Three car accident advice needed

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Been reading this forum for a long time, but now actually looking for a specific advice. I thought about sending PM to some users here who usually answer to these questions, but thought the answer would be beneficial to the community.

Someone close was involved in a three car accident (call them D1 as they were driving the first car involved in the accident). Nobody got hurt (or so it appears), only car damages. So, D1 was driving the first car involved and had to stop as there was a car in front making a left turn. Second car bumped into the first car from behind, and third car bumped into the second from behind (not necessarily in this sequence). I was not present so just going by the story that I was told. D1 was too stressed to remember how many bumps they felt. To make a long story short Ė there is a police report and it states that D1 is clearly not at fault. All that D1 wants is to get the car fixed. But here is a catch Ė D2ís insurer does not want to pay, blaming the third car driver (D2 made a statement to their insurance company that they were hit first and then rear-ended the first vehicle). And third carís insurer wants to pay a portion, blaming the rest on the D2 (D3 made a statement to their insurance that they bumped the second car only after second car bumped the first car).

I told D1 to consult a lawyer, which they did. But lawyer suggested that since D1 only wants to fix the car, that D1 should sue in the small claims court on their own which will hopefully distribute the responsibility between D2 and D3 (or rather their insurances). It seems like if D1 attains a lawyer, than D1 would have to pay the lawyer fees themselves, and this is why they should sue themselves.

What D1 was told was to obtain two estimates for the repair, and sue for that amount (~2400). Also, just realized that perhaps rental car for the period of the repair can also be included?

Anything else we are missing that should be included in the amount?

I am actually somewhat interested in the process myself, and offered to help.
But since D1 and myself never done anything like this before, was wondering if someone had to go through this in the past, and what is generally the process?

Weíve obtain the form from the small claims court and it seems like it does not ask for much details. Also not sure if the suite should be against the drivers or their insurance companies.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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I was D2 in a similar accident. D1 and I were stopped. D3 rear-ended me (D2) and pushed me into D1. Police cited D3. ... (more)

Modern (Jan. 10, 2013 @ 8:52p) |

D1 did not accept the offer from the D3ís insurance. What was explained to D1 when he talked to a lawyer, that the smal... (more)

AfatA (Jan. 10, 2013 @ 9:31p) |

Let's just say that you are quickly turning that phrase into an oxymoron. And it seems you have all the answers you need... (more)

BEEFjerKAY (Jan. 10, 2013 @ 9:34p) |

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AfatA said:   Been reading this forum for a long time, but now actually looking for a specific advice. I thought about sending PM to some users here who usually answer to these questions, but thought the answer would be beneficial to the community.

Someone close was involved in a three car accident (call them D1 as they were driving the first car involved in the accident). Nobody got hurt (or so it appears), only car damages. So, D1 was driving the first car involved and had to stop as there was a car in front making a left turn. Second car bumped into the first car from behind, and third car bumped into the second from behind (not necessarily in this sequence). I was not present so just going by the story that I was told. D1 was too stressed to remember how many bumps they felt. To make a long story short Ė there is a police report and it states that D1 is clearly not at fault. All that D1 wants is to get the car fixed. But here is a catch Ė D2ís insurer does not want to pay, blaming the third car driver (D2 made a statement to their insurance company that they were hit first and then rear-ended the first vehicle). And third carís insurer wants to pay a portion, blaming the rest on the D2 (D3 made a statement to their insurance that they bumped the second car only after second car bumped the first car).

I told D1 to consult a lawyer, which they did. But lawyer suggested that since D1 only wants to fix the car, that D1 should sue in the small claims court on their own which will hopefully distribute the responsibility between D2 and D3 (or rather their insurances). It seems like if D1 attains a lawyer, than D1 would have to pay the lawyer fees themselves, and this is why they should sue themselves.

What D1 was told was to obtain two estimates for the repair, and sue for that amount (~2400). Also, just realized that perhaps rental car for the period of the repair can also be included?

Anything else we are missing that should be included in the amount?

I am actually somewhat interested in the process myself, and offered to help.
But since D1 and myself never done anything like this before, was wondering if someone had to go through this in the past, and what is generally the process?

Weíve obtain the form from the small claims court and it seems like it does not ask for much details. Also not sure if the suite should be against the drivers or their insurance companies.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Inform D1's insurance and have them go after the others.

uutxs said:   
...
Inform D1's insurance and have them go after the others.


Few additional facts.
At some point it looked like D2ís insurance was going to cover it Ė they opened a claim and even sent an appraiser, and later refused. At this point it looked like D3ís insurance was going to cover it Ė same thing they had a claim and sent an appraiser. Both D2ís and D3ís appraisals were under 1000 (appears as if they only estimated damage visible from outside). D1 did call his own insurance and opened his own claim, but was advised to go after other driverís insurance since D1ís deductible is 1000, and D1ís insurance would not pay out anything or go after D2ís or D3ís insurance to recover (since his deductible above estimate).

AfatA said:   uutxs said:   
...
Inform D1's insurance and have them go after the others.


Few additional facts.
At some point it looked like D2ís insurance was going to cover it Ė they opened a claim and even sent an appraiser, and later refused. At this point it looked like D3ís insurance was going to cover it Ė same thing they had a claim and sent an appraiser. Both D2ís and D3ís appraisals were under 1000 (appears as if they only estimated damage visible from outside). D1 did call his own insurance and opened his own claim, but was advised to go after other driverís insurance since D1ís deductible is 1000, and D1ís insurance would not pay out anything or go after D2ís or D3ís insurance to recover (since his deductible above estimate).


So who is paying the rental cost?? Will cost go above deductible If rental is included?

Why is D1s estimate of repair cost so much higher than that by the appraisers for D2 and D3? Did D1 get multiple repair estimates as advised by the lawyer? Small claims process varies by state.

Anytime some says "to make a long story short" it's almost always still too long.

Three car rear-end collision

D1 stopped as there was a car in front making a left turn.
D2 rear ended D1
D3 rear ended D2, possibly before D2 rear ended D1

Police report states D1 not at fault

D1 has physical damages of about $2400, not counting rental car (D2 & D3 damages are irrelevant to D1's claim) and no bodily injury
D1 has collision coverage with $1000 deductible

D2ís insurer does not want to pay, on the theory D3 was proximate cause (D3 rear ended D2 causing D2 to rear end D1)
D3's insurer wants to pay a portion, on the theory D2's sudden stop was the proximate cause

D1's attorney suggested obtaining two estimates for the repair, and suing in small claims for that amount (~2400).

Questions
1. Should small claim suit include cost of rental car for the period of the repair?
2. Anything else we are missing that should be included in the amount?
3. What details should we provide on the small claims court form?
4. Should suit be against D2 & D3 or their insurance companies?

AfatA said:   D1 did call his own insurance and opened his own claim, but was advised to go after other driverís insurance since D1ís deductible is 1000, and D1ís insurance would not pay out anything or go after D2ís or D3ís insurance to recover (since his deductible above estimate).

OK. That's not the way claims work.

1. D1's claim against D2 and D3 would be a liability claim, for which the typical policy has $0 deductible
2. So long as D1 has collision coverage, the typical process is to pay D1's costs (minus deductible) our of D1's collision coverage. Then go against D2 & D3 thru a process called subrogation. If the subrogation is successful, D1 get's his/her collision deductible back. If not successful, then D1 is out his/her deductible

OP - D1 either did not express the situation well to the insurance company or completely misunderstood their response.

I can understand why they might have been confused. This is a simple situation, poorly articulated.

Bottom line, D1's insurance should be handling this.

You pay your insurance precisely to handle matters like this. D1 should file with their own insurer and let the insurance companies sort it out. Since there is already a police report saying that D1 is not at fault, D1 will eventually get their $1k deductible back once his/her insurance company gets paid from the other two.

This is far too much headache for D1. Let the insurance companies handle it; it's what you pay them for. They are much better equipped to handle situations like this.

{edit: also, when D1 files with his/her insurance company they will immediately provide a rental car while the car is still not repaired. So big bonus benefit there as well}

Thoreau said:   Why is D1s estimate of repair cost so much higher than that by the appraisers for D2 and D3? Did D1 get multiple repair estimates as advised by the lawyer? Small claims process varies by state.

Yeah. Often car 2 comes out worst.

ensignlee said:   You pay your insurance precisely to handle matters like this. D1 should file with their own insurer and let the insurance companies sort it out. Since there is already a police report saying that D1 is not at fault, D1 will eventually get their $1k deductible back once his/her insurance company gets paid from the other two.

This is far too much headache for D1. Let the insurance companies handle it; it's what you pay them for. They are much better equipped to handle situations like this.


+1 for this. I recently posted an accident thread also and received pretty much same advise.

Also, if your insurer jacks up your rates by treating this as at fault and or reports it to CLUE as such, make sure you keep a copy of the police report that shows that your friend was deemed not at fault by the officer on scene. The silver lining to this is that your friend was not hurt, vehicles can be repaired or replaced! Good luck!

The point to learn from here is: If you are ever the first vehicle in a 3 car accident, just say you only felt one "bump". If after telling that, your story doesn't match the others, then say that's what you remember, but it could have been 2 "bumps", but it was so fast.

Because if you say you don't remember what happened from the beginning, you are going to be stuck in limbo, like OP's friend.

I had a similar accident, where the guy behind me was hit, and then they hit me. He suffered a high amount of damage in the rear, but not so much in the front. That's because him having his foot on the break slowed down the impact on my car (less than $250). D2 is the key. Wherever they had the most damage is the most probable first impact point.

The way I see it,
D1 = pays nothing
D2 = pays for 1/2 of D1 repair
D3 = Pays for D2 + 1/2 D1

If D2 was forced to hit D1 due to D3 impact, D2 is SOL...but at least it's only for 1/2

I was involved in an almost identical accident where I was D1, D2 was hit by D3 and then hit me. D3 ended up paying for everyone. I went through D3's insurance company to get everything taken care of. I'm sure this varies state to state (I'm in PA).

As others have said, I would go through your own insurance and let them sort it out. The only person who is Definitely not at fault here is D1, so eventually that person would be made whole.

I will chime in. My husband was in a very similar accident in 2011, however he was D3. In fact, if his accident wasn't so long ago I would be seriously questioning if this wasn't actually his accident.

How his case was resolved, although we were never given the dollar values - all cars drove off so I don't think there was much damages - is as follows.

It was determined based on statements made to the officer at the scene that D2 hit D1 first, then D3 hit D2. It was considered two separate accidents, so D3s "accident report" only discussed D2 and D3. Despite statements on the scene which were not fully captured in the police report (albeit implied given that D1 was not included in D3's accident report), D1 later changed story and claimed they were certain that there were 2 impacts, which allowed D1 to make a claim on D3's insurance.

D3's insurance paid D3's damages (subject to deductible), 100% of D2's rear end damage, and either 25% or 50% of both D2s front end and D1s rear end damages. This left D2s insurance responsible for 50-75% of D2s own front end damage and D1s rear end damage.


As an aside, D3 believed D2s brake lights were faulty (old beater truck) and took pictures proving that neither brake light was covered by plastic, just brake light tape that was not even intact (not damaged in accident) but failed to press his case to the officer or request the officer require D2 prove that the brake lights were functioning and visible (D3 swears there was no brake lights, he only knew he had to stop when he saw D2 vehicle bounce off D1)- lesson learned! We will never know if this was really 100% D3s fault, was still probably at least some his fault regardless.

BEEFjerKAY said:   Anytime some says "to make a long story short" it's almost always still too long.

<snip description>

This describes things much clearer than the OP.

First of all Ė thank you everyone who responded with a suggestion and BEEFjerKAY for excellent recap of the situation.

The reason D1 is concerned with letting his insurance handle the claim Ė
1. Itís not clear how hard his insurance is going to try to recoup his deductible Ė i.e. insurance companies have a way of negotiating the repair time and costs with shops. So if the negotiated repairs are, for example, 1500 (rental and everything included). D1ís insurance pays out 500. As I mentioned, D3ís insurance agreed to pay a portion (letís say its 500). At this point D1ís insurance payout is covered. What incentive does D1ís insurance have to try and recoup anymore money for D1? From what I was reading, the insurance is not obligated to recoup the money but just Ďtryí to out of good will since D1 is their customer.
2. D1 is really tight on money at the moment and unable to put out 1000 for repairs Ė their house is severely damaged and is in unlivable condition after Sandy (this is the reason I offered to help with this, so they can concentrate on the house).
3. As per lawyer that D1 talked with - going to small claims court will get this resolved quickly and efficiently without much expenses upfront, whereas any other way could take a long time and require D1 to pay upfront (and might not even return his money).

What are the disadvantages of going to small claims court that we should be aware of? Is there really a reason to avoid it? (The feeling I am getting so far is not to do it since not a single poster suggested/mentioned it).

ceobeaver said:   I was involved in an almost identical accident where I was D1, D2 was hit by D3 and then hit me. D3 ended up paying for everyone. I went through D3's insurance company to get everything taken care of. I'm sure this varies state to state (I'm in PA).

As others have said, I would go through your own insurance and let them sort it out. The only person who is Definitely not at fault here is D1, so eventually that person would be made whole.


I also was in the same type of accident, also in PA and was D1. I went after D3 first, but he didn't have enough coverage to handle the damages to D2 and me. Then I went after D2 and ended up having him cover the repairs and rental car. I wasn't about to pay anything out of pocket, so I just went after everybody until someone fixed my car.

I have gotten into this type of accidents before and as did my brother.

My case:
I was D1. My friend was D2. D3 didn't stop in time and hit D2's car which pushed it into mines. D3's insurance paid for everything. I recalled being asked whether I felt 1 bumps or 2 bumps. It was just 1 bump. State is Nevada.

My brother's case:
Brother was D1 making left turn on a yield light. Light turns yellow and D1 proceeded to make the left. D2 was straight traffic in opposite direction of D1. D2 didn't stop in time and clipped D1's car during the turn causing him to spin. D2's car spins into D3's car which happened to stopped, waiting for the light to turn green. Cop shows up and writes everyone a ticket. D1 (brother) for failure to yield. D2 for failing to yield. And the funny part, D3 for driving with expired license and plates (talk about wrong place at the wrong time). This was in Illionis I believe which allows for partial fault instead of single-party fault? D1's insurance covered D1's car and part of D3's car. D2's insurance covered D2's car and part of D3's car.

AfatA said:   What are the disadvantages of going to small claims court that we should be aware of? Is there really a reason to avoid it? (The feeling I am getting so far is not to do it since not a single poster suggested/mentioned it).

1. Depending on where this takes place, just because you win the case, doesn't mean you get the money. Winning gives you the right to the money. You then have to go try to collect it.

2. With all due respect, your abilities to concisely and coherently argue your friend's case are maybe 10% of those of the insurance attorneys

3. Oh, and if you sue the drivers, you should expect to see their insurance company's attorneys representing them in court. It's likely a requirement of their auto insurance policies.

4. You have to actually show up. This might not seem like such a high burden, but in some venues the insurance companies are able to influence scheduling. (It is done in the name of court efficiency in that it takes the 20 or 30 cases the insurance company might have and puts them into consecutive time slots. You would be surprised the rate at which cases can get closed that way.) So expect the insurance company to suggest a day and time that works for them ... and not necessarily for you

5. And that assumes they do not ask -- last minute, of course -- to have the case be rescheduled to a different date and time. Chances are they are appearing in that same courtroom at least 2x a month. So rescheduling imposes absolutely ZERO additional cost on them. Rescheduled date and time doesn't work for you. Too bad. So sad.

6. And even if you do prevail, the money in all likelihood will end up coming from D2's and/or D3's insurance companies anyway

So it could well take longer than one might want to actually get the cash.

OP, you sound like a nice person but you don't have the experience or communication skills to be truly helpful in this specific situation. Sorry.

BEEFjerKAY said:   AfatA said:   D1 did call his own insurance and opened his own claim, but was advised to go after other driverís insurance since D1ís deductible is 1000, and D1ís insurance would not pay out anything or go after D2ís or D3ís insurance to recover (since his deductible above estimate).

OK. That's not the way claims work.

1. D1's claim against D2 and D3 would be a liability claim, for which the typical policy has $0 deductible
2. So long as D1 has collision coverage, the typical process is to pay D1's costs (minus deductible) our of D1's collision coverage. Then go against D2 & D3 thru a process called subrogation. If the subrogation is successful, D1 get's his/her collision deductible back. If not successful, then D1 is out his/her deductible

OP - D1 either did not express the situation well to the insurance company or completely misunderstood their response.

I can understand why they might have been confused. This is a simple situation, poorly articulated.

Bottom line, D1's insurance should be handling this.



Last time I had an accident (the other party was at fault), my insurance also told me if I let them handle it, and if the repair cost ends up to be less than my deductible, they will NOT go after the other driver's insurance to recover the deductible.

I'd personally use D1's insurance and let them fight it out. Regardless of payment, D1 is was rear ended and not at fault. Unless the damages exceed the deductible, the insurance company doesn't have a right to recover. Normally they will include recovery of the deductible as a courtesy. If you file suit, it is against the drivers of the other vehicles. Their insurance companies would likely have a duty to defend.

Another thing to look at is the severity of the damage to the rear of D2. If the damages are much heavier to the rear of D2 and lighter to the front of D2 it may suggest that they were pushed into the rear of D1 which would support the denial by the insurance of D2.

Which state did the accident occur? There may be additional factors involved if this is a pure venue, modified comparative 50%/51% state. If you intend to file suit, I'd review the applicable joint and several liability rules specific to the state.

duplicate delete

duplicate delete

beyond827 said:   Last time I had an accident (the other party was at fault), my insurance also told me if I let them handle it, and if the repair cost ends up to be less than my deductible, they will NOT go after the other driver's insurance to recover the deductible.

True. However after reading OP's confusing posts, so far as I can tell D1 has $2400 in estimated damages and a $1000 deductible policy.

AfatA said:    D3ís insurance agreed to pay a portion (letís say its 500). At this point D1ís insurance payout is covered. What incentive does D1ís insurance have to try and recoup anymore money for D1?.

Well, it sounds like D3's company is trying to low-ball D1.

In all likelihood, D3's company should pay for everything.

If D3's insurance company can get D1 to accept some partial amount, D1 will be permanently screwed. Because the check from D3's insurance company likely will require D1 to give up any other claim on D3.

Once that happens, ain't nothing anyone can do about that. D1's insurance company will not have any right to recover from D3 or D3's insurance company.

IMO, don't count on ever seeing a dime from D2 or D2's company.

I was D2 in a similar accident. D1 and I were stopped. D3 rear-ended me (D2) and pushed me into D1. Police cited D3. I filed with my own insurance immediately and let them deal with everybody else. My car was totaled, so my insurer cut a check for the total loss value minus my deductible. My insurance paid for the value of a rental car up to my policy limits. Insurer for D3 contacted me a while after, accepted total responsibility for the accident (police report made this pretty clear cut, I think). I recovered my deductible through subrogation, but had to continue to bug D3's insurer to recover my out of pocket rental costs (I had costs above my policy limits for rental). This was annoying and time somewhat time consuming in that I did have to do research and negotiate a fair total loss settlement, and I had to bug D3's insurer to finally get reimbursed for out of pocket rental costs, but I think it was way easier than trying to open claims directly with the other insurers.

D1 did not accept the offer from the D3ís insurance. What was explained to D1 when he talked to a lawyer, that the small claims court will merely decide what amount would D2ís insurance pay and what amount would D3ís insurance pay.
The estimate of 2400 is from the dealer and at full retail rates, insurances get similar repairs done cheaper. The lawyer instructed D1 to get estimates as this is what they would have to pay to fix the car themselves. The accident happened in one of the boroughs of NYC.
My understanding is that since D1 is not at fault, the lawyers from D2ís and D3ís insurance would not go against D1, but rather against each other (i.e. what percent does each one pay). The court would decide distribution between D2ís and D3ís insurances and total amount (which should include average from estimates+rental+court fee+?). Am I wrong here?

AfatA said:   My understanding

Let's just say that you are quickly turning that phrase into an oxymoron. And it seems you have all the answers you need.



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