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I was at fault in a minor car accident and the other driver was already injured (after another crash, 1-2 weeks before my accident).

Who is responsible for paying the hospital costs of the other driver, me or the one that caused the other accident?

My accident was bumper to bumper after stopping at an intersection. The other driver told me she was still hurting after the prior car accident and therefore called the police and fire department, to be safe.

I found out that my foreign driver's license was not good enough since I had lived in the country for too long (I had borrowed a friend's car and didn't know I wasn't allowed to drive), so the insurance won't pay. It sounds like the insurance company is going to let me pay for the other person's medical bills, even though this was just a minor accident and would never have hurt a healthy person. I have not been notified the amount I am supposed to pay since the other person is still receiving medical treatment.

This happened in BC, Canada, but still interesting to hear what it is like in other countries if nothing available from Canada.

Addition - clarification

I am not looking for direct legal advice (unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean). I just want to know who should pay when a person gets into two accidents in a row. Is it the one that was at fault in the first one or in the one that is at fault in the second one, especially when the second one was a minor accident and would not have caused damages if it wasn't for the first one (and probably didn't cause any damages, but hard to prove)

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    Find a lawyer; this site is not for direct legal advice. Your issue has nothing to do with the two accidents; it has everything to do with your one accident that was your fault, the fact that you shouldn't have been driving, and the fact that other persons' lawyer can put you into debt for many years. Try lss.bc.ca – BlueDogRanch Feb 25 '18 at 21:52
  • I am not looking for direct legal advice (unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean). I just want to know who should pay when a person gets into two accidents in a row. Is it the one that was at fault in the first one or in the one that is at fault in the second one, especially when the second one was a minor accident and would not have caused damages if it wasn't for the first one (and probably didn't cause any damages, but hard to prove) – Andri Feb 25 '18 at 21:57
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    Could you please edit your question to reflect that clarification? – feetwet Feb 25 '18 at 22:51
  • @feetwet ok, added that to the question – Andri Feb 25 '18 at 23:36
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You'd be responsible for the damage you caused. Sometimes the damage is worse than it usually would be in similar situations - as in your example, where hitting a car might have caused much more damage than usual to a passenger, because that passenger was injured earlier. But still, you caused the damage, you (or your insurance) have to pay for it.

Even in a situation where you caused an accident where a healthy victim would have walked away without damage, any damage that you inflicted on an unhealthy victim is your fault and your responsibility.

To your comment: Yes, you would be liable for the damage that you caused, which would be the total damage, minus the damage caused by the first accident. If the treatment were slightly more expensive in the first four weeks because of the second accident you'd pay the difference, and if the treatment was need four twelve instead of eight weeks, you'd pay fully for the last four weeks.

It may be difficult to figure out how much damage exactly was caused by you. In the UK, it wouldn't matter much in practice as long as the insurance pays, because your insurance premiums go up the same no matter how much or how little they pay, and insurance companies tend not to sue each other for these things (because they would sometimes win and sometimes lose in court, but they would always lose the cost for the lawyers, which makes it statistically cheaper not to argue).

  • I'll add the same comment here as I did with @user6726's answer: Would that mean that if the person was already seeking treatment after the previous accident, for simplification, let's say she was paying $500 a week (including loss of work etc.) and after the second accident she would pay $550 and the doctor would estimate that instead of treatment taking 8 weeks it would take 12 weeks. Would I then have to pay $50 a week for the first 8 weeks and then $550 for 4 weeks? – Andri Feb 25 '18 at 23:42
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The general principle regarding liability is that you are responsible for the damages that you caused. If you smack a car and caused $100 dollars of damage, that is what you owe. If, previously, someone else smacked the car and caused $1,000 worth of damage, they are liable to that extent – and not the sum of the two amounts. Liability does not transfer to "the most recent person causing damage".

This would include reasonable medical care, and in the context of a previous accident of some significance, the injured party is entitled to considerable leeway in investigative medicine, because they are in an already fragile condition and you may have cracked their eggshell-thin skull. Apart from the cost of the immediately post-accident checkup (if one is deemed necessary), your liability would depend on professional testimony regarding the second accident. If the nature of the second injury required an additional 4 weeks of medical care and time off work, you would be liable for those 4 weeks. If the second injury made the treatment more expensive by $50/week, you would be liable for that $50 from the time of the accident (so, $400 if the total time to recovery is 8 weeks – as you describe in the comment).

  • Would that mean that if the person was already seeking treatment after the previous accident, for simplification, let's say she was paying $500 a week (including loss of work etc.) and after the second accident she would pay $550 and the doctor would estimate that instead of treatment taking 8 weeks it would take 12 weeks. Would I then have to pay $50 a week for the first 8 weeks and then $550 for 4 weeks? – Andri Feb 25 '18 at 23:42
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You are responsible for the injury(s) you caused or exacerbated, the person liable for the previous accident is liable for the injury(s) that they caused.

Unfortunately, how much of what each is responsible for is likely to be contentious. If the extent of the injury in the first instance is minor but it put the person in a more vulnerable position then the eggshell rule applies: they second person is responsible for all of the damage.

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