Car totaled, the other driver was at fault. Can I sue?

Q: Since I owed more on car than actual cash value, after settling my car note on totaled vehicle, I now have no car, which I need for work. Can I sue for distress or inconvenience? (West Mifflin, PA)

A: Your vehicle coverage is based on the value of the car, not on what you owe. If you were injured you can sue for pain, suffering, inconvenience and lost wages. I would consult with a personal injury attorney.

I bumped car his at 3 mph with no insurance.

Q: I was at red light. The light changed, and I drifted into car in front of me who started moving and then stopped. There was no visible damage to his car and none to mine at all. called. The police who said to stay in car until they got there because he was so mean to me. Now he is calling me to find out how I want to handle THE DAMAGE to his car. He had mentioned he was in a prior accident two months ago and lady hit him and gave him wrong info and “he isn’t going to get taken again”. I only drifted into him. I am totally afraid of him. I did not have the insurance at 12:00pm. I just went home and paid the premium. I forgot to pay it. If he was in accident before. There was no police report even written and the police had to get his information for me. (McKeesport, PA)

A: You need to verify that you had or did not have motor vehicle insurance. Just because you missed a payment or two does not mean they terminated your coverage. Call to be sure. If you are insured, report the accident and give them the information. They will handle it. If you are certain you did not have insurance at the time, you need to get ready for his potential claim. Gather your evidence. Make a written log of events, get the police report, log or accident report. If possible without trespassing or creating a disturbance, photograph the back end of his car. If he sues and you are not insured, do not ignore the papers that come in the mail. Take them to a lawyer and see if one can defend you at a reasonable cost.

Can I recover for air bag that never deployed?

Q: I was rear-ended and broke my nose on the steering wheel. The air bags never deployed. Is that normal? Do I have a possible law suit for time missed at work, medical bills, suffering, etc. Is it a possible defect by manufacturer? Is that normal when rear-ended? (Bridgeville, PA)

A: Generally, when you are hit from behind you have a good case unless your claim is devalued by your contribution such as sudden stopping or reckless maneuvering. You can obtain an award for some types of medical expenses and possibly non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of life’s pleasures. Air bag cases are a bit more difficult. Do front airbags deploy in rear end collisions? Was there a recall that you were unaware of? If you pursue such a claim, you will need to have an expert, likely a forensic mechanic, examine the car to determine what caused the problem. If you go this way, you will need to preserve this car until it is examined by your expert. With serious accidents, some insurance companies and plaintiff’s attorney have the car impounded and seal it in plastic wrap to preserve the evidence. You need to see a personal injury attorney who also handles product liability.