Re: Taken to Small Claims Court for Accident, But Not at Fault
I realize that you only requested suggestions as to how you should conduct your case... The only thing I can offer in that regards is that you should have reported this incident to your insurer.
With that being said, here are a few points that your wife should try to avoid arguing or even bringing up as she defends herself so as to limit or try to minimize the apparent liability that she might be blamed for. While these might not directly help her case, having an answer ready for these arguments might limit her liability by some amount eventhough it might be little:
MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE - Act 300 of 1949Considering the fact that your wife's presence on that roadway/highway stripped the other driver's privilege of his/her immediate/normal use of the highway, and caused him/her to have to suddenly brake thereby marking the pavement, that would suggest that she failed to yield the right of way to the other driver.
257.53 “Right-of-way” defined.
“Right-of-way” means the privilege of the immediate use of the highway.
Here are a few more pertinent sections/excerpts from the Michigan Vehicle Code:
Subsection 6 will work against any argument that might help clear your wife of any liability. As for subsection 5, and in the minute chance that you can somehow prove that the other driver was driving above the speed limit, then that might work to benefit your case. 257.649 Right-of-way; rules; violation as civil infraction.
(5) The driver of a vehicle traveling at an unlawful speed shall forfeit a right of way which the driver might otherwise have under this section.
(6) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is not a crosswalk shall stop at a clearly marked stop line; or if there is not a crosswalk or a clearly marked stop line, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right of way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on the highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when the driver would be moving across or within the intersection.
BUT... considering the fact that there were no citations issued, the fact that the other driver was coming uphill all while towing a trailer, you'd be hard pressed to have any ability to reasonably assume that he was driving at a speed higher than the limit.
Lastly, the fact that the other driver's vehicle did not collide with your wife's does not necessarily mean that she was not negligent by her actions. There are hundreds of drivers who get cited for failing to yield the right of way irrespective of whether a collision had occurred or not.
Sorry I could not help you in any other way. Best of luck!
I am right 97% of the time... Who cares about the other 4%!