Frivolous lawsuits

I am being sued by a young woman who walked in front of my car and was “hit”. I had pulled out of the parking garage at work, crossed over the pedestrian walk, and was waiting at street level to make a right turn. She chose to ignore the pedestrian walk behind my car and instead, walked into the street and nearly in front of my car just as I was attempting the turn. I did not look to my right, and for that, I own a degree of culpability. I didn’t see what happened, didn’t feel any kind of bump, she was not even knocked over. I did hear the palm of her hand strike the hood of my car. She immediately began to shriek that I “almost hit her.” In that moment, I was immediately apologetic and felt genuinely horrified that I could have really hurt her. But she would not calm down, and changed her story to “you hit me in the leg and I’m pregnant.” The attendant, who also did not see what happened, advised me to call the police. Which I did. When they arrived, I explained what happened to one officer while the other talked to the young woman. Both came back and told me they looked at her leg, saw no visible injury, and would not issue me a citation but had to write up the report. The officer who had interviewed me said that he didn’t know if she was setting the stage to sue me.

A few weeks later I received a citation for careless driving. I was shocked, as they said they would not issue one, but after discussing the situation with my husband, decided not to fight it. I really should have looked left and right before pulling into the street. We paid.

A few months went by, and then out of the blue our insurance carrier called to tell us that she had filed a lawsuit claiming injury. I explained what I knew had happened and acknowledged that I couldn’t know for sure that I hadn’t knocked into her, but had felt no bump and it seems highly unlikely, especially given that the first words out of her mouth were “you almost hit me” … and given that my 2000 pound car, even inching forward, surely would have knocked her down. Agent told me, frankly, they would probably settle for a few thousand dollars rather than go to the expense of defending in court. He was going to examine the medical record and get back to me. Heard nothing yet. I have an otherwise unblemished driving record, so the agent said it would not affect our premium. I’ll believe that when I see it. Cops had told me they wouldn’t issue a citation, and did.

Second time in my life I have been sued for something … If not frivolous, then obviously exploitative. First was losing grip on my carry-on bag at the airport escalator; it slid down and hit a woman in the hand. She made a huge fuss about her “broken finger” and screamed hideously at me while I was trying, in mortified tears, to apologize profusely to her. My insurance company did manage to get that dismissed as she had no actual injury. They paid her medical bill for her bruised thumb.

So I am wondering if anyone else has a “screw the lawyers who take on these blatant greed cases” stories to share.

How about “screw negligent drivers that don’t watch where they’re driving” stories? You admit not looking where you were going, and you did not contest the ticket. That pretty much means you were negligent.

And speaking of stories, if you’re in the U.S., yours doesn’t make sense. You don’t find out about a lawsuit from your insurance company. You find out about a lawsuit when you get personally served with process…ie, someone hands you a summons and a copy of the complaint. The injured party may have contacted your insurance company about an injury claim, and settlement negotiation may be in progress, but that does not mean a lawsuit has actually been filed. Many minor claims are settled without filing suit.

Even if you hit her in the leg with your penis, that aint how babby made.

Speaking as someone who’s been in the OP’s position (case dismissed with prejudice, woot), that’s what it feels like. Your insurance company calls you and says “the other driver wants to sue, call us when the summons shows up” and that may not be the legally-precise definition of “I found out I’m being sued” but IMO it’s damned close enough for a layperson.

(In my case it was about 3 of those calls almost a year apart and then finally a summons at work in front of a room full of people, over a minor fender-bender that didn’t even set off airbags.)

There are people who make their living with these scams – pretend to be hit by a car and then sue. Insurance companies often settle instead of going to court, which makes it lucrative enough to continue. In fact, the person “injured” will often back down if you let it get into court, since they don’t have much to back up their contention they were injured.

I assure you, I am not making this up. Of course my insurance company would contact me when a claim is filed on my policy. They need to know my side of what happened. He also asked for photos of my (undamaged) car front. Why in the world would I confabulate these events?

And yes, I did acknowledge that I was negligent, as the party operating a potentially lethal weapon, and should have looked left and right. However, I was pulled out nearly into the street and the pedestrian walk was behind me. To walk in front of my car, she walked into the street. Still, I didn’t look. My bad. I am still thankful, every time I think about it, that it didn’t result in serious injury.

But the other side to this story is that, even if all of the planets aligned, and her version of events was 100% true, what she actually suffered was a momentary fright (I believe the ‘I’m pregnant’ remarks were her trying to tell me if she suffered a miscarriage it was my fault, or that her inconvenience was all the more tragic because she was with child). I am disgusted that here in the U.S., lawsuit capital of the world, insurance companies just told and settle for what are, to them, pittances when weighed against the cost of defending a lawsuit. Ripe opportunity for opportunistic fuckwads to exploit (and I’m not referring to the young woman here, but whatever lawyer would take on her obvious scam of a case).

In any event it is a matter beyond my control, so I am not going to spend time stewing over it. Would rather hear other horror stories by which, perhaps, my own pales in comparison.

What scam? You admit negligence, she was injured as a result. Fortunately, it appears that whatever injuries she suffered are relatively minor. I’d take that case if she walked into my office.

If you don’t want to be held liable for such incidents, I suggest you be more careful while driving.

Even if the driver is at fault, I consider it a scam if she’s sued for damages when there was none.

Drivers typically only briefly check that there are no obstacles on the right and then focus on the left to make a right turn to merge onto traffic. I’m sure the driver at least checked her right before pulling out to avoid driving into a parked car. Therefore, it’s likely the pedestrian walked to where the car would turn. The pedestrian should have waited, walked behind the car or made eye contact with the driver. I do not know who is legally at fault, but the pedestrian should not have been where she was, especially if she walked onto the street.

The scam of waiting by the driveway until a driver comes out looking the other direction, then running in front of the car and hitting the hood hard and yelling loudly so that bystanders will look her way and assume that the car hit her. Some of these good Samaritans might even think they’re doing good by telling her not to worry because they saw the car hit her.

I do not believe for a second that I actually hit her. First, she said that I “almost” hit her. She changed her story when the parking garage attendant came to ask what was going on. Second, I felt no impact at all other than her hand slapping the hood of my car. Third, she was not knocked down by a 2000 pound car inching forward. Finally, the police officers checked her for injury and noted none: not a scratch or bruise or even so much as a scuff mark from being “hit” by a dusty car. She was not hit. She suffered no injury. What I do know is that she did go to the doctor, because my insurance company, while not acknowledging fault, agreed to pay that bill as she claimed no insurance. I was told that this is the law in Minnesota. And yes, despite your sneery attitude about my “negligence”, I have also acknowledged I should have looked before moving. Such a thing did not occur to me as the pedestrian walk was BEHIND me, and in FRONT of me was the street. Are you suggesting that she had no responsibility here? Assuming that I actually HAD hit her? If you would take such a case, then you are responsible for exploiting the system that we all eventually pay an enormous price for, including people who never make mistakes and always look both ways down a one-way street when they are already pulled out INTO the street. We all pay those higher premiums so ambulance chasers and loophole seekers can line their own damn pockets. This girl will probably get a thousand dollars for a doctor’s report that very likely reads “patient complains of a sore leg.” Her lawyer will pocket the other half of that, along with proceeds from the other scams that he/she have going on.

It did not occur to me to NOT take responsibility. Just as it has never occured to me to fake whiplash the several times in my life when other “careless” drivers rear-ended me. I don’t look to scam or exploit others. Had I been the pedestrian in the same situation highlighted above… damn right, I’d be mad. Scared. In shock even, at the almost catastrophe. But given that I was not injured, and the driver was apologetic and acknowledged she didn’t see me, I damn sure would not have SUED for being INCONVENIENCED. And if I made a living suing on behalf of other scammers, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

This is exactly what happened. Where did you hear about this? I would love to know so I can ask my agent to check to see if she has been “hit” under other circumstances before.

I’ve actually seen it happen twice. Both times, I told the potential mark what I saw, then I waited around to give a report to the police.

Your insurance company knows all about it.

I witnessed an accident. Yup, here is it.

If they know all about it, then why did my agent openly acknowledge that they’d probably throw a few thousand dollars at her to make it go away? I understand upfront cost of defending a suit vs settling a claim, but over time, wouldn’t it make better fiscal sense to establish a reputation with ambulance chasers as one who plays hardball? I assume once they know there is no cash cow with that particular agency, they’d stop trying to milk it, and wouldn’t be able to offer their clients the “You pay nothing now!!! We’ll just help ourselves to most of your settlement!!” option. Which would also make about 99% of these frivolous claims vanish, if said client had to dig into own pockets to pay the legal fees up front.

That “acknowledgement” doesn’t pay any medical bills, now does it? What it does do is admit liability. Which your insurance company will now cover.

No. I’m suggesting you are more at fault than she is. [discussion of comparative negligence law omitted]

No. You don’t have to have actually hit her to have caused injury. She may have twisted a knee or ankle trying to move out of the way. She may have been jacked up with adrenaline in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and not felt pain until later.

Highly unlikely that the lawyer would get half…unless the case goes to trial, and possibly an appeal. Typical contingency fee arrangements are for a third, give or take depending on whether a lawsuit is filed, goes to trial, etc.

Accepting responsibility means paying compensation for the damages you caused. Which is exactly what you’re complaining about in this thread.

Goody for you. Your victim chose otherwise, as is her legal right.

You calling this woman a scammer umpteen times does not make it true.

The bulk of my practice is family law and criminal defense, but if a PI case with clear liability and insurance walks in to my office, you bet your ass I’ll take it.

Wish someone like you had been around to witness mine. The parking attendant didn’t see what happened with mine, but based on how out-of-control the young woman was acting, he advised me to call the police before she did. Inbetween screaming at me for not watching where I was going, she was also shrieking into her cell phone at what sounded like a friend or maybe her mother (she was bleating “don’t tell me to calm down”). I did thank him afterwards for his advice. And he could at least confirm to the police that my vehicle was pulled out in front of the pedestrian walkway, which is also on the report.

[quote=“Oakminster, post:16, topic:663809”]

That “acknowledgement” doesn’t pay any medical bills, now does it? What it does do is admit liability. Which your insurance company will now cover.

No. I’m suggesting you are more at fault than she is. [discussion of comparative negligence law omitted]

No. You don’t have to have actually hit her to have caused injury. She may have twisted a knee or ankle trying to move out of the way. She may have been jacked up with adrenaline in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and not felt pain until later.

Highly unlikely that the lawyer would get half…unless the case goes to trial, and possibly an appeal. Typical contingency fee arrangements are for a third, give or take depending on whether a lawsuit is filed, goes to trial, etc.


It did not occur to me to NOT take responsibility.

Yep. You’re a lawyer. You see cash signs before any real concern for what any reasonable person would admit is at least highly suspicious behavior of the “victim” (why does it matter that I have insurance, if this tragically injured young victim could prove my liability?). What I am beginning to understand is that I was all kinds of stupid, admitting to the police that I didn’t look again to my right before pulling out. I looked to my right before crossing the pedestrian walk. I should have simply massaged my language, as you are paid to do, and told a technical truth while not fully disclosing the facts. I should have insisted, being that there were no witnesses, and a friendly parking garage attendant who was disgusted by her antics, that there was NO POSSIBLE WAY that I could have hit her, rather than acknowledging that there was a possibility because I wasn’t looking. But you see, I have a conscience, and in the shock and heat of the moment, I was genuinely remorseful and concerned first and foremost that I could have hurt her, and rather than protecting my ass, I hopped out of my car and apologized to her and asked her if she was hurt. I wasn’t texting while driving or applying lip gloss or eating a messy fast food dinner. I just made a (flawed) assumption that pedestrians would cross in the pedestrian walk, and not in the STREET andbin front of a car where the driver was looking the other way and waiting for other cars to pass before pulling out into SAME STREET she was walking in. Though I am beginning to doubt that she was ever in the street at all, and SAW that my head was turned.

Yes, her medical bills should be paid, whether she had an injury or not. If young woman in question was employed and sustained an injury that would have caused her to miss a day of work, then my insurance should compensate for that as well. But a few thousand dollars for pain and suffering?!?! Are you really caught up in the system so much that you cannot see the difference between what legal loopholes should be exploited, and what a person with any kind of moral compass should NOT exploit?

You know that the likelihood of an actual injury is very low. Come on. YOU KNOW IT. Semantics and legalize prose aside, you know it. She didn’t SAY that she hopped aside to avoid being hit and twisted her ankle in the process. She said, to me, “You almost hit me! I can’t believe you almost hit me!” And when I hopped out of my car to apologize, as the parking attendant arrived, and asked what happened (and to ask me to move my car aside) she changed her story to, “She wasn’t watching where she was going and she hit me!” And per the accident report, claims that vehicle struck her in the left leg" and that she was experiencing “slight pain” and that she would be seeking non-emergency medical care.

Because if you don’t have insurance, it’s probably not worth it for me to pursue a claim from a business point of view, unless you have significant unencumbered non-exempt assets.

In my jurisdiction, settlement value is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-5 times medical bills, plus lost wages. That’s not unreasonable, when you figure in the cost of recovery. Say she had $1000 in medical bills. Case settles for $3000. Attorney gets a third, another third goes to pay the meds, she puts $1000 in her pocket. Maybe less, if the lawyer has expenses like filing fees, service of process fees, depositions, etc.

No, I don’t know that the likelihood of an actual injury is very low. She’s a pregnant woman, and she’s experiencing “slight pain” on the scene of the accident. That slight pain could be anything from a minor bruise to a serious hip/knee/ankle problem. What do the medical records show?
If you really think she’s a scammer, suggest your insurance company check with the parking garage, and maybe nearby businesses, to see if anybody has any security video that may have captured the incident. They might find something that supports your side of the story.

I don’t know what the medical records say, and don’t think I will ever know. My agent told me he was going to review the medical records when he received them, and a decision would be made from there on a settlement. He said he would not be able to tell me much about her medical records due to data privacy. I asked, because stupid me, I wanted to know if I had really hurt her.
I did not know before today that this is a common scam. I always suspected that she was opportunistically lying, but thought that I opened myself up to that by not double checking before pulling out. Now I think it is very likely she was LOOKING for someone like me. FWIW the police report did not mention pregnancy and she would have been in the first trimester if pregnant. I did not think she was lying, and assumed the police may have thought that irrelevant rather than the possibility that she didn’t disclose an untruth that could be verified. Now I wonder if she said it in hopes of getting the attendant to “see” that she had been hit.

And you made my point for me about what motivates ambulance chasers to take on injury cases and how pursuit of the almighty dollar in that subset of the profession is feeding the scam machine. A lawyer will only take a case if there is a reasonable chance of hitting the payout jackpot. You mentioned another area of law as your specialty so I am not splattering you with that title, but do have a generally high level of skepticism about the profession on a whole.