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The point of arbitration VS accepting liability?

by Rob
(Kirkland, Washington, USA)

I was in an accident where a very young driver reversed into the side of my car.
The accident took place in a parking lot I was driving through.

She struck my car as I drove past her car (she was parked in a space and at a standstill before I moved past her car).

She reversed straight out, I imagine without looking and hit my car dead middle.
She was extremely apologetic at first and offered to pay for the damages, and as happens, she gradually began to change her mind, especially when the estimate on repairs for my car reached over 2 thousand dollars as so many panels had been struck simultaniously.

I maintained in my statement that I hadn't seen her car approaching, and that she wasn't moving before I moved into her line of fire, and in all honesty I hadn't seen her car at all as she was out of my peripheral vision at the time of impact.

Her insurance company put me at 20 percent fault, stating that it was as much my responsibility to avoid the accident as it was hers, but I feel this is incredibly unfair as I had literally no time to react, and would need a car that could drive sideways to avoid such a collision.

For what it's worth, no one I speak to regarding this matter can believe I've been held at all accountable for such a young driver reversing into me from a point of being parked, as this shows so clearly she wasn't looking where she was going at all either before moving the car or during.

My question really is this:

Her insurance company has sent me a check for my damages (obviously minus the 20 percent they're claiming is my fault).

My options are as I understand it, to accent liability and cash the check, and hope to find somewhere who will repair for this amount or less, or pay the 500 dollar deductible and allow the claim to go into arbitration to obtain a lower figure of accountability.

Can I ask what is the best way to go here?

A 500 dollar outgoing for me right now would be extremely unfortunate to say the least and yet I am also concerned about the future implications of accepting this 20 percent liability.

Is there any point in not cashing the check and accepting the fault considering there were no medical bills, or am I missing something here?

Is there any way of knowing the likely outcome to an accident of this kind should it go to arbitration?
My loss adjustor at the time (though I now have a different one) did mention that if they're prepared to start at a 20 percent fault, then it would very likely be reduced further and possibly be made entirely her fault considering the point of impact and surrounding circumstances, etc...But I'm just a mess of questions and don't know which route to go.

Any advice would be great.
Pros and cons, etc.

Many, many thanks.

Rob Lawrence.


Hello Rob,

To see the pros and cons of arbitration, please visit:

Parking lot accidents are difficult. You do have a duty to look out and avoid an accident. If you did not see her, then it can be presume that you were not paying attention. If this is the case, you would be at fault for at least a portion.

The situation will turn on whether she was 100% at fault or not. Her adjuster will defend, your adjuster will also.

Remember, if you are 20% at fault, this means that you owe her for 20% of her damages (Washington is a pure comparative negligence state). Your adjuster will have to defend you.

What happens if they do not settle? – they go to arbitration. It does not matter what you think of if you would like or not to go. It is both insurance companies in the dispute. Regarding your chances of winning, you will have to talk to your adjuster about that (need all information to make this type of assessment).

The fact that she accepted fault means little or nothing in the insurance world. Many people apologize because they feel bad, not because they are at fault (they probably do not know the elements of negligence).

Cashing the check might or might not settle the claim, depending on what kind of language the check has in it. If the language states that this is the release of any and all claims, then it might release all your rights.

You will have to take the check to an attorney and see what effect cashing this check would have.

We hope this helps some,
Good Luck

Comments for The point of arbitration VS accepting liability?

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Mar 13, 2009
by: Hector

Well, once again, I do not have a straight answer. This is very frustrating because many consumer, like yourself, would like to know what the impact is going to be and see if they be better of to settle out of insurance.

The issues is that adjusters and agents will not tell you as they do not know. They only people that do know is the underwriting department - the ones that take a look at risk.

Sounds like you have a very strong record (with classes and everything) so you should not necessarily be penalized in such a way that you will not be able to insure your car.

We believe every claim will have an impact (it shows more risk to the insurance company - or at least gives them argument that it does) and the question really is how much will this impact my rates?

Several factors will be taken into account, like how many claims you had (claim history), how much damage you caused, injuries, etc. If this is your first claim, this might not be too much of a concern.


Regarding your believe that if you pay the deductible, this will go to arbitration... There is one way this will not go, and that is if both insurance companies end up paying nothing (or they settle).

This could happen if your damages are below your deductible (or you have no collision), and she has only liability. Her insurance will not pay her (no collision) and your insurance company will not pay you if you are under your deductible (or you have no collision coverage).

At any rate, if she had damages and coverage, they will go after you for those 20%, and if your damages are more than your deductible, the insurance company will have to take it up to arb.

Not sure if this answers the question of rates, but we recommend that you get a quote while the claim is pending and one after (to compare the two). This way you will for sure be able to tell how your rates are impacted. You have nothing to lose (quotes are free) and you might even find a substantial discount... We recommend this site:

Good Luck

Mar 13, 2009
by: Anonymous

This raises a lot more questions than I think I anticipated.

I've been lead to believe that my paying the 500 ded would make this goto arbitration, and my cashing of their check would waive my rights to dispute. Basically it will agree with their verdict.

Asking my loss adjuster about my chances should this goto arbitration have resulted in her saying "no idea, frankly. It's a crap shoot..." and is how I found your site.

The only way I can really make sense of not seeing her car is that I was travelling at a pretty slow speed.
I can only presume she put the car into reverse once my hood was in the way of her reverse lights and she just came straight out.
It's a small parking lot and the couple of feet between was covered in an instant.

I'm an intensely careful driver with a ton of experience, and a motorcycle permit owner to boot with a safety course or two under my belt which focus on exactly this kind of defensive driving situations...Not seeing a reversing car or even a car threatening to maybe possibly reverse just isn't really what I deem likely in my day to day motoring...I feel very taken advantage of, frankly for being the sap who was in the wrong place at the wrong time with no way to prove it.

The only question I think that is remaining is, how will this likely effect my future insurance rates/anything else financial to accept 20 percent liability?

Many thanks again.

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