Minor Collision - Small Claims Court

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  #1  
Old 05-29-14, 07:29 AM
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Minor Collision - Small Claims Court

Seems like I'm getting screwed left and right lately. I was involved in a very minor accident in a parking lot last Friday and it was 100% the other party's fault. She even admitted to it on-site and I have a text message of her admitting fault. To my surprise, her insurance company denied my claim 100%! Apparently it doesn't matter if she admitted fault or not, it's up to the insurance company to make the determination. My insurance company plans on going to arbitration to recoup the potential payout, but the stickler is that I have a $1,000 deductible, and in order for them to go to arbitration, they had to have made some sort of payout, even if it's $1. A new front bumper painted will likely be around $700 to $800, so I'm basically screwed. My options are to pay for the repairs out of pocket (not going to happen), leave it as-is (good possibility), or take the other party to small claims court, which I have no problem doing. I'm curious if taking this person to small claims is more trouble than it's worth. For instance, I would lose a day of work. Would I be able to recoup lost pay from missing work?
 
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Old 05-29-14, 07:34 AM
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Let me guess...no police report? No citations to anyone?
 
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Old 05-29-14, 07:36 AM
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What reason did her ins company give for denying the claim?

Vic, I'm not sure the police issue tickets on private property - not around here anyway.
 
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Old 05-29-14, 08:35 AM
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They could in VA...and they can here. I even checked withe the local PD when the question came up.

IIRC, they told me that public access facilities like parking lots aren't the same as private like driveways.

Now, I think the discussion was about things like expired plates or handicapped parking, but I remember specifically they said they can enforce all motor vehicle laws in public (corporate or business owned for example) except speeding. Even then they can cite someone for reckless driving if they are doing 50 in a parking lot. Or failure to yield if they hit someone backing out of their parking spot.
 
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Old 05-29-14, 08:45 AM
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Often the police will do a report that collects the basic information at the scene, with statements from both sides.

As for the insurance company denying the claim, they should have given a reason as mark suggested which you may be able to appeal to the state insurance regulator. Just saying "no" will often eliminate most claims so that is often a first answer. What information did the insurance company have in hand to make their decision, your information or hers?

Small claims court? If all else fails and there isn't some loop hole, then absolutely. Call it practice.

Bud
 
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Old 05-29-14, 09:14 AM
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I remember specifically they said they can enforce all motor vehicle laws in public
Maybe around here they are either understaffed or too lazy to bother with parking lot incidents. I've heard them say locally that if there were no injuries, it wasn't a priority call, might take an hour before they get there and police weren't needed for it anyway.
 
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Old 05-29-14, 09:28 AM
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Around here you may not get a report from the police without claiming an injury at the time.
 
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Old 05-30-14, 07:12 AM
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What reason did her ins company give for denying the claim?
I don't recall if they gave an actual reason. They just said they are 100% denying my claim. Maybe I'll be getting a letter with an explanation. It wouldn't surprise me if "no" is a common first answer from insurance companies. Think of how much money they can save by denying claims where no police report was made. I had to explain the accident about five different times to the lady on the phone, so I think maybe they misinterpreted what happened. And I'm sure the lady that hit me tried to downplay her contribution out of embarrassment because it was such a harebrained move.

It's my understanding that unless there were injuries or fatalities, the police don't come to the scene and it's up to the individuals to handle the situation. Too many calls and wasted time spent responding to fender benders.

Here's a sketch of what happened. My vehicle is the on the right that just pulled out of the space and started to inch forward. The dashed lines show her trajectory and my intended trajectory and the points of impact. Clearly and without a doubt her fault.

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Last edited by mossman; 05-30-14 at 09:00 AM.
  #9  
Old 05-30-14, 09:03 AM
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I just got off the phone with State Farm and they are still denying my claim, although they admitted their customer is more negligent. Apparently there is a law in Virginia that states if a party is even remotely negligent, they are just as liable for the accident. That means she could be 99% responsible and me 1% (because I didn't slam on my brakes sooner???) and I would be just as liable, which is what they are claiming. Total BS!

Small claims court? If all else fails and there isn't some loop hole, then absolutely. Call it practice.
This apparent law may be the loop-hole that screws me. Probably isn't worth my time or effort to pursue this. Guess I better get used to the new scratches on my truck, because I'm not paying $1,000 out of pocket to get it fixed.
 
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Old 05-30-14, 09:05 AM
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Might be time to talk to an attorney.
 
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Old 05-30-14, 09:20 AM
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Not sure that will help or be worth the trouble. The state of Virginia follows the contributory negligence law, which says the following:

"The doctrine of contributory negligence essentially bars an accident victim from recovering any compensation if the defendant can prove that the plaintiff acted negligently and contributed to the accident in any way. The contributory negligence doctrine leads to harsh results because it denies compensation to accident victims even if their degree of fault is slight. As a result, only a few states still follow this regime."
 
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Old 05-30-14, 09:47 AM
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VA laws are embarrassingly outdated. I got screwed out of an aunt's inheritance because of a law written over a hundred years ago when women had essentially no property rights. That judgement was just as absurd as finding you at fault for not anticipating her reckless move.
 
  #13  
Old 07-20-14, 02:35 PM
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You would not sue the other party's insurance company. You can sue the other party directly. When you do the latter, the insurance company's duty is to defend its party and to pay any judgment if the other party loses.

Most of the time you will not recover the day's lost wages for being in court, but nothing keeps you from asking.

Are you sure you can't recover anything if you are partly at fault? Maybe you can recover a portion of your claim, typically proportionate to how much each party was at fault.
 
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