Someone hit one of my cows with there car, never notified of damages 4 months later get a bill from insurance company what do i do?

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2009

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Someone hit one of my cows with there car, never notified of damages 4 months later get a bill from insurance company what do i do?

We were arrested and went to court for criminal nuisance and had to pay a fine because noone ever said anything about the damages to the vehicle but 4 months later have received a bill from there inusrance company for damages to the car and we at time had no insurance coverage for that sort of thing and i am responsible to pay the bill even though we were never notified of the damages or seen any reports from there insurance company as to the damages?

Asked on April 13, 2009 under Accident Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

This is confusing but I gather that you have a farm and did not have adequate fencing which allowed some of your cows to wander off your property on the road where driver X hit it.

I also assume that you were charged by the police with criminal nuisance for not having the fence required by state law or local ordinance and were convicted or pleaded guilty. (If you pleaded guilty or were convicted that would irrevocably determine you violated the law or ordinance, and almost certainly establish that you were negligent by allowing the cows to wander off your property.)

I must assume that driver X's insurance company paid driver X for the damages to his car and any medical bills incurred. His insurance company would then have taken a "subrogation claim" from driver X, allowing the insurance company to sue any person responsible for the accident, just as if driver X could have sued you, and the insurance company can recover all the money it paid out.

To recover money from you the insurance company must establish you were negligent (the guilty plea likely does that), and the extent of the damage it sustained (what it paid out to its insured, driver X). You then can defend by showing that even if you were negligent, driver X was guilty of contributory negligence by driving too fast under the circumstances so he could not stop in time, or was drunk, failed to have his headlights on, etc. and but for his own negligence there would have been no accident, and he had the last clear chance to avoid it. 

To the extent you show any negligence on driver X's part the damages are reduced proportionally; if you convince the court driver X was 50% or more at fault, his insurance company gets nothing as he would have gotten nothing.

At this stage it seems as if all that has happened is that a demand has been made against you by the insurance company. That's standard. You can tell them to take a hike and they can sue you. If tey sue you can try to defend it and they have to prove their case to collect, unless you default. If there is enough involved, get a lawyer.

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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