Am I allowed to adjust the settlement amount for prior existing damage to vehicle that I hit?

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Am I allowed to adjust the settlement amount for prior existing damage to vehicle that I hit?

I rear-ended a vehicle in which there were no physical injuries and very minor damage to bumper. After looking more closely at the photos I took at the scene, It appears that there was prior damage to the bumper (only a small screw indent appears to be my fault). I know if we went through insurance, my insurance company would deduct pay out for prior damage. Since we are settling this without insurance, can I do the same? I feel paying for a whole new bumper would be unjust enrichment.

Asked on July 31, 2012 under Accident Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Settlements are voluntary. You can certainly propose to reflect the asserted prior damage in a settlement (and your theory of why and how to do so is correct); bear in mind that if the other party believes it is entitled to more money, he or she could reject the settlement and elect to sue you instead and see if a court will award it more.


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