Semi truck hit my car and I'm liable?
I live in Massachusetts. I was in a 2 lane road of stopped traffic (2 lanes in each direction) in Boston. I was in the right lane and a semi truck was in the lane next to me (going in the same direction). Traffic began to slowly move in front of me and in front of the semi.
The semi remained at a standstill, and as I passed by it I decided to change lanes, and pull in front of the semi. Since the semi was not moving, and the cars ahead of it were, a long space was opening up as I slowly moved up alongside and then past the semi.
I had my turn signal on, was twisted around looking out my open window at the semi, and also had my arm extended out the open window as well, indicating my intention to change lanes. I continued progressing into the lane of the semi as I watched it, the truck still remaining at a standstill.
As I entered the lane, I turned to face forward to complete the lane change, and it was at that time that the semi must have begun to move from its previously stopped position (I did not see him start to move forward since I had turned to look forward to complete the lane change). I felt a crunch and my car began to be shoved up the road for about 10 feet.
I began honking my horn and yelling and he finally stopped. He tried to back up but first lurched forward again, doing more damage to my car, and then got into reverse and backed up about 5 feet. He got out and approached my car and said, "I couldn't see you over my hood."
I called 911 and there were no citations made, but I did have to insist the police take a report. I am now told by my insurance company that I am liable for my (probably more than $10K!) damages because I had not completed the lane change when this truck hit me.
I can't believe it. I am still shaken and in shock. I have not recovered from this accident in terms of the trauma and shock, as well as from the shocking response of my insurance company. I today contacted an auto accident/personal injury lawyer to see if they can help me, but have not yet retained counsel.
Is my liability really possible? I can hardly believe it since the driver hit me, was not moving at all when I initiated the lane change, as well as the fact that the truck driver acknowledged that he could not see me over his own hood as he began to move forward from a standstill. What can I do? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Semi truck hit my car and I'm liable?":
Semi-Shocked (Boston, MA):
Let's take a look at the salient Massachusetts laws governing how drivers may overtake other vehicles, and the duty of the overtaken vehicle.
Massachusetts General laws Section 2 reads as follows:
"The driver of a vehicle passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction shall drive a safe distance to the left of such other vehicle and shall not return to the right until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle...
...the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on visible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle."
From a reading of Massachusetts law, it appears your insurance company decided you may not have allowed sufficient time and space before returning to the lane in from of the truck driver.
Inasmuch as your insurance company has apparently decided to pay the claim, there isn't much you can do. It's not clear from your question if your insurance company already tendered policy limits to the other driver and that you owe $10,000 above policy limits.
In any event, it would be a good idea to review the Crash Report filed by the investigating officer. To obtain a copy of the Crash Report, complete this form:
Massachusetts Department of Transportation - Request Copy of Crash Report
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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