Is the moving vehicle always at fault in an accident with a stationary vehicle?

by Laura
(Michigan)

My son was pulling into the high school parking lot this morning and while passing a parked car that person opened their door and hit my son's vehicle. They admitted fault and said they were in a hurry and didn't look before they opened the door. My insurance tells me that the moving vehicle is always at fault.

Is this true? How can this be? The other party even admitted fault when they called the insurance company. Is this just another example of why no-fault insurance costs a fortune and is the absolute worst ever?!? Any perspective you can give on the liability issue here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is the moving vehicle always at fault in an accident with a stationary vehicle?":

Laura (Michigan):

We don't know where your insurance company came up with "the moving vehicle is always at fault" assertion. That may be their take on liability, or their policy, but it's not true. Fault is determined on a claim-by-claim basis.

As you probably already know, no fault insurance does not cover property damage. As a result, drivers whose cars are damaged as a result of another driver's negligence have the legal right to seek compensation from the person who was negligent.

However, as we said above, often fault is not easily determined. In many cases both parties may have contributed to the accident. This is referred to as each party's Comparative Fault. Learn more about 51% modified comparative fault here.

As long as the victim of the accident's comparative negligence doesn't exceed 50%, the victim can still recover compensation for the damage to his car. The amount of recovery will be proportionate to the victim's comparative fault. If the victim's comparative fault exceeds 50%, the victim is barred by state law from recovering compensation.

In your son's case, it appears he and the other person may have shared some fault. Instead of seeking compensation from your own insurance company, you have a right to seek compensation for property damage from the other person's insurance company.

Hopefully your son was able to get the other person's insurance information. If not, and you or your son know how to contact the person, do so and ask for the insurance information.

With that in hand, contact the insurance company and tell them you want to file a property damage claim. The insurance company will open a file, assign a claim number , and investigate the claim.

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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