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95% collision liability?
Earlier this month I was involved in a car accident whereby the other driver, coming from a side street where she had a stop sign and I had none, pulled in front of me to make a left turn (I was headed northbound on a highway, she was turning onto the southbound lanes coming from the east).
I was not speeding, I saw her pull across my lane, hit my horn and brakes and after checking there was no oncoming traffic I crossed the yellow line and she plowed into my my front right bumper, fender and door. Had I not swerved because I was either speeding or there was oncoming traffic, this person would've gone into the hospital as the front of my car plowed into her driver's seat. How lucky for her I had such a good driver's ed teacher back in the day.
I called cops, insurance, etc. I pursued through her insurance. They call me today, the highest they can offer is 95% her fault, and oh what a good deal that is, because she said I was speeding and she had an obstructed view.
I asked how she is qualified to judge my speed, and I am mad because in fact I was absolutely not speeding. And I asked how her "obstructed view" affects my liability since it seems that if she is 95% liable then what part of that is my 5%?
Suppose I tell the insurance company to forget it and I want the 100%, what do I do? The insurance adjuster insisted this is his highest allowable amount (he raised it from 90% with my first utterance of complete disbelief).
And anyway, I could see in some (other) case a 50/50 liability, even 2/3. But what in the world is 95% liability? It honestly sounds like a scam so that at the end of the fiscal year, the insurance company can tell their shareholders that they saved x millions because they saved at least 5% of their liability expenses.
Thanks for your advice and insight.
Answer: to 95% collision liability?
You are absolutely right. It is a scam. Liability off-sets or splits are appropriate when both drivers contributed in someway to the accident (as you said 50 - 50 or 80-20). They have to prove that you did not follow the rules of the road, that you were speeding, or that you fail to lookout.
Your account shows that you had all the elements present. You were doing everything a reasonable driver would do in the same situation. Your have looked at all the elements of negligence correctly. For more information about fault visit:
Why 5%? As your instinct tell us, it is about numbers for the adjuster and the insurance company. If they pay 95% of damages in every other claim, how many millions of dollars do they save? The interesting thing is that the insurance company loses more money by the time wasted arguing with you over the phone about the 5% split.
That also does not account for the people that get completely mad and run to the doctor to document an injury claim. Many people attitude is: if you do not treat me right (pay the damages to m my car), you will have to pay for my medical visits also.
Not a good approach, however I can see the point. The insurance company wants to short change you 5% but they ended up making themselves more harm than good by having to pay neck injuries, chiropractor visits, pain and suffering, etc.
Now remember that if the other driver is 95% at fault, you are also 5% at fault. Depending on your state, this may mean that you have to pay her 5% of her damages.
So now what, what can you do?
You have two options.
1. assuming that you have insurance and full coverage on your own policy (collision and comprehensive), you can file a claim with them and have them defend you (for the 5%) and then go to Arbitration and dispute the case. In many of the arbitration panels that I sat on, a stop sign and a front bumper impact would put her 100% at fault (based solely on the facts that you gave me).
The argument that her visibility was not good only makes her case worse. If visibility is bad for one driver, it is very often the case that is bad for both drivers. In addition, if visibility is bad, the duty is on her (because of the stop sign) to stop and proceed with extra caution. This duty is not on you as you have the right of way.
The city probably put the stop sign there for that same reason. Bad visibility requires that she stops and LOOKS before going.
2. You probably have to file a claim because of "5%" negligence that they are claiming against you. Your insurance company has to deal with the "defense" of that 5% and pay if you lose. However, you can take the case to court.
Depending on how expensive your repairs are and your state small claims limit (some states will let you take a small claims court case up to $7,000, some others will only let you do it for $2,000).
Putting this in front of judge and showing why you are 0% at fault is sometimes much easier than dealing with pesky adjusters trying to short change you and trying to increase their yearly bonuses and perks.
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