Visitor Question

Insurance says I’m at fault, despite other driver violating traffic law?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Texas)

A sideswipe occurred when I was merging right onto a new lane with my blinker on. A pickup truck came in between the curb and I, attempting to pass on the right before the new lane was marked, so we were still technically in the same lane. He was going about 20 mph (30fps) faster than me, and ended up hitting me.

I was held responsible because the collision was towards the rear of his truck. The insurance company says I was merging, and I should have seen him and reacted. This is despite the fact that I would of had less than one second to react due to his speed and combined lengths of our vehicles.

He shouldn’t have been there in the first place, since we were still technically in a single lane and he should have been following me. Is there any chance of me using this violation to win? How can they say I’m at fault for the accident if the other driver was the one breaking traffic law? Is there anything I can do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

While you believe your opinion of liability is correct, that opinion may not be enough to convince your insurance company you were not culpable (liable). Unfortunately, once you turn the matter over to your insurance company, it’s up to them to decide whether they will pay the claim or not.

All you can do is provide them with all the evidence you have, including photographs, witness statements, police reports, and any other pertinent information. You can certainly attempt to convince your insurance company you were not liable, but you have no legal right to compel them to pay the claim or not, regardless of your opinion.

If you did not turn the matter over to your insurance company, or have no insurance, you can always defend yourself. In that case, the other driver’s insurance company will likely send you a demand letter to pay for the damage to their insured’s vehicle. At that point you can attempt to convince them their insured was at fault.

Once again, it will be up to the driver’s insurance company to make that decision. If you do handle the matter yourself and refuse to pay the damages, it is likely the driver’s insurance company will sue you.

Texas follows the 51% Comparative Fault statute. Read about 51% modified comparative fault here.

In your case, this means if both you and the other driver shared some amount of negligence for the collision, you may not be responsible to pay the driver’s entire property damage. Instead, the driver’s contribution to the collision will reduce the amount of compensation for the damage to his vehicle by that specific percentage.

This is true unless the driver’s negligence accounted for 51% or more. See Texas Revised Statute, Chapter 33.

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

Best of luck,

Published: June 12, 2017

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