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Determining fault from an insurance company's perspective
by Richard Lindsey
(Austin, TX, USA)
I was in an accident 3 days ago, a driver sitting in line in the oncoming lane decided not to wait any longer, and made an illegal u-turn into my lane about 50 yards in front of me, while I was doing close to 60mph... I braked and I swerved, but I couldn't avoid him, my front left fender impacted with his front right, and I went off the shoulder into the grass, then got back on the shoulder and stopped...
The sheriff that showed up to make a report got our stories, and while he was examining my vehicle's damage, told me that the other driver would be listed "at fault" for making an illegal u-turn...
After filing my claim initially, I was told the next day that the other driver is submitting a different set of events (as is almost always the case I'm guessing), that he had completed the u-turn, I swerved to avoid him, off into the grass, came back onto the road, and sideswiped him, then went back offroad and on before coming to a stop...
Given that it's now a word against word situation (we weren't able to stop anybody to file a report as a witness), I'd like to know how the insurance companies will determine the fault for this accident? How obligated are they to go by the police report that lists him as being at fault? Will each company just take the word of their claimant as gospel?
I would imagine if it were that easier to get out of paying, then they'd almost never have to pay a cent since there are always going to be conflicting stories... Will they use the damage done to the vehicles themselves to try to determine who was at fault, and who is lying about it?
Also, while there isn't a lot of visible external damage, mostly just my front left fender and that tire, how do I make sure that they'll be liable for all internal damage that was done as well? I know there has to be some, I had to hold my steering wheel a little cock-eyed to drive straight on the way home, and the whole thing is shaky and spluttery now...
Thanks in advance :)
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