As I was driving through an intersection on a green light; the car in the opposite side made a left hand turn hitting me on the driver/front side of my car. Both drivers have insurance through the same company. Examiner advised that the police report favored us but we would still hold 10% liability for this loss. All agents, my Examiner and the other party's Examiner quoted the same lines throughout the process, before and after any evidence reviewed, the same lines were repeated like a script. Other driver was from out of state and the car was registered to another NY resident. Insurance co's is unorganized, they even went to my garage looking for the other party's car. I have been with the insurance co. for years with a clean driving record. No witnesses & one driver in each car.
My car was towed and has remained in the garage since. It requires extensive repairs and cannot be driven at this time. I had put in new parts for this car just prior to the accident. The adjuster will be reviewing the car next week at the garage. Both parties being from the same company; I felt as though each agent was going through a planned script, whether they were my or other party's Examiner. I was told that a statement could be made to either one of them, it would be recorded and shared with the other Examiner. The other party did not submit a police report; other Examiner had no report until mine was submitted. I am not even sure if the company spoke to the driver or just the registered owner who was not even in the car at the time. I was told that the loss would be determined after the Adjuster reviewed my car, but I already received the letter indicating my responsibility for the 10% loss. What are my rights? How does this affect my future premiums with this company or new company?
Hire a lawyer to help fight the liability split.
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
Hire a lawyer to review the police report and other facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and deal with the insurance company. You might want an independent estimate of the value of your vehicle's damage, especially if you end up having to bring a property damage action in court.
This post is for informational purposes only. The above information is not to be construed as legal advice.
I am not licensed in NY and it sounds like a NY lawyer has given you specific advice. In this situation it sounds like you would best be served by hiring a lawyer.
Best bet is to contact the lawyer in your state who answered above to help resolve the split.
Personal Injury Lawyer
A lot depends on what path you are taking to achieve a particular result. If your concern is about getting the damage to your car repaired, choice one is to get it repaired and paid for under the "collision coverage" portion of your policy. In that instance, your carrier should pay for the necessary repairs but any supposed 10% liability assessment will not apply - the only thing to be subtracted will be your "deductible" (if you have one). If you are looking for payment under the other vehicle's policy, you don't have to accept the 10%, and can go to court -but is it worth the time and expense to do so (ie - you have $5000 of damages, and 10% would amount to $500 - so all you would get , if they turn out to be right, is $4500.00. Also, there is also the possibilty that if litigated, a judge can find you 0% at fault OR more than 10% at fault. You decide if the risk is worth it. As regards your premium, the fact that they are of the opinion that you are 10% at fault (in NY even if you have the right of way, you are still obligated to "see what there was to be seen" and to avoid the accident if you are the one who had the "last clear chance to do so" - and that is regardless of the negligence of the other party) is a recognition that you bear little responsiiblity for the accident. Although not a written law, most insurance companies will not raise you premiums where you are less than 50% at fault - and more likely not when you are only 10% at fault.
There are two viewpoints you can take on this set of circumstances.
First, from a legal perspective: New York is a comparative fault state. This means that any time an accident occurs we look at the relative fault of all parties involved. As you already know, the person going straight has the right of way while the person making a left turn must generally yield to all oncoming traffic which would present an immediate hazard. It sounds as this this other driver simply failed to yield the right of way and turned directly into the path of your car.
BUT it does not end there. As I mentioned we are a comparative fault state, so while it is clear that the other driver was negligent we still must answer the question of whether you were also somehow negligent, even if only a small amount. As with everything else there are two sides to this story. Yours and the other drivers. In your eyes, there is no way that you could be held at fault for the accident - but to the other driver, maybe you were speeding,; maybe you failed to yield after he commenced his turn; maybe you did not make your best efforts to avoid this accident. There are many possibilities, all of which may confer some fault on you.
It is very difficult to look at this objectively when you are the person involved but the best way to think of this is to take a step back. If you are presented this set of facts as a juror, you would have to decide the fault of each party, as I described. If the other driver told a compelling story - whatever his excuse may be - wouldn't it be simple to say "OK well its obvious that this guy who turned left is at fault but the other person also shares a little blame. Let's split it up 80/20." This is often what happens in reality, even in some situation which seem clear cut. It is for this reason that the company thinks that this is a good compromise.
Second, the cynical perspective. Your insurance company - who you pay to insure you and fight for your best interests when something like this happens - has decided to take the easy way out. Rather than fight for you over the last 10%, they have decided to let you eat the difference. Not only that, you now have what some would consider a partial fault accident and they can potentially raise rates for that mark on your record. Nobody can tell you whether this will cause your rates to go up except the underwriting department of your insurance company. You should ask them. If you do not feel comfortable with the way they represented you during this loss, then switch companies. Some are better than others don't fall into the trap that all companies are alike.
Also - you have the right to sue over the remaining 10%. But you must ask yourself if it is worth it. I will tell you that if you feel as though you were injured at all from this accident, then it would certainly be worth it to consult a local personal injury lawyer. The lawyer can explain your rights as to medical bills, etc., fight for the remaining 10% and potentially recover money if your injuries are serious.
The aforementioned opinion does not constitute legal advice and is for general educational purposes only. See an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for competent legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed through the within legal question and answer session.