Car Crash = Insurance screwing me over
February 25, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

My beautiful car was destroyed in a crash, someone turned in front of me and it's totally their fault. But their insurance made me an offer for about half of my car's replacement value. And I'm injured too. Now they want to cut off my loaner rental car, to pressure me to settle. How can I get justice?

I am in a terrible mess. My super-deluxe luxury edition Camry XLE was damaged, I thought it was repairable, only the front quarter was damaged, even the engine was undamaged. But they say it would cost $8000 to repair and NADA retail value of the car is only $5700, so they are declaring it a total loss.
My Camry is a 1995 model, that's pretty old, but it only has 54,000 miles on it, which is a typical milage for a car only 3 years old. It was in immaculate condition. It would cost me probably $8k-12k to replace this car with something equivalent. And even then I'd probably be stuck with a very old car with high milage and fewer features.
State Farm is not playing ball with me. They recognize that this car is unique and they have no way to assess the value of a car with so few miles. They said they do not negotiate, they only collect documentation and respond to that. So they put it on me, I have to document that the car is worth more than they're offering, or else they will stick to their offer.
So I called the Toyota dealer. He checked NADA and State Farm lied, the car has an NADA value of $5745, not $5700 as SF claimed. They're already nickel-and-diming me down, I plan on confronting them and ask them if it's fair to round down to the nearest hundred. The Toyota dealer also confirmed he has never seen a car like that, and he has no way to guess what the value would be. State Farm claims they already factored in the low miles and any adjustment would be in a few hundred bucks at best, not thousands.
So I am stuck. I am about to be pressured into accepting a very substantial loss on my car. I have never been in a situation like this and I don't know what to do. But I only have until next Thursday to finalize this, or else I'll have to rent my own car to run around to dealerships and shop for a new car. And with only a week to buy a car, I am going to have a limited selection of cars. This totally sucks.
Now on top of that, I was injured in the crash. The air bag blew in my left ear and now I'm almost completely deaf in that ear. I went to the doctor and an audiologist documented the severe hearing loss. But the doctor says there's nothing he can do, and he hopes it clears up on its own in a few months. Unlikely.
Now this injury, while not lifethreatening, is heartbreaking. The sounds I hear in my left ear are so garbled, it makes it almost impossible to enjoy watching TV or listening to music. I watched a movie a couple of nights ago, it gave me a migraine. I tried playing my guitar (one of my few joys in life) and it was so painful to listen to, I had to stop. It is highly likely that this hearing impairment will be a permanent problem. I might be forced to give up playing my guitar and listening to music, and limiting my exposure even to TV or music. State Farm said they would initiate an injury claim, but it would be totally separate from their collision claim.
Further complicating this claim, I already had a slight hearing loss in that ear. I can guess they're going to claim it is impossible to tell what the accident did vs. the preexisting condition. Fortunately I had a hearing test just a couple of months ago, so I can establish a baseline. But since I only have damage in one ear, they could claim I can function normally. But if I can't listen to music because it's painful, that would be a significant loss in my life, incalculable in dollar terms. And the tinnitus and garbling in my left ear is making it extremely difficult to hear anything, even in my right ear. This isn't the sort of injury that can be remedied with a hearing aid or any other means, I will just have to live with it.
I just don't know how to proceed with this mess. My life is in a total shambles because of this wreck. I've been in and out of the doctor's office with long appointments, and more to come. I haven't even dealt with my sore back and neck, but I am loathe to start yelling whiplash at this point, for fear of being labeled a scammer. I haven't had time to get it together and State Farm is pressuring me to settle while I am still messed up from the crash. And other than the car, I am currently unemployed and receiving unemployment insurance, so I have minimal financial resources to fight this. Yeah, I could get a lawyer and then this would take forever to settle and meanwhile I would have no car.
Does anyone have suggestions on how to deal with this?
posted by charlie don't surf to Travel & Transportation (44 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Where is your insurance company in this? I thought rule #1 in car insurance was you never contact the other person's insurance, you contact yours, and they talk to the other people.
posted by brainmouse at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, sorry, forgot the specifics. State Farm offered me $5700 plus tax & title, total $6010. I couldn't find any Camry at that price in the couple of days I've looked, lowest I found was $8k.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:36 AM on February 25, 2011

Response by poster: brainmouse, that is also part of the problem I should have mentioned. I was uninsured. At least I think I am uninsured. I paid a substantial advance for my car insurance but I'm pretty sure it has lapsed. I'm not going to recover any additional money from my insurance because I don't have any. I'm just lucky I didn't get a ticket for lack of insurance, and that the other party was insured. So far State Farm hasn't raised any objections or really even noticed I was uninsured.
Yes, I should have kept up my car insurance but I really only drive about 2 times a week, and when you're unemployed, broke, and behind in the rent, some things have to go, no matter how perilous it might be.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:38 AM on February 25, 2011

You need a lawyer. If you have no insurance company on your side, then you are in no position to deal with negotiating with the other insurance company.

If state farm knows that you are not represented by any professional - they will take advantage of you.
posted by Flood at 9:43 AM on February 25, 2011 [23 favorites]

Well then, the honest answer is if you want more, you're going to have to get a lawyer. They don't have any reason to give you more right now. You want it, but that's all. They can say no, and you can't do anything about it. Even if you're 100% right (which I'm not sure you are, generally insurance payouts are for the value of the car, not its replacement value, the health issues notwithstanding), there's no way for you to get them to pay more without some sort of lawyer support behind you. You should be getting that from your insurance, but since you don't have it, your only choice is to get your own lawyer.
posted by brainmouse at 9:43 AM on February 25, 2011

At least I think I am uninsured. I paid a substantial advance for my car insurance but I'm pretty sure it has lapsed. I'm not going to recover any additional money from my insurance because I don't have any.

You don't know? Call your insurance company to get the status of your policy ASAP.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I got one for an accident and it was the best advice I ever took. I lost on the value of the car (also a unique car worth more than book value) but I got the medical care I needed and somehow that covered the car, too.

Lawyers are magic for negotiating with insurance companies (yes SF negotiates! just not with you.) They take a percentage of the settlement, but it seems to work out. Getting the medical covered is primary.

Get a lawyer!
posted by jbenben at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2011 [9 favorites]

You need to either get your insurance company working on this, or a lawyer.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:45 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

When my car mashed into a deer last summer my insurance totaled it -no ifs ands or buts. They did not require me to turn in the car, however, to get the check they were offering. My solution (since they weren't offering any alternatives) was to take the check, keep the car, & get it repaired using the check. As the pricing most insurance companies use for making repairs is standardized, you can generally get replacement parts & often labor for less than is listed on the formal estimate.

It's still a bum rap, and there are some consequences to re-insuring (to say nothing of re-selling) a car that's been 'totalled,' but it's something to consider as you're looking at your options. Not all companies let you keep the car if you take the check.
posted by Ys at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2011

N'thing a lawyer. You might not have considered this due to your brokeness, but you shouldn't have to pay anything up front for a PI case; the fee comes out of the settlement.
posted by phunniemee at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get a lawyer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Echoing the calls to get a lawyer ASAP. I really feel for you -- this sounds like a terrible situation that you've been forced into, but you'll only make things worse by rushing into a decision before you've had proper legal council. Get a lawyer. Aside from your car, you could have permanent medical injuries. Don't sign off on anything until you've consulted a really good attorney, even if it means carpooling with a co-worker or taking the bus for a weeks.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Since you've had several answers already on the lawyer question, I figured I'd tackle the implicit "can I replace my Toyota for $6000" question. I did a quick search on Craigslist, and there are two listings for Toyota Camry sedans under $6000 in the vicinity of Iowa City, a 1998 Toyota Camry for $5800 and a 1999 Toyota Camry for $4200. However, I think you'd find it easier to find a suitable replacement used car if you expand your acceptable criteria to include comparable cars from other manufacturers (i.e. Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, etc.)
posted by RichardP at 9:52 AM on February 25, 2011

The insurance company you are talking to represents the other driver. They are out to do the best they can for him and for their company and NOT for you.
posted by Postroad at 9:53 AM on February 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

If state farm knows that you are not represented by any professional - they will take advantage of you.

FWIW, I've had two claims with State Farm, never had professional representation, and found them professional, fair, and expeditious (each time I had the full check in hand in less than a week).

Still, it sounds like you have two separate complicated issues here, and it would be wise to consult a lawyer. If you're unemployed, you can still get free legal aid. I see you're located in Iowa City from your profile, here are some resources for your area.
posted by arnicae at 9:56 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Even if you have insurance, you still need a personal injury lawyer. Your own insurance company is still going to be interested in minimizing their financial hit, which will not coincide with your best interests.
posted by COD at 9:57 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a lawyer, but probably not in your jurisdiction. State Farm does have a bad track record when you are not their insured. If you are hoping to resolve this on your own, don't just get Blue Book, but get written price quotes from vehicles selling in your area that are similar in relevant respects to yours.

Most personal injury attorneys in my area work on contingency and that should minimize your costs. Most in my area, including me, will negotiate with providers and others to help offset the cost of our services and maximize your recovery. Additionally, a reputable and good attorney will have a better chance of getting a better recovery because they will (a) know how to properly determine the legal value of your property loss, (b) ensure that you don't make mistakes in treatment that would hurt your chances to recover your lost medical expenses, (c) has a reputation and/or relationship with many insurance adjusters suggesting a higher settlement value for your case, and (d) will probably know a little about the computer systems (e.g., CSC Colossus) the adjuster may base his valuation of your injury claims on--and how to tailor a demand to appeal to the factors such software considers important.

Next, the "we do not negotiate" is probably bullshit. It will cost more than the difference in your bargaining position to litigate, and they almost always hope to take advantage of the disparity in knowledge to settle with unrepresented parties. At the very least, if you don't hire an attorney, consider making a claim with your own insurance. They may be able to help you with at least the property settlement, and then you can use an attorney for the injury portion of the case. Good luck!
posted by Hylas at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I consulted a friend of mine on this one, who is an actual insurance fraud investigator. This is what she said:

"The insurance company doesn't come up with some magic number for the value of your car. They use specific books that take into account the type of car, any customization, and the mileage on the car. What they said your car is worth is what it is worth. Just because your dealer used one NADA guide doesn't mean that State Farm isn't using a different NADA guide. Or the one of the several types of Kelly books. A difference of $45 is negligible and is probably the result of using a different book than the book your dealer was using. I don't know of a single insurance company that would pay any more for a car as old as yours, regardless of the mileage.

Additionally, depending on what state you're in, there may be something called "comparative negligence", which assigns a certain amount of fault to all parties involved in an accident. Since this was an accident that involved someone turning in front of you, naturally the insurance company is going to assign some of the liability to you. You have a duty to be aware of your surroundings and to take every possible step to avoid an accident. I've never once heard of a turning accident in which one party was completely at fault and the other was completely faultless. Your liability claim is likely going to be reduced in accordance with any comparative negligence statutes in the state where the accident happened.

As for your injury claim, it is absolutely true that it will be handled separately from your collision claim. You can also expect that claim to be significantly reduced by your prior hearing loss, even if you can establish a baseline.

Let this be a lesson to you: get your own insurance and don't let it lapse. Though very little would be different in your situation, it pays to have an insurance company do the fighting for you. It saves you the aggravation of all of this."
posted by crankylex at 10:03 AM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

Laws will be dependent on what state you are in, but when I had a wreck in Arkansas that totaled my Saturn (one of the last 2 door coupes they made before going to the 3 also had a sunroof but now power locks/windows, which was a unique combination), I did lots of research on the insurance laws and called the State Insurance Commissioner a couple of times. Apparently they have a program where you can get some free legal advice a couple of times a month, so I took advantage of that.

Arkansas law stated that they had to either pay to repair my car to the original condition (before the accident) or supply me a replacement of equal build/features/value. They also tried to low ball the NADA price. There weren't any like mine sitting on car lots in the area, so I did some research and found one in California and one in Chicago for sale that would replace mine. I also went to 3 different car dealers with the sticker description of my car and asked them to price one out for me. I took all of that information and said you can either give me $XXXX or buy this car for me in California and have it shipped here (they didn't want to give me a brand new model car off the lot). In the end I got more money than what they were originally offering which paid off the loan and I wound up getting a different car. But I had to do some legwork.

I also ran out of benefits on the rental car stuff...apparently they limit the days on that so I did feel rushed to buy another car. However, Enterprise Car Rental agreed to let me keep my rental a couple of extra days at the insurance rate which was WAY cheaper (by at least half) than their published rates. I'd talk to the rental company about doing that if you are in a tough position and need to keep the car after the insurance quits paying.

I also had some minor injuries from the accident and had some doctor visits. Those bills were submitted to that insurance company and covered by them as a separate claim from the car. So just because you eventually figure out the settlement on the car, you don't have to close out the medical claim until everything is done. Medical and Vehicle are two separate lines on a car policy and they are treated differently.

Having said all of that, I would still advise anyone with limited resources to do their own legwork to find a lawyer. I'm pretty stubborn (and I was PISSED that my car was totaled) so I did the work on my own, but I also had a lot of friends with knowledge who I could call and ask for advice.

Good Luck! I know how much it sucks to be in an accident, not feel well and have to deal with all this crap. I know at one point I told the insurance company right after the accident that I wasn't in the frame of mind to deal with stuff and asked them to call me back next week after I had healed and rested a bit. I wasn't in the state of mind to be making any decisions right then.
posted by MultiFaceted at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stop talking to their insurance company, especially if you're making statements like "The doctor thinks my ear, which was already damaged before, will get better, but I don't," yelling at them for offering to pay more than the car's bluebook value, and forgetting whether or not you actually have insurance of your own.

I know it's poor form to point such things out on Metafilter, but you're coming across as unhinged and hysterical (and not without good reason -- I'd be stressed up to the gills if I was in your position). This is not a good bargaining position to be in with a gigantic insurance company staffed by highly-paid lawyers and accountants. You need your own lawyer if they're going to take you seriously, if you haven't already destroyed your bargaining position with them. Your situation is almost exactly a textbook case for why Personal Injury lawyers exist, and you need to hire a lawyer, and not say a single word to State Farm or a public forum on the internet until the lawyer tells you that it's OK to do so.

Also, I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think they're required to pay replacement costs on your vehicle, especially given that your car is virtually impossible to replace. They've already offered to pay $700 above your car's blue book value, which seems unusually generous. It sucks, but I'm pretty sure that this is the way that car insurance has always worked (and is one of the implicit risks that you carry by owning an older vehicle -- it's worth a lot to you, but not a lot on the market.) Again, this is something that a lawyer could answer.
posted by schmod at 10:11 AM on February 25, 2011 [16 favorites]

If I were you I would:

1)Find out if I actually have insurance. If so, let reps from the company handle negotiations. If not...

2)Consult with a lawyer or obtain good legal advice on how to proceed. If I couldn't afford this I would...

3)Contact an injury lawyer. Consultation is free, and they may only go after the ear damage, but they could also help out with the situation with the

4)Try to stop drowning in self-pity.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

You may be able to buy back your 'totaled' car and repair it with the settlement money, possibly for less than 8k. There are garages that do that. Just an option Ive heard of people doing, find qualified representation.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:18 AM on February 25, 2011

#4 is stated not as an accusation, but merely from the POV of someone who can get jammed up in self-pity spirals, and I really related with the tone of your post as something very similar to what I do in this state... I of course, could be totally off base, and apologize if so, but this appears to me to be a totally sucky situation, but hardly the end of the world, especially if you've only managed to put 54,000 miles on a car from 1995 that you drive 2x per week, and you've had a qualified dr. look at your ear and is taking a wait and see attitude as it may clear up shortly.... I really hope that you can get this situation resolved to at least somewhat of your satisfaction, and that the future brings better days!
posted by Debaser626 at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2011

//I've never once heard of a turning accident in which one party was completely at fault and the other was completely faultless//

My wife was turning left on a green 2 years ago and was plowed into by a minivan that ran the red. 100% of the fault was assigned to the minivan driver. According to our lawyer, the fact that she was ticketed, and fought it before being found guilty of running a red was a huge plus for us. Had she just paid the ticket without admitting guilt (which you can do in VA) her insurance company probably would have tried to stick my wife with some fault for not forseeing that somebody would run the red. But the guilty verdict from a judge shut that down.

It may or may not work the same way in your state, but you might want to keep an eye on the legal proceedings with the ticket, just in case.

And seconding what schmod said. If you are old enough to drive a car, you are old enough to man (or woman) up and deal with the circumstances in a mature manner when something goes wrong.
posted by COD at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2011

You need a lawyer. I know you think it will be faster to deal with this on your own, but here's the thing: you are stressed out and feeling extreme emotions. This is understandable because you have been through on upsetting experience and are now in the equally upsetting aftermath. However, because you are dealing with the emotional aspects of this situation, you are not your own best advocate. You will not get the best outcome for yourself. This is what lawyers are for. A lawyer advocates on your behalf, with all her legal expertise and professional experience and talent, and, crucially, without emotional involvement in your case. A lawyer is there to be your clear-headed expert while you are an emotional wreck.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:25 AM on February 25, 2011

An expectation of getting much more than what they are offering you for a 16-year-old Camry is likely an unreasonable expectation. I'm sorry.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:35 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you have to turn in the car? My husband's old BMW was declared totalled but he drove it for a couple of years afterwards. Otherwise, get a lawyer, or at least a calm organized friend to sort out if you're insured, the paperwork, etc. Is Legal Aid a possibility?
posted by Ideefixe at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2011

And seconding what schmod said. If you are old enough to drive a car, you are old enough to man (or woman) up and deal with the circumstances in a mature manner when something goes wrong.

Whoa whoa whoa. I never said that. Maturity does not enter into this picture -- I was merely suggesting that the OP is too emotionally invested (and not law-degree-holding-enough) in this matter to effectively represent him/herself to the insurance company.

In this case, the "mature" response is undoubtedly to hire a personal injury lawyer, who is an expert in these very complex matters. (Even if I was a lawyer, I'm not sure I'd be able to convincingly and effectively represent myself in a PI case, thanks to the nuances involved -- this really has nothing to do with the OP, and simply to do with the fact that it's sometimes best to hire a dispassionate third party)
posted by schmod at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2011

Becoming "unhinged and hysterical" (your words) is exactly what people not acting in a mature manner (my words) under pressure do. We are talking about the same thing here. Part of helping the OP deal with this is getting him to understand that he needs to get in control of his emotions, and the events surrounding the accident. It's not like "what to do after a car accident" is secret information. Beyond the number of times we've discussed it here, there is a myriad of other sources of info,all of which would tell to OP pretty much the same thing we are. I'm sympathetic, but sympathy isn't going to make his situation better. Him picking up the phone and making an appointment with an accident / personal injury attorney will though.
posted by COD at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2011

Anecdata: Car insurance companies regularly low ball on personal injury compensation. You should always ask for more than their first offer, and they'll come up with more. In my personal circle, it has worked 100% of the time.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:39 AM on February 25, 2011

On the ear injury thing, there's a chance you've just blown an eardrum. The twice I've done this there was about 2-3 months of horrid burbly/woozy/muffled sounds in that ear, which slowly got better. It was deeply nasty for the first month, but I soon got used to it, then it just got better of its own accord.
posted by scruss at 12:30 PM on February 25, 2011

Lawyer lawyer lawyer.

Even if this were a perfectly straightforward case where the liability was 150% obviously the other party's, having a lawyer is GOOD. A lawyer deals with this kind of thing all day, every day, and will know the process and how to negotiate it.

More importantly, a lawyer will know what questions to ask, while you don't. After I was injured due to somebody else's negligence (I was walking along a downtown sidewalk and they dropped a bookcase on my foot), my HMO filed a lien on anything I might recover from the other party. (My HMO paid to treat my injury, and if the person who caused the injury was going to pay up my HMO wanted their share.) My lawyer was able to get them to reduce the lien by half just by asking. Would I have even thought to ask about that? Nope. But he did, and it meant an extra $1,000 in my pocket.
posted by Lexica at 1:10 PM on February 25, 2011

yea. lawyer. Not really for the car, as i don't really think you are getting as screwed as it feels like. the car was worth 8k -12k to YOU, but noone else. I would doubt you are getting anywhere on that front as i think they are being pretty fair. There is the possiblity of asking for a settlement plus car and getting it fixed, but i would enlist a lawyer for that action.

The medical problem is another story. You need to get a clear answer on your hearing situation before you make any settlements on medical payments in this instance. If your hearing loss happens to be as serious as you suspect, you may be entitled to damages on top of medical services.

Not a lawyer, but did work in insurance once upon a time. I can offer this advice - when speaking with the insurance company, hysteria, paranoia, threats and freakouts get you the wrong kind of attention. If you start out your dealing with them from a bad place, you have nowhere to go when you really need to draw the line with them.
posted by domino at 2:16 PM on February 25, 2011

I agree with the lawyer lawyer lawyer advice.

However, In a similar circumstance I had the other guy's insurance tell me they wouldn't pay for a rental, on the phone the rep said "It is our policy to pay no more than three days.", to which I responded (having done easy research), "That's nice that you have a policy, it doesn't happen to correspond to Oregon Code XXX.XX, which states blah blah blah." He shut up and they paid for the rental for a couple more weeks with no more weaselling. Yes, a lawyer should do that for you, but it was really quite easy to do via simple Internet research.
posted by Invoke at 2:30 PM on February 25, 2011

I had a car get "totaled" once when it was worth around 4k and the only damage to it was to the side door panel. I really pushed and was eventually able to have the insurance company agree not to total it if the body shop would accept what they were willing to pay in return for repairing it to a fair standard. The title didn't reflect a totaled out or salvage car, and I had my car back (which then went on to have transmission issues and then throw a timing belt before it was done with me, but that's a whole different mess).
posted by bizzyb at 2:41 PM on February 25, 2011

Not about insurance, but: Try not to freak out too much about the hearing loss. I suffered a similar injury, and it took longer that I would have liked for my ear to get back to normal, but it eventually did. And it was indeed very unpleasant to listen to anything (music, movies, talking...) while the ear was all garbly/whistly/bad. I found wearing an earplug in that ear helped.
posted by chowflap at 2:54 PM on February 25, 2011

I feel for you, I was in an accident and it looked like just the quarter panel was damaged but the frame was damaged too. That made it too expensive to get fixed and might be why the repair cost is so high to fix yours. If it's just a damaged quarter panel, call around to price a used one. Then call body shops to price putting it on and painting it. It's almost always cheaper to find parts yourself. You don't get the body shop marking them up that way.

I'd think you could get a copy of the damage report from State Farm but I agree with everyone else to be very careful talking to them, the less, the better on your side. Don't ever tell them you might be uninsured. Someone I knew was in a wreck once and was uninsured and said the cop told him it was automatically his fault since he was driving illegally and shouldn't have been on the road in the first place. He might have gotten jerked but I'd still want to make sure of your state laws before letting an insurance company have any excuse to deny your claim.

I've also heard of having to restore a car to it's pre-loss condition but it was a long time ago, the guy was fighting with his own insurance company and was willing to fight it out. It would probably be worth your time to have a consult (hopefully you can find a free one)with a lawyer about this. I'd definitely lawyer up for the injury claim. Try to find a recommendation from someone you know to weed out the flaky ones.
posted by stray thoughts at 5:13 PM on February 25, 2011

I've never once heard of a turning accident in which one party was completely at fault and the other was completely faultless.

[raises hand]

I was in one a year ago. The vehicle attempted to take a turn by crossing an entire lane of traffic. The lane of traffic was the one I happened to be in. I didn't have to pay a cent.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:17 PM on February 25, 2011

naturally the insurance company is going to assign some of the liability to you. You have a duty to be aware of your surroundings and to take every possible step to avoid an accident. I've never once heard of a turning accident in which one party was completely at fault and the other was completely faultless

Yep I too have that same data point. What the filthy profit-mongering insurance companies "naturally" want to do might not have much bearing on actual fault. Of course those filthy scumbags will come up with self-serving arguments to reduce their payouts. That is their business; it's how they earn bonuses.

Here in B.C., where everyone is covered for their basic, legally-mandated insurance by the Provincial Crown Corporation, and all the money comes from the same pool, there is no incentive to further victimize the victims of negligent drivers; so turning left and causing an accident will almost always result in the left-turning vehicle being found at fault. The MVA states that left-turning vehicles may only do so when it is safe, an accident being pretty strong evidence that it wasn't, in fact, safe. Over my 40 year driving career I have had three accidents involving others turning left in front of me, (professional driver for many years), and in each case, the other driver was deemed 100% liable. So, take any suit telling you that are any way responsible with a huge grain of salt. These pricks lie for a living. This is just one of the many reasons you need a lawyer.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:38 PM on February 25, 2011

Response by poster: Ok I am just getting back to this askme and I am grateful for the responses. Well, for most of them. This being the internet and all, I know I should expect some nasty comments about how I am "unhinged and hysterical" but after rereading my OP (which I thought was calm and rational under the circumstances) I cannot see why anyone would gratuitously add insult to injury by making such comments. I thought MeFi was better than this.

Given the response here, and legal ramifications of the extremely unlikely chance that State Farm would discover this post, I should say nothing further. To those who offered useful suggestions, I will act on them immediately (well, on Monday). To those who wish to render further assistance, you can probably guess the useful, practical tips from this thread that I am following up on, feel free to contact me via Mefi Mail if you have anything further to add.

And to the schmucks and schmods who felt it necessary to be an asshole, even to note that they probably should NOT be acting like an asshole but would do so anyway, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:22 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

For whatever it's worth, I'm sorry for hurting your feelings. The $700 number that I alluded to was in reference to your car's $5,310 Kelly Blue Book suggested retail value, subtracted from State Farm's proposed $6,010 payout. which I forgot to mention in my comment.
posted by schmod at 9:02 PM on February 25, 2011

Mod note: Comment removed. You do not have to like the answers you get, but you cannot be a jerk about it, period.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:32 PM on February 25, 2011

Your state has an Attorney General, with a website, and an Insurance Commission. They know the laws of your state. State Farm may prefer not to negotiate, but they have to follow the laws.
posted by theora55 at 5:57 AM on February 26, 2011

I've never once heard of a turning accident in which one party was completely at fault and the other was completely faultless.

It happens. I was doored when a passenger opened her door into the bicycle lane. Interestingly, the car was fully in the driving lane, stopped behind a few cars at an intersection, and not pulled over into the bicycle lane — I had no inkling of what was coming.

People do random, inexplicable stuff when they are in the safe confines of an automobile. So lawyer up, give your deposition, and let the law-talking people haggle over the dollars until you reach mutual satisfaction.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:55 PM on February 28, 2011

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