“I was in a car accident. Now the other driver’s insurance company is asking me for money. Please help!”

April 20, 2015 by Steven M. GurstenFree Accident Crash photo and picture

As an auto accident attorney, I often receive questions about car insurance, and how it works after a crash involving injury or property damage. Today I’m sharing a common question about what to do when you’ve been involved in an automobile accident and the other driver’s insurance company contacts you asking for money. Hope this helps.

Q. I was in a car accident. Now, the insurance company for one of the other people involved is asking me for money. Please help! I hit a car on the highway and then, another driver hit the same car that I hit. One of those driver’s insurance companies has been calling me for the last week asking me to pay $500 for that person’s deductible. I had PLPD [Personal Liability and Property Damage] on my car. Shouldn’t they be talking to my insurance company instead of harassing me?

A. I’m very sorry to hear about your accident. Judging by your comments, hopefully no one was injured. As for the request from the other driver’s auto insurer for you to pay for (what I presume is) the other driver’s collision deductible, there are a couple of legal issues that come into play.

First, whether you’re liable to pay anything for either driver’s deductible depends on whether you were at-fault in causing the car accident. Although the “at-fault” issue usually is based upon who was issued a ticket by the police and later by the insurance company’s claim adjuster looking to see who’s listed as being at-fault on the police report, ultimately, it boils down to the proofs of what the drivers, passengers and witnesses say. Rarely was the police officer there to observe the crash unfold before his or her eyes.

Second, in the event that you were at-fault in causing the crash, if you have mini tort coverage (which is frequently referred to as “Limited Property Damage”) as part of your auto insurance policy, then I believe you’re correct that the other auto insurer should be talking to your insurer to make a claim under your policy.

Third, in the event that you were at-fault, but you do not have insurance, then you do not have mini tort coverage or protection. In this case, the other driver’s auto insurer will likely be contacting you directly. The amount you pay will also not be capped.

Under Michigan’s mini tort Law, the at-fault driver who causes a crash resulting in damage to another person’s vehicle can be held liable for up to $1,000. For more information, take a look at Michigan Auto Law’s webpage on the Michigan mini tort. I hope this information is helpful. Good luck.