Can a driver change his story about who's responsible for the crash?

by A
(Loomis, CA, USA)

My husband, Bob, drove into a small neighborhood in the country, in Loomis, California on 6/11/2014. He went to observe a piece of property that he was going to make a bid on re: weed abatement.

Since the road ahead showed two roads coming together into the one he was on, he chose to drive his Dodge 2500 Ram Pick-up into the driveway of a home behind a locked gate to turn around. This action was deemed safer than going to the end of the road and be faced with two oncoming roads.

He crept slowly, backing out of the driveway, about 2-4 mph, looking in all directions for any oncoming traffic. The next thing he knew is that a 1991 Jeep Wrangler with Crash Bar hit him on the Right Rear Bumper & Side Panel.

Approximate Damage to Bob's Pick-up is $4,000-$5,000, whereas the damage to the Jeep Wrangler was only about $200 - Crash Bar Only. There were no skid marks. The accident occurred in mid-afternoon on a sunny day. The driver of the Jeep Wrangler apologized and said that he did not see Bob because there was a tree blocking his vision. (Actually the Tree, with branches which came out over the road, blocked both drivers' vision.)

Zach, the driver of the Jeep Wrangler, immediately took photos of the scene, Bob's Truck, and his vehicle; and forwarded such to his and Bob's Insurance Co. Bob's Insurance Co., upon reviewing this data, claimed that Bob was at fault and that he would be responsible for the $1,000 deductible.

The Insurance Co. would not support their client, Bob, and did not send a Claims Adjuster out to our home to assess the damage in person or the accident scene. However, Bob finally got his way and an Adjuster came out and agreed with Bob that to do the amount of damage done to Bob's truck Zach had to have been driving over 25 mph, and more likely around 40mph.

But he refused to put such in writing along with his notes, citing that he was not allowed to do so. This Claims Adjuster, Ian, also visited the accident scene and made copious notes.

Zach is 19 years of age and had a young girlfriend with him as a passenger at the time of the accident, which could have been a distraction. Bob was alone and had no distraction. Zach changed his story about being responsible, probably because of pressure from his parents who own the Jeep Wrangler.

The Auto Body Shop where Bob took his pickup for repairs found a lot more damage that the Claims Adjuster missed. Since the Jeep Wrangler only incurred $200 worth of damage vs. Bob's $4,000-$5,000 damage, is it not logical that Zach was traveling at a much higher speed than Bob and was at fault?

Can the amount of damage done to Bob's Pick-up substantiate the MPH the offending vehicle had to be traveling to incur so much damage?

We need to fight this injustice and the 2 points that would go on Bob's Driving Record. Can you please say who most likely was at fault in the circumstances described above? What can we do? Much appreciated.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can a driver change his story about who's responsible for the crash?":


Unfortunately, without being able to visit the crash site, it is very difficult to assess liability. Bob is in a precarious position. He knows there is an injustice being done upon him, in that his insurance company has decided not to support him. Without the support of his insurance company, Bob doesn't really have much of an option.

Bob can ignore his insurance company's decision, and go ahead and file a private lawsuit against Zach. To do so will be a challenge. In court, Zach, or his attorney will be able to call as his own witness Bob's insurance company's claims adjuster.

The claims adjuster will likely testify, after an examination of the events surrounding the collision, that he or she decided Bob was at fault. Such testimony could be devastating and could likely be enough for Bob to lose the case.

Realistically, there doesn't seem to be much hope for Bob in challenging his insurance company, or filing a lawsuit against Zach. We wish we could give you better news, but we have to call them like we see them.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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