Why was accident my fault when other driver was not using a lane?

by Talal
(Hope, RI)

I was stopped at a red light behind a minivan. Once the light turned green the minivan rolled forward then turned on his turn signal. I proceeded to go around the minivan at which point another driver came speeding down on a lane that does not exist in an attempt to pass.

I supposedly hit this driver because the point of impact suggests that I had time to see him. My insurance company is giving me 90 percent fault and him 10 percent, essentially rewarding him for speeding and passing people unlawfully.

If they do not adjust the penalty I will be taking this to court. The driver that hit me was not using the lane properly. Is there any information you can provide to assist me with this? Why would my insurance company say I'm 90 percent at-fault when the other driver was not obeying traffic law? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Why was accident my fault when other driver was not using a lane?":

Talal (Hope, RI):

The answer to your questions depends on the manner in which you passed the minivan. While you say you passed the minivan, you failed to state whether the minivan was turning left or right, and which side of the van you passed.

You also neglected to state which "lane" the other driver was in, and which way the driver was heading.

If the minivan was turning right and you passed to the left, then you would be subject to Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Statute 31-15-4.

If the minivan was turning left and you passed to the right, then you would be subject to Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Statute 31-15-5.

If the police were dispatched to the scene, they will have created and filed a Crash Report. If so, in the Crash Report will be notations of any traffic citations you or the other driver may have been issued, a diagram of the accident scene, the way the cars were traveling at the time of the collision, drivers and witness names and addresses, and more.

You allude to "...taking this to court." If that is your intention you would have to sue the other driver based in his or her negligence.

While you certainly have a right to sue your insurance company, the only grounds you might have are "bad faith." This will require an attorney with expertise in suing insurance companies over bad faith issues.

You will very likely not find an attorney to accept the case on a contingency fee basis. Instead, you will probably have to pay an hourly fee. Unfortunately, the attorney's fees will be substantially more than the amount of money in contention.

Finally, to sue the other driver you can consider filing in one of Rhode Island's Small Claim Courts. These courts have jurisdiction to hear cases up to $2,500. If the amount in controversy is within that range, you can proceed in small claims court without an attorney.

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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