Auto Insurance Claims/50/50 accident liability, right of way
QUESTION: I have recently been in an accident in which a driver coming across the intersection in a 90 degree angle from me hit my car. Even though I had the green light when the police came the driver stated that he had the green light. The police report states that the police is unable to determine who was at fault because there are no witnesses and it's he said she said type of situation.
Both of our insurance companies determined that the cars are totalled although I do have an estimate that my car can be repaired for roughly $4900. However, I only have liability and since it is a 50/50 fault his insurance company does not want to pay for any repairs to my car. The adjuster never came out to see my car or to do a diagram of the street.
So my question is what should I do? Should I do after my or his insurance company and continue to argue with them? Should I file a small claim against him or his insurance company? And if I do what are my chances of winning this?
ANSWER: Aloha, Natasa,
I forgot to put myself out on vacation on this website, so I am writing from Maui, and worse, this is our "clean-up-the-condo-wash-everything-and-get-ready-to-go" day. We leave early tomorrow, so I want to get as much out to you today as possible. If you wanted a allexperts.com discount on our for selecting me, I could help with that right away!
But I PROMISE to get back with you tonight—or, if you have not yet answered the questions I am going to ask you, then it will have to wait until Sunday since tomorrow is a full, long day of travel.
Meantime, here is what I want you to do:
Can you please use this same Q&A format to provide me some additional information?
#1. If there had been no light, in other words, an uncontrolled intersection, who had the right of way under your state law. Call your local DMV licensing office if you do not know. Usually, the car approaching from the right has the right of way. I cannot tell from your description whether he hit your driver's or passenger's side.
FYI, our insurance claim help website WWW.SettlementCentral.Com teaches accident injury victims how to make a good insurance settlement--and since SettlementCentral.Com is a Seattle company, I am giving you the law from the state of Washington--probably your state will have something like this:
Washington state law under RCW 46.61.180 says:
"When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right."
#2. DO NOT WORRY if in fact you were what we call the burdened car (e.g. you had the burden to yield the ROW). We will not raise this issue UNLESS you were entitled to the ROW. And in any event it is not a controlling argument to make - but just something we would add to your side.
#3. What is his company and what is your company?
#4. What state and city was the accident in--or another possibility, what city does he live in? Reason being twofold:
#4A. Of minimal importance, this will allow me to research the small claims court setup for you.
#4B. The name of the state is most important because that will tell me whether you live in a so-called "RED STATE" or a "BLUE STATE"---and THAT, dear VOTER---will tell me whether or not the third party adjuster is correct: they may not owe you a dime if you live in some of the RED STATES. You see, in BLUE STATES, the legislature is more inclined to consider the needs of the citizens for redress of bodily injuries in auto accidents.
Thus, in progressive states, like Washington, you can make a claim versus him even if you were well over 50% at fault. But in RED STATES, the legislature is in bed with the insurance industry, so you can expect that your opportunity to bring a claim versus him could be eliminated by statute. We will call those RED STATES conservative Republican states because their legislators have heeded the demands of the insurance industry and thereby reduced the opportunity of accident victims to bring claims.
For example if you lived in Alabama or North Carolina, you have ABSOLUTELY no chance of bringing a claim with any degree of comparative negligence on your part. If you lived in (note here, Natasa—I am using “lived in” to be the same as the place where the accident occurred—which is usually the case—but let me know the state where you live, where he lives, and where the accident occurred—OK?)---oh, I was saying if you lived in states like Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, Utah, and so forth, and your negligence is 50%, you cannot bring a claim because voters in those states have elected representatives to their statehouse who have sided with the insurance industry and ELIMINATED any chance of bringing a claim if one is 50% at fault.
So bottomline on this issue is that your chances of collecting anything will depend upon what your voters have done in electing their statehouse legislators. What we are aiming for is a BLUE STATE, where there is a better chance you would have the right to bring an action, even if you were 50% or more at fault.
#5. What are your injuries? If you totaled your car, your body likely suffered the kind of trauma that will cause soft tissue injuries. Do NOT wait to see a doctor, Natasa. Do NOT think that if you just take it easy for a couple of weeks it will go away. You MUST see a doctor NOW, even if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket.
#5A. In addition to seeing the doctor to help you heal, the other reason is that if you live in one of the more progressive states, you can also add a personal injury claim to your lawsuit. In fact, if you were injured and if you did see a doctor, the value of your bodily injury claim could easily be more than the one-half of the payout you will get for your car.
OK, Natasa, that is about it for now. If you want to, this might be a good time to leave some feedback for me on this site. I would appreciate that.
And until I hear back from you with answers to my questions,
Dr. Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi dr. S,
thank you for getting back to me and sorry for interrupting your holiday.
To answer your questions:
1. Had there been no traffic light I would have had right of way.
3. His is USA AAA mine is Geico
4. The accident happened in Queens, NY (where I live) and he lives in Farmingville, NY
5. I have no injuries. The airbags deployed and I was a bit sore the next day but nothing requiring to see a doctor.
His insurance wrote off his car as totalled because it was an older model with a lot of mileage. And I have 2 estimates for my car: one saying it's totalled (the repair cost would be $12550, which is more than a new Honda Civic and hence the car is written off a a total loss) and the other one (because I did not want to get rid of my car) at $4921.79, which would also be the estimate I would file with the small claims court.
Hope I gave you clear enough answers and again thank you for helping me with this matter.
Many thanks for the well wishes and for your info Natasa. And I do hope you were able to follow my advice and go for the right of way argument since that is my best advice for a winning argument. Your plan on the amount in the small claims court is fine, but no reason why you cannot submit both estimates, even though the first one might exceed the jurisdiction threshold of small claims. You are simply presenting it for additional evidence, but you are asking only for the $4,921.79--just as you state.
I came back to your claim now in half-hopes to find out how you did in court with your plan. If you feel like sharing with me how it turned out for you, that would be great. Or, you are welcome to write to me if you have any other questions. It is best to write to me at my private email at our insurance claims help website www.SettlementCentral.Com auto accident help online. Go to the upper right and hit the “contact us”. In your email text, state that “at allexperts.com, Dr. Settlement authorized me to write directly to him.” And our staff will forward me your email right away, even if I am on vacation or away at a seminar. I will have told our staff about you just in case you do need to write to me. OK?
Anyway, I was just curious how well you did using my right of way argument--and using your good idea of the lower estimate.
Online insurance claim expert, Dr. Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)