Driver who lost control of her vehicle in icy conditions is blaming us?
(Salt Lake City, Utah)
My wife and I were traveling southbound in heavy traffic on I-15 during icy conditions. We were traveling in the far right lane getting ready to take the upcoming exit. A young girl approximately 50 yards ahead and three lanes to our left lost control of her vehicle.
Not knowing where she would end up, I slowed my vehicle down, but her car eventually slid backwards into our lane and we hit her broadside.
I could not steer around her on our left because of a vehicle in that lane (who barely avoided hitting the girl) and because there was a concrete barrier to our right. A vehicle behind us swerved into the right shoulder between us and the concrete barrier in order to avoid rear ending our car, but hit the girl a 2nd time.
No one was hurt because I had slowed down significantly by the time she slid backwards into our lane, with the impact being perhaps 15 mph. The report from the highway patrol won't be out for 10 days, but the girl contacted our insurance company and claimed we are at fault because we hit her and caused the vehicle to our right to hit her.
Of course we hit her...she last control of her vehicle and slid backwards into our lane. How can this even remotely be our fault? What can we do about this? Thanks for any perspective you can give.
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ANSWER for "Driver who lost control of her vehicle in icy conditions is blaming us?":
Greg (Salt Lake City, Utah):
First and foremost, contact your insurance company. You almost certainly have a duty to do so under the terms of your insurance policy. Your insurance company will investigate the underlying facts of the accident. Be sure to secure a copy of the police accident report. In most cases, the investigating police officers will review the accident and decide who is culpable.
If the police officers believe the other driver was at fault, there is a good chance they would have issued a traffic citation to the other driver. If so, that is strong evidence in your favor.
In the event the police officers issued a citation to you for following too closely, or some other infraction, that will be used against you. If both you and the other driver were issued citations, then it will be entirely up to the insurance companies to decide how they want to proceed.
If your insurance company believes you were not a fault, they won't pay the driver’s claim. If your insurance company believes you share some liability, or are wholly liable, they will either pay the entire claim, or some part of it.
If your insurance company decides you were not at fault, and the driver decides to sue you, your insurance company will provide a defense attorney to you at no cost. Moreover, in the unlikely event the other driver’s attorneys prevails in the lawsuit, your insurance company will pay the award up to your policy limits.
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,
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