How do I prove I'm at least as not at fault as the other guy?
August 6, 2012 6:43 AM   Subscribe

On Friday morning I was in what I consider to be a no-fault fender bender, but Illinois isn't a no-fault state. The other party has already contacted my insurance; I'm not sure what I should be doing to best protect myself. Details inside.

While on a road trip, my 2 passengers and I stopped at a grocery store to grab supplies. We got in the car, I started to back up and immediately stopped because a pedestrian walked behind me. I checked behind me, checked to my left side to make sure other pedestrians weren't coming, checked my mirrors and began to back out. Another driver backed out at the same time and we collided at the literal midpoint of the lane (exactly on the tip of the directional arrow in the parking lot lane). I drive an SUV, he was driving a Mercedes, the corner of my rear driver's side bumper hit the corner of his rear passenger bumper. My bumper has a spiderweb crack; his taillight was broken and bumper dented.

The police were called, but since it's private property they stated they wouldn't determine fault. The other driver has already filed a claim with my insurance, claiming that it was my fault. I don't know how he could possibly claim that, given he backed into me at least as much as the reverse.


1) Is there anything in particular I should be doing or saying to make it clear that this was not my fault?
2) Should I file a claim on his insurance even though there wasn't significant damage to my vehicle? As in, should I be doing this just to make it more emphatic that I don't believe I'm at fault?
3) One of my passengers was in line behind the other driver at the store, and said he overheard the driver say that he'd recently had eye surgery and was having a hard time seeing the signature line on his receipt. Should I be stating this in the police report I have to file and to our insurances? It's hearsay, but also, dude did seem to have some bad eyes.

Ultimately, I don't want to win so much as I don't want to lose. Thanks for your help, especially since yanml.
posted by ictow to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you talked to your insurance company? I would ask them these questions.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:46 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

File a claim with YOUR insurance, they'll do the rest of the work for you. You'll tell them what happened and they'll run with it from there.

In the future, when backing out, physically turn your body and keep turned during the reversing.

Shit happens, no sense in getting all burned up about it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:51 AM on August 6, 2012

"No fault" doesn't refer to who is at fault in a particular accident; it means that each driver is responsible for carrying collision coverage (or not) on their own car. That is, if you choose not to carry collision coverage on your own car in a no-fault state (I live in one; maybe it's a little different elsewhere), the damage will not be covered even if the other driver is not at fault. Here in Michigan, the other driver's insurance company is limited to paying out a $500 payment known as a "mini-tort."

That said, when I was in exactly that kind of fender-bender a couple of years ago, my insurance company had no problem believing me when I told them the truth. They also advised me about the rest--for instance, even though the damage looked so superficial to me that I wouldn't have bothered fixing it, they asked me to get it checked by a body shop and covered the repairs. So, although I don't have a good understanding of insurance in non-no-fault states, I'd second the advice to call your insurance company with these questions.
posted by not that girl at 6:55 AM on August 6, 2012

That should say, "If you don't carry collision on your car, damage won't be covered even if the other driver IS at fault." *sigh*
posted by not that girl at 6:56 AM on August 6, 2012

Poor form on his part. You call your insurance company, he calls his insurance company, and the two figure it out. Typically, in those cases, you would get a call requesting a short recorded interview where you would state the facts. Sometimes both insurance companies will do this, sometimes not. Then they figure it out.

If you have insurance, there is absolutely no reason for you to worry about any of this. Unless one person is paying the other out of pocket to avoid insurance inquiry, you should let the insurance company do all the work. They'll negotiate which person's policy pays what.
posted by mikeh at 7:16 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it's in your better interest to deal with your own insurance company. Your insurer should have a 24/7 claims line that you might want to call today. That way, the adjuster can call you on the following business day.

Calling your insurer won't make you any more or less at fault for the accident. If you choose not to call your insurer then it might seem suspicious. I also think it's in your contract which should state that you are required to at least call your insurer to notify them of any accidents even if you choose not to file a claim.

Adjusters have fault determination rules/guidelines that they have to follow which will help determine who was at fault for the accident. Stick to the facts when talking to the adjuster. You would simply say that the two of you (yourself-the insured and the other driver-the third party) were backing out of your parking spots at the same time which is when your vehicles collided at the midpoint of the parking spot lane.

When you talk to the customer service rep that takes your claim/record, you can ask them to make note of his recent eye surgery and what seems to be poor eyesight. Although, from my understanding this won't change much because adjusters just want the facts when it comes to the accident details.
posted by livinglearning at 7:35 AM on August 6, 2012

Thanks everybody! Since he had already called MY insurance within 20 minutes of the accident, I've already been in contact with them. I'll check back in to make sure nothing else needs to be done; I just didn't know quite what to do since he called mine instead of his own.
posted by ictow at 7:50 AM on August 6, 2012

#3 is going to be key. Otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised if they deem a parking lot bender like this to be 50/50 responsibility.
posted by rhizome at 10:08 AM on August 6, 2012

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