damage?

As for a source for court, you would need the opinion of an expert.  I don't see how that is worth it in this case - at least for now.  If she claims injury, maybe.  But who says you were traveling at 5 mph?  Based on what you have told me, I would guess less than that.  But then, you never hit her.  So the 5 mph is her guess?  How would she know that!

Good luck.

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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