Do I have to payfor an accident thatmy daughter allegedly caused with her bikeifI have reason to believe the motorist was speeding?

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Do I have to payfor an accident thatmy daughter allegedly caused with her bikeifI have reason to believe the motorist was speeding?

My 16 year old daughter was riding her bicycle through an intersection. A motorist says my daughter never stopped at the intersection causing the motorist to swerve to avoid hitting my daughter causing them to side swipe a utility pole. There was minimal damage done to the pole, no injuries. The motorists insurance company is now coming after me for over $8600. What do I do now? My daughter said she looked and never even saw the vehicle.

Asked on February 8, 2012 under Accident Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A person is only liable for the costs of an accident if the person was at-fault in causing the accident; that is, she caused it deliberately, or she was negligent (unreasonably careless) and caused it. If the person was an unemancipated minor, then the parents could be liable.

If you believe your daughter was not at fault and/or that the amount being sought is inflated (you only have to pay for the actual, provable damage or personal injuries), your options are to 1) try to negotiate to some amount you can agree to pay; or 2) let them sue you and defend yourself in court, by attacking their case.

The ways to attack their care are:

a) Attack causality--undercut any claim or evidence that your daughter caused the accident.

b) Attack fault--show that your daughter was not doing anything wrong (e.g. not negligent).

c) Show that the other person was at-fault (e.g. speeding, which would be driving carelessly), since to the degree he or she is at fault, the amount he or she could recover is reduced.

d) Show  that the monetary claims are not supported by the actual damage done.

Check your insurance policies also (e.g. homeowners)--see if any of your policies will obligate one of your insurers to defend the case and, if necessary or appropriate, pay any amounts due or agreed to.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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