Everyone always hears about terms such as insurance fraud, but very few people really understand just how easily someone can be victimized and it be made to look like it was actually the victim’s fault. Because it’s sometimes hard for officers to determine what actually happened in a collision after the fact, there are some hard and fast rules that assign blame even though, in some cases, those rules shouldn’t apply.
Imagine my surprise when I rear-ended someone, who had to be around 100 feet in front of me, in the short time it took me to check my blind spot to change lanes. I later learned that the driver of the vehicle had been using a tactic that is often practiced, where they drive very slowly in the left hand lane and watch their rear view mirror for someone looking to change lanes in order to slam on the brakes, causing an accident that appears to be the fault of the one behind.
At first glance, the situation looked hopeless. Although our bumpers were barely damaged, the driver of the other vehicle was claiming severe neck pain, and I knew they were trying to get something for nothing out of my insurance. By the time the officer arrived, I was hopping mad, and I suppose it showed. Obviously my mood did not improve when the officer handed me the citation.
I did the only thing I could think to do. I called an attorney and asked for help. The first attorney I talked to had no experience in this type of situation, but very kindly referred me to one who did. Things began looking much better from there. One of the first questions my attorney asked was whether there were any witnesses and I remembered that there had indeed been someone who actually stopped and gave me his name and phone number. I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time because, at that moment, I still thought the fault lay in the other driver. After a quick search of the pants that I had worn that day, I found the very faded and thoroughly washed piece of paper that was, thankfully, still barely readable. Shortly before my court date, another Seattle attorney who was a colleague of my lawyer revealed that he had handled a case in which this same person had been rear-ended, only a year before, under similar circumstances.
Combining the witnesses testimony that the other driver had slammed on the brakes well before I hit her with the testimony from the previous case where her last victim had accused her of the same thing was all it took. We didn’t even have to go to jury — the judge saw through the facade instantly, and the case was dismissed.
It took three of them, but I’m happy to share my story of how Seattle attorneys helped me. Without their expertise, I could’ve ended up being the one sued. Instead, we’ve filed a counter-suit for court fees and to have my front bumper repainted.