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Got a call about 6 hours ago. My wife frantically screaming that she had struck someone and to come and help....

I get there and her m3 is a total....she is ok but the 17 yr old kid she struck was about to be life flighted with chaplain at his side. Turns out that as she was driving through the intersection with a green light at 50 mph, the 17 yr old decided to cross via bike running his red. the apillar is bent about a foot down the hood is peeled back and you could see the imprint of his head at the roof line. It hit so hard that the drivers side door would not close due to misallignment.

Luckily two cars that were immediately to the side and rear of her stopped and remained with her as witnesses to confirm her green and make sure things were ok.

By the end of the night, no citations were given as detectives confirm with skid marks and witness statements that my wife was not at fault.

My question is now obviously one of liability. Though no fault was found nor citation issued my concern now is a litigitous one. If the parents tried to sue us would it fall short because their child was at fault>? Unfortunately as I try to help my wife cope with this tragedy, I have to also worry about future repurcussions in a civil court. Words stated by the father on the scene in regards to our ownership of an m3 and an m5 lead me to believe that he will atttempt to file....Any insight would help.....
 

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Sorry to hear. Obviously, notify your insurance carrier(s) of the occurrence if you have not already done so. Unfortunately, a lawsuit probably will be coming your way at some point. You might consider consulting (not necessarily retaining) a lawyer now with respect to the situation. State laws and practices differ and you'll surely get better advice from someone who is familiar with them. I'd also keep in mind that a plaintiff's attorney may someday be inquiring into you and your wife's conversations, emails, web posts, etc. regarding this incident.

phxgunner said:
Words stated by the father on the scene in regards to our ownership of an m3 and an m5 lead me to believe that he will atttempt to file
This sounds bizarre. If it were my kid, they would have needed a second helicopter for me.
 

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dude, get your wife some therapy before you worry about a lawsuit.
she hit a human for god sake. thats gotta be the worst experience ever!
a lawsuit will take years, take care of your wife now.
shes probably trying to act like shes ok , but she isnt i cant imagine what shes going through.
i hope everything comes out good for you .

ray
 

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Sorry to hear about this. It's a terrible situation for sure.

As the previous poster indicated, get your wife some help.

Then, go see a good attorney. As indicated above, if there is going to be a lawsuit, it'll be a while, but it doesn't hurt to talk to a good attorney now. Don't be put off by the potential cost - you could lose more if you don't protect yourself now.

Good luck.

Jeff
 

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I'm so sorry to hear your news. Bad times for everyone involved. I do hope the kid is okay.

I agree with the advice of the previous posts, take care of your wife. As has been posted in other "accident" threads you probably should reserve posting details here in case of litigation - you never know how someone will try to "interpret" your comments.

You are very fortunate that you have accurate witnesses. I've head of similar situations where people "think" they are witnesses but side with the bicyclist because they are the "underdog". Those witnesses you have *should* mean that you will come out of all this okay. Best of luck to all of you.

Paul
 

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Wow- really sorry to hear this. Give your wife our best.

What is so awkward is that you would like to reach out and comfort the family who's kid was hurt, but at the same time you (correctly) recognize that litigation may ensue.

You can me sure there will be a suit- some ambulance chaser will file to try and get a settlement.

I would consult your own attorney (not necessarily retain one) to make sure you are doing 'the right things'. Maybe spend a few hundred- maybe just a consult with a well-recommended atty will turn out to be free for the first concersation. Your insurance will pick up the litigation costs, but they are protecting their money- not your.

A

PS You don't need us to tell you to get your wife help- this is an auto board and you posted an auto question. Don't feel that anyone is accusing you of acting inappropriately. I am sure you will be dealing with that for quite some time.
 

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ard said:
What is so awkward is that you would like to reach out and comfort the family who's kid was hurt, but at the same time you (correctly) recognize that litigation may ensue.
There is no reason why a well written and heartfelt letter of sympathy to the family will hurt even if litigation ensues, and often it is the best thing, since the other family may feel that the absence of such a letter means you have no feelings.

Such a letter need not admit fault or blame, or even address the subject at all. It can simply say you are very concerned for the well-being of the other party and they are in your thoughts and prayers.

The law doesn't prevent us from being kind or humane to others.
 

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Sorry to hear, hope all turns out well for your family and the boy and his family:(
 

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Not nice to hear but can happen to anyone sadly. How's the kid doing? As for your own situation: get help for your wife, then seek advice from a good lawyer who can give you some info of help you. And be glad there are witnesses! Good luck, take care,
 

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A sad tradgedy indeed.

What's particularly sad is how we in the US want to blame someone else, anyone, for things that they are not responsible for.

Certainly if I were the parent of the injured child I'd make sure of the details of the incident as collected from the police and witnesses. If my child were at fault then that's where I'd leave the responsibility with...my child for making a mistake and not paying attention. Accidents happen and the results are often physically and emotionally painful. Unfortunately that is a fact of life.

My heart goes out to you and your wife during this most difficult time.

Regards, Mike
 

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I'm sorry to hear about the tragic events.

Consulting a lawyer is not a bad idea but in New York your insurance company would retain your lawyer free of charge as part of your policy but only if a lawsuit is commenced. I do not know what your state provides but I would think it would be similar. As other posts have said immediately notify your carrier. I would also obtain a copy of the police report for your files and obtain the addresses as well as the names of all witnesses to provide to your lawyer when, and if, one is needed.

I mean no disrespect to any other memebers on the board but I would try and avoid contact with the boys family. I tell my clients to avoid contact because the sad fact is that the offer of sympathy will be taken, or used,the wrong way. I am ashamed to say this but here in New York frequently the desire to file a lawsuit, whether motivated by the need to blame someone or other motives, over rides any other emotion.

Good luck with your situation.

Michael.
 

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I agree with the previous post. I would avoid contact with the victim's family as "showing remorse" could be translated into "accepting blame".

If you want to make a statement, again, ask a good attorney to handle that for you. He/she could probably make a public statement that expressed your desire to say something to the family without creating any liability for you.

Jeff
 

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First, thinking good thoughts for your wife. You both need emotional support right now. Many years ago, we were starting off at a green light, and a drunk pedestrian ran right in front of our car (also happened in NYC - Houston street, if I recall correctly). We were also lucky that there were a) witnesses and b) one of those witnesses was a cop parked across the street. Even though the kid cartwheeled across my (passenger) side window, and was whisked off by an ambulance, the cop assured us that the kid would be getting a ticket - NOT US.

Despite that, it was very scary. I kept having paranoid thoughts when I was applying to law school that somehow, as unlikely as it was, that this event would come back to bite me. This, even though I wasn't even the one driving!

Second, I cannot second strongly enough that you NOT make contact with the other family. Anything you may say verbally or on paper can be twisted around to show that you feel guilty about what happened. And we live in a litigious society - people don't like to take responsibility for their own actions, and it's even better if they can brush off responsibility onto someone with apparently deep pockets. Though unlikely that the kid's family would prevail in the case of a law suit, you still don't want to give them anything that you (or your attorney) will end up having to respond to. Even if it's groundless, it's one more thing that will chew up time (and incur legal bills). If you really feel strongly about conveying your feelings, go with the advice offered previously - get an attorney who is versed in personal injury law to write up the statement.

Third, in addition to the police report, you will want to get statements from the witnesses ASAP. Witnesses tend to forget. They tend to make mistakes. They tend to want to NOT get involved once they've had time to think about the possibilities of having to go to court. The closer you can get affidavits to the actual event, the better. I would again strongly advise you to contact an attorney.

Best,

Mrs_Struth
 

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The main question is whether you are underinsured or not. If the policy limits of your insurance are not high enough to cover a possible judgment, then you may want your own attorney to defend you from any excess judgment. If, however, you have enough insurance, don't worry about a civil suit as your carrier will provide a defense.

TexasM5
 

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I had a similar accident 17 years ago in Chicago. I was driving home from work with two co-workers in the car doing about 35 (on Belmont near Kimble for those who know Chicago) when a lady ran across the street to meet her boyfriend; she ran right into the passenger door of my 84 Ford Escort. In spite of the facts that myself, my two witnesses and her boyfriend told the Police exactly what happened and I received no ticket, she sued me.

I turned the summons over to my insurance company who handled everything. I didn't even have to appear in court. Obviously, though as TexasM5 said, if you don't have enough coverage you will have to defend yourself for the balance. I would talk to an attorney if I were you.

FWIW, I didn't drive for two years after that it bothered me so much.
 

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Mrs_Struth said:
And we live in a litigious society - people don't like to take responsibility for their own actions,
DING DING DING! Exactly! This is a huge problem with today's society in my opinion.

Sorry to hear about this situation. It's hard to imagine all the emotions you and your family are going through. I hope for the best for you.
 

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First, strongly agree that help for your wife will be important for the mental health of your wife. However first hire a lawyer and let him/her guide you as to what to do. Believe it or not, if the family sues your whole life will become an open book. I have been there/done that, and you wouldn't believe what goes on in a personal injury lawsuit.

Second, I agree with both mchin and Mrs Struth (and others) that you not contact the family of the boy either directly or indirectly without first hiring a lawyer who's specialty is defending personal injury lawsuits. Follow the lawyer's advice concerning contact with the family -- my guess is he/she will advise you to avoid contact.

Third, I agree with Mrs Struth that you will want to get statements from the witnesses. However, do not do it yourself. The lawyer you hire will do it. The cost now will be very small compared to your potential financial exposure. A jury will look at the potential earnings of the 17 yr old over his lifetime in determing damages -- you do not want it to get that far.
It could take many years for a lawsuit to get into court, and the memory of witnesses can fade over time. Plus they might not be available a few years from now (moved, ill health, etc.)

Also the lawyer will get statements from any law enforcement and emergency personnel that were at the scene. He/she will take pictures and measurements of the accident scene, and reconstruct what happened.

While your auto insurance company will provide coverage and lawyers, I am not sure that they will protect your assests (if you do not have an umbrella policy with high coverage you could find your assets at risk in a multi-million dollar verdict). You need to get your own lawyer to protect your assests and to ensure that this never gets to court.

Although it may not have been your wifes fault, the opposing lawyer (law firm)will not worry about that. He/she/they will turn things around so you will think it was you who was driving backward at 100mph through the intersection. The smell of a multi-million dollar settlement is very strong.

Do not mean to scare you, but the fact that the 17 yr old was at fault and may have done something stupid doesn't let you off the hook from being sued. Protect yourself.
 

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My prayers goes out to all parites involved.
As a therapist... I would suggest some sort of psychological counseling for going through a traumatic experience. In addition, a lawyer might also be able to make a referral for your wife to see a therapist for assessment.
Best of luck
 

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phinnbillM5 said:
Third, I agree with Mrs Struth that you will want to get statements from the witnesses. However, do not do it yourself. The lawyer you hire will do it.
Sorry if I wasn't clear - I meant that your lawyer should do this. You should never undertake these kinds of things without experienced legal counsel. And I wouldn't wait until you are potentially contacted by their attorney - or worse, by a process server - to seek engage your own attorney in this case. With respect to personal injury matters, it is ALWAYS better to have a lawyer (and witnesses, and sworn statements, and police reports, etc) and not need 'em, than to need 'em and not have 'em.

(And for purposes of full disclosure, I am an attorney, but I don't do anything that even remotely resembles PI work)

Best,

Mrs_Struth
 
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