Fender Bender/Fault Question

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by OlieRow, May 22, 2010.

  1. OlieRow

    OlieRow Well-Known Member

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    I've never posted anything like this here but FSU seems to be a huge wealth of information and experience, I might as well take advantage of that!

    Thursday, I was coming home from school and ended up in a very minor accident. I was waiting at a stoplight where there is a left turn lane and a lane to go straight/right and it's the same on the other side. I was going straight, the woman in the other car was coming from the other side and was turning left. I'm not really sure what happened as it all was so fast, but my light went from green arrow for the L turn lane to green and I went and I didn't even see her until she was right in front of me. I don't know what her light was doing, but I'm guessing it was the same sequence as mine. After we pulled into a parking lot/asked if each other was ok/assessed the damage/started exchanging info, she said "I was in the middle when the light changed, I had to go." So it sounds like she lost her green arrow but went through and then I hit her. A cop pulled up (neither of us called) and he took written statements and gave us a small report that only had contact info and basics of where the accident occurred. He didn't issue any tickets or say who was at fault.

    Everyone was okay, no airbags went off. The damage was very minimal - the corner my front passenger bumper has a small crack and some damage to the paint plus the blinker light cover is broken. The other car is basically the same except on the rear passenger bumper. Seriously, 6 inches and we would've been clear.

    Today, I got a phone call from my insurance company because she's filed a claim and they needed a recorded statement from me. After asking me tons of questions and after she stopped recording, she asked if I knew there wasn't collision coverage on my car. :eek: I talked with my parents (I'm still on their policy) and that was news to them.

    So who is at fault here? I feel like she would've lost her right of way when her arrow disappeared but I don't know how it works. What happens next? I've given my statement to Allstate, they were going to call her for hers after mine. I filed my claim with her company and am waiting for a call back. After the insurance companies get their information, what happens?
     
  2. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    Ollie --

    I don't know what will happen. However, I'd caution you to not assume that there isn't much damage to your car (or her car) -- we were T-boned by a driver running a red light -- and the plastic panels on the door pretty much snapped back into place after the accident, though one piece of plastic did come off. But when the shop removed the plastic door panels, there was nearly $6,000 damage to the car including frame damage. I hope yours really is minor, but don't go just on looks -- get it checked out.

    I'm glad everyone involved is physically okay.
     
  3. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

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    My take on this.

    - This maybe a case of “contributory negligence”.

    - Your car had the right of way, the other car ended up in the middle of an intersection AFTER she had no right of way, but this does not necessarily means that 100% fault will be assigned to her, and 0% fault assigned to you.

    - The damage to the vehicles, which you described, indicates that both of your vehicles were traveling at a relatively low speed, which means she was not speeding.

    - Because your car and her car were traveling at a low speed, there is an assumption that you, although had the right of way, should have been able to stop, if you would have used maximum degree of percussion and looked to the left (and to all the corners of the intersection). Or not enter the intersection at all, if you saw there is a car turning (even if she was breaking the rules).

    - In other words, nothing indicates that she just dashed ahead of you so fast that you had no time to react in a precautionary manner.

    - The assumption is, that even if you have a right of way, in this instance green light at an intersection, you do not enter the intersection until you see that it is safe i.e. there are no other vehicles, pedestrians, objects, etc. The same reasons as why you can’t hit a jay-walker even if you have a green light.

    - While it sounds unfair, and you had the right of way, and she ended up on the intersection not having the right of way (after her light has changed), there is a presumption that if you have looked to your left, you would have seen her already turning. Even if she had no right to be at the spot where she ended up, it is also your obligation to be vigilant enough and to apply maximum effort to prevent an accident even if the other drive is “in the wrong”.

    - If it is decided that you could have prevented this accident by few basic precautions, it is possible that certain percentage of “fault” maybe attributed to you.

    - So, when giving your testimonies DO NOT SAY what you just said:

    “I'm not really sure what happened as it all was so fast, but my light went from green arrow for the L turn lane to green and I went and I didn't even see her until she was right in front of me”.

    Because this means you where not paying attention to the road conditions around you. That’s contributory negligence right there.

    Say you looked around and judging by the actions of the other “car in question” nothing indicated that the driver was intending to left. That although the other car was not exactly speeding, it did appear in front of you rather abruptly.

    You need to behave as if you behaved reasonably, and looked to all sides to make sure it is safe to enter the intersection, only for some reason did not get an impression that the other car was planning to turn.
     
  4. brina

    brina Well-Known Member

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    It sounds from the situation that you had right of way, which in my state means that she is entirely at fault, even if you were fully aware of her being in your way. She was in the middle of the intersection when her turn was over. Her insurance should be covering the damage to your car.
     
  5. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

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    Maybe that's the case in your state.

    But I am quite sure the "other driver" can make a case as following:

    - I've started turning left on a green arrow, while I was turning the arrow remained green.

    - I have no indicators showing me when the green light in the oposite direction is activated, and when "my green arrow" stops.

    - I've entered into left turn legitematly, on Green Arrow. The other driver, even if she now had a green light, should have seen me, and let me finish my turn.

    The only solution for OliRow to add advantage to her/his case, is to say: I'VE LOOKED but it did not look like the other car was turning or planning to turn, i had a green light so I proceeded to drive forward.
     
  6. brina

    brina Well-Known Member

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    Yes that would be a sound argument from the other driver. But also, in my state, if someone in front of you stops so suddenly that you bump into them, then it is also your fault and your insurance covers the damage. I suppose the argument is that you should be driving far enough behind them to be able to stop. The rules may not seem to be fully considerate of all possible scenarios, but whatever they are, insurance tends to be very clear-cut (at least in the US, and assuming OlieRow is American) and OlieRow needs to make sure to read up on the rules so the other driver can't skew the facts in her favor.
     
  7. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    I don't know who is legally at fault, but was she stuck in the intersection because she made the turn when there wasn't room for her on the road that she was turning into?
     
  8. KCC

    KCC Active Member

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    Were there no "yellow arrows" for the left turns? At any rate, this is a warning to be alert. The drivers out & about today all seemed to be in a big hurry. Lots of young kids, too.
     
  9. Flatfoote

    Flatfoote Active Member

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    Her statement of "I was in the middle when the light changed, so I had to go" leads me to believe she did what folks here do all the time. Even though there is no clear opening to make the turn, they pull all the way into the middle of the intersection (still facing straight on), then run it as soon as they see the light actually change, taking the gamble that the cars coming from the other direction will stop for them.
     
  10. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    Her insurance trying to get your insurance to be primary is routine. Let your insurance agent handle it. DO NOT TALK DIRECTLY TO THE OTHER PARTY OR HER INSURANCE COMPANY. You should only speak to your agent, your insurance company and the police.

    It Massachusetts, where I live, cases like this end up as "equal fault" and each insurance pays it's own policy holder. If you don't have collision, you may be out of luck. I have a rider on my policy that waives the deductible if I'm not at fault or if there is mutual fault. You might ask your parents to talk to the agent to see if something similar is available where you live. It's not that costly and has saved me twice.
     
  11. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    QFT. You should never be discussing the accident with the other party involved, most definitely not the subject of who may or may not be at fault. And I would have left the cars exactly where they ended up, at least until I got a chance to snap some pictures (I have a camera phone). Like barbk said, you have no idea how much damage was done to your car internally, and it is best to leave that to the experts at the body shop to discern, because you CANNOT tell just by looking.

    Also, why don't you have collision coverage on your car? I have both collision and comprehensive on mine, and have on both of the cars I've owned.
     
  12. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know who had the right of way, but I have been the victim of someone filing a claim first, even though I didn't have anything to do with the accident. I stopped to assist, the person who created the accident claimed that my car caused her to swerve to miss me. And clearly she was wrong in several things - it was raining, we were in the middle of the city/interstate and she had on her cruise control in the middle of rush hour traffic, an orange barrel had flown into the driving lanes from the road construction, and if I recall she was applying make-up. the police officers took the reports and I didn't hear anything until the sheriff showed up at my door with a supena (sp) with an order to show up in court.

    My insurance agent asked me a couple of questions such as had I taken any antihistimes (apparently because it would make me sleepy), did I take any BP medications, etc. The agent settled out of court (without telling me until I showed up for court).

    Anyway, I would say it depends upon what your insurance company wants to do based upon their risk. Did you report it as soon as possible, or was the insurance company only notified because she filed a claim? Insurance companies prefer to be called by you - that way they have your statement first.
     
  13. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    A friend of mine was in a situation kind of like yours. She t-boned a car running a red light. Even though she had a green light, she was given a ticket for "entering an unclear intersection."

    I think insurance determined responsibility something like 30% hers, 70% the other guy.
     
  14. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

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    I recall from my driving safety refresher training that you are not supposed to enter the intersection if you can't clear it. So, if there was no room for her to turn, technically she shouldn't have turned into the intersection.
     
  15. OlieRow

    OlieRow Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the comments. Whatever happens, it's definitely a lesson learned.

    I didn't discuss anything with her other than to make sure she was okay and then exchange information. My parents still have me on their insurance while I'm still a student so they take care of all the details. When I told them the woman mentioned there being no collision coverage, they were shocked. My dad's going to have to look into his records because it should be covered, they've always had it on all of their cars.


    After hearing from my company, they asked if I was planning on filing a claim with her company and suggested that I call them right then. I did that but the agents who would take the actual statement were busy. Should I not give them a statement/answer their questions??


    Your experience sounds horrible, it's hard to believe there are people like that out there in the world.

    I actually didn't report it right away which was probably a mistake. The cop said it looked so minor that we could always get estimates and go about it without the insurance companies to prevent our premiums from rising so I was going to get an estimate over the weekend and call Monday morning.
     
  16. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    A lot of people don't get collision, just liability. And I'm not sure why they other insurance company would care whether OlieRow had collision or not, since that's not really their concern.

    Really? Because when I took driver's ed (which was a long, long time ago, I must admit), we were told that we own one third of the intersection when turning left and should pull out that far while waiting to turn.

    Have you talked to the cop who took the report since the accident? I was involved in a similar situation and the cop did determine fault, but didn't say so or ticket anyone at the time because the damage was so minimal. It was in the report, however.

    ITA with others, though--talk to YOUR insurance company, but say nothing at all to hers.
     
  17. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Having been a driving instructor, this is the way I understand it and also what drivers were expected to on driving tests. This applies to where I live in Australia but I would also think a bit of common sense needs to be applied.

    The fact that she had entered the intersection when the light was green, should give her the right to be able to finish her turn, even after the light has changed to red, and particularly if she had no option to give way to traffic that was still proceeding through the intersection. Otherwise she could have caused a much more serious incident.

    I would think that OlieRow probably should have waited for the woman to complete her turn before proceeding (sorry OlieRow), regardless of the light changing green.

    Whatever the circumstances, I would suggest do a search for the road rules that apply to your part of the world to see what the legal point of view is. Check under sections for Traffic Lights and also Give Way. Because when it comes down it the law cannot be argued with.

    With driving, no matter what the legal situation is, commonsense should prevail and what you are trying to avoid is a crash with someone else. If it means letting the other person complete their turn, regardless of whether they were in the right or wrong, then that is what should happen. I would also ring the cop that was involved in this situation and maybe see if they can give you an idea of the legal ramifications.

    The other thing I would suggest after an crash is to immediately do an Incident Report for yourself, detailing the date, time, summary of events and draw a diagram of what happened. It may not be needed, but it at least puts in writing what happened and can help you get your facts straight. Then if something further comes of it, you can present your recollection of events to the insurance company.
     
  18. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    As always in the US, laws vary by state, so it kind of depends on where you live:

    In some states it is legal to enter an intersection in order to make a left turn and then wait in the intersection until there is a gap in the traffic in the opposite direction, or the traffic lights change to red and stop the traffic in the opposite direction, subject to the following two conditions:

    If there is a traffic light then it must be green (either a green circle or a green arrow). If there is a separate signal for left turns then that signal applies. You must never enter an intersection for any reason on a red light.

    The road into which you are turning must be clear. You must not enter an intersection for any reason if the traffic in the road you are entering is backed up to the intersection.

    This rule seems to vary from state to state. For example, the Oct-98 printed edition of the Illinois Driver's Manual "Rules Of The Road" says: "If you enter an intersection when the light is green, you may finish your turn even though the light turns red" (Chapter Three: Traffic Laws - Right-Of-Way).

    On the other hand the California Driver Handbook 2002 (external link verified Jul-02) says: "Do not enter an intersection, even when the light is green, unless you can get completely across before the light turns red. If you block the intersection, you can be cited." (Laws And Rules Of The Road - Traffic Control At Intersections; checked Jul-02).


    http://www.johncletheroe.org/usa_can/driving/left.htm

    In my state, drivers are expected to pull out into the intersection for left turns. In others, apparently not.

    Again, I would call the police officer who took the report and ask.
     
  19. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    I'm with AussieWilly. If she entered the intersection with a green arrow, which means she passed the limit line before the light changed, she had the right to finish her turn before traffic going straight entered the intersection. The only thing that sounds odd is that she said she was in the middle of the intersection so she had to go. Left-turn arrows are not like entering an intersection on a green light (with no arrow) and completing the turn after opposite-way traffic stops when the light turns red. Moreover, most lights don't change instantly; there is usually a slight hesitation after the arrow turns red before the light turns green for straight traffic. The lights are designed to let people who have entered the intersection at the end of the green to finish their turns. So I wonder if she may have run the red arrow. On the other hand, it sounds like OlieRow just clipped the rear bumper, so it could just be that she entered the intersection just before the arrow changed and the accident happened because OlieRow accelerated immediately when the light changed.

    I was always taught to be careful about anticipating a light change. While it is human nature to be impatient and hit the gas when the light turns green, pausing a second to ensure that you don't hit the people completing turns slowly or the ones who mistime trying to get through the yellow light.
     
  20. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    You are right. It is a matter of concentration.

    It has come back to me that I did have a student fail a driving test because they sat in the intersection instead of turning when they should have.

    And I also had an old lady who was retesting for her licence do it at an incredibly busy intersection. The light changed to red and she put the brakes on instead of completing the turn. I had to finish the manouver by driving the car from the passenger side, using my set of pedals to move the car and then steer leaning over the drivers side. Then drive into a carpark and pull over, all from the passenger seat. Needless to say she ended up failing the test. I felt really sorry for her but she had such poor concentration skills she shouldn't have been on the road.
     
  21. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    When I was a little kid riding with my parents, I always wanted my parents to go immediately when the light turned green because I was impatient.

    Now that I'm a driver in LA, I totally wait for others to start moving, in case there's a crazy driver who wants to run the light at 40+mph. :shuffle: I even consider the possible cushioning that other cars might give me if I'm in the leftmost lane and a crazy driver ran the light coming from my right. :lol:

    Going left when there's no green arrow is also dicey at times. You have to trust that the people coming at you will slow down at a yellow light so you can go instead of accelerating so they can make it. When it's really busy I just usually relegate myself to turning as the light turns red because I just don't know if the people coming at me will stop. :eek:

    I've also almost been hit on a left arrow because a driver in the other direction thought it would be a great idea to turn right into the middle lane...which is where I wanted to go. :eek: Driving in SoCal will teach you how to be a defensive driver really really fast!

    You definitely see people running left arrow lights regularly here, especially on freeway onramps. :eek:
     
  22. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    This is what I would think as well.

    In my city cars are routinely stuck in intersections waiting to turn left on orange and even red - and cars going straight often proceed through orange when they really should have stopped.

    Likewise, when there is a green turn arrow, cars often proceed after the arrow has turned to orange. OlieRow didn't indicate that the left turn arrow turned orange, but even so, drivers are expected to be aware of cars in intersections.

    Although I don't know what the particular rules in this case/place are.
     
  23. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but not if you have no place to go because traffic has filled up the street you are turning onto, as you quoted in a later post.
     
  24. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but when it said "The road into which you are turning must be clear. You must not enter an intersection for any reason if the traffic in the road you are entering is backed up to the intersection," that indicated to me that you can't pull into the intersection when turning left if the street you are turning left into is backed up, not that you can't pull forward if there is oncoming traffic.

    Maybe I'm confused about what I read, but I didn't see anything in what OlieRow said that would indicate that the street the woman was turning into was backed up. What I got was that the woman had pulled forward to turn, the light changed and she completed the turn as OlieRow pulled forward on the opposite side--something OlieRow couldn't have done if the traffic had been backed up into the intersection on the street the woman was turning into.

    So in Illinois (and in my state), the woman would have been permitted to do that; in California, she wouldn't have.
     
  25. Really

    Really No longer just a "well-known member" Yay!

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    If the woman who had pulled forward to turn indeed had the advance turn arrow, there should have been no need for her to hesitate in the turn. It wasn't like she had to wait for oncoming traffic. I also don't understand why OlieRow would have accelerated from the right hand lane if someone was already making a turn. There's just something about the whole scenario that doesn't make sense to me.
     
  26. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    Good point - I immediately translated the story into my own typical driving scenario, which is waiting for oncoming traffic to clear.
     
  27. Norlite

    Norlite Well-Known Member

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    Sounds to me like she entered the intersection on a yellow advance turn light, not a green. People do it here all the time, trying to get through before red and the oncoming traffic gets the green. She got stuck when the light turned from yellow to red before she turned and OlieRow began through the intersection, (whether jumping the green or not, i've seen that happen too, but no judgement on that. I wasn't there)

    IMO, she should have been noticed and oncoming should have let her through. Legally though, haven't a clue.
     
  28. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

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    Oh, yeah, sorry! I digressed, and just was commenting on a general rule, not the specific situation of the original poster. Sorry!
     
  29. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    I think that's probably what happened, too, but I believe that here, doing so would put her at fault. Before the light turns yellow, you are safe to pull out, but once it turns yellow, you aren't and are supposed to stop and yield.

    Again, that's just what I was taught, and I found a discussion of that very situation on a lawyer's page for my particular state, but that's this state.

    Most confusing, the US. It's no surprise tourists are always creating problems :p.

    No problem, but I think we are still talking about two different traffic scenarios there :).