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Accident Liability

by James

I was involved in an accident on January 30, 2008; the accident happened on a freeway off-ramp with three lanes, far left is a left turn only lane, middle lane is left turn and to go straight, right lane is right turn and to go straight.

I was in the middle lane making a left turn, and the other party was in the far left lane, while making my left i was struck by the other car.

I made a claim with my insurance and up to November of 2008 my insurance company proceeded as if this was an uninsured motorist claim since the other driver did not have proof of insurance and refused to give me her insurance when i called her the next day. I just recently found out the other drive had insurance, and she said i hit her and i gave her insurance a statement early December 2008.

Now they are saying it is 100% my fault due to an unsafe lane change when i was not making a lane change i was turning left.

Is there any way i can contest this decision, and how is it possible my insurance company did not contact her insurance earlier, i was told they contacted the dmv to find her registration and insurance information?

I understand its hard for the insurance company to know who is at fault but i feel its unfair they will be so quick to say im at fault when i made a claim right away after the accident when the other drive never made a claim, her insurance had to contact her to let her know about the claim i made,

she admitted she was not familiar with the area and i drive there every other day, also during all this i have had very little contact with my insurance is it possible that the other party insurance find me at fault while my insurance does not?.

Thanks for your time and i apologize if this was a confusing read.


Hello James,

The delay in filing the claim could make things a little difficult (finding independent witnesses, contacting the DMV for the registered vehicles etc).

Your situation is quite common however. Insurance companies MUST believe their clients. They have a duty to advocate for them only. If there is no evidence that you did not change lanes, or that she came into your lane, they must believe her story (if the damages could be consistent with her story).

Your insurance company has a duty to believe you. They already found the other driver 100% at fault (or they would not have applied the Uninsured Property Damage coverage, (which only applies to the percentage of negligence of the uninsured driver).

Your insurance company has tools to find if there is a possible insurance company out there for that vehicle, but it is not 100% fool proof. They decided to cover the claim and move on.

Everyone seems to be doing what they were supposed to.

Now, you will have one insurance company saying you have 0% liability on this mess, and one saying that you have 100% liability. Your insurance company will take this to arbitration (most insurance companies belong to an arbitration panel to resolve disputes like this one).

Your insurance company will present your case, their will present theirs, and the independent arbitrator will make a biding decision that cannot be appealed.

Therefore the next step is up to the two insurance to decide which driver is at fault.

I hope this clears up the process.

Good Luck,

Follow up Question

is it in my favor that i contacted my insurance company (AAA)shortly after the accident, a couple days at most to make a statement about the accident as opposed to the other driver who never contacted her insurance and thus did not make a statement until recently, 10months after the accident occurred.

And she also stated to her insurance that she was unfamiliar with the, which i live 2-3 miles away from and take that same turn every other day at least. also should i even bother talking to her insurance or is it better to only talk to my insurance?


Hi James,

Well, you can certainly make the argument that you are familiar with the area and she is not. Legally speaking, that argument does not have a lot of weight.

Negligence is composed of 4 elements. Duty, Breach, Causation and Damages. The argument you are raising would fall down on the element of Causation. Read more about Causation at:

Basically, just because some is lost or has never been in a certain road, it does not necessarily equate to them being at fault for an accident.

It will help your argument, however by itself it will not suffice.

Regarding the issues about reporting the claim. The longer she waits then the less likely she remembers exactly what happened. Nevertheless, the fact that she did not report the claim or did anything does not add to her negligence. Again, the Causation element would not be present.

With that being said, you can make the argument and try to convince them of your point of view. They are good and sound arguments. They would not stand in a court of law, but they can change the mind of an adjuster.

Should you only talk to you own insurance? Well, that is up to you. Usually, they only want to get your statement and then they make a decision. If they won't believe you or they have declined your claim, there is no reason to talk to them.

Help you own insurance so you can win in arbitration. The decision is all up to you.

Thank you.

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