Can you dispute an insurance company’s liability determination?
Yes, absolutely! Over the last five years many insurance companies have started to assess liability incorrectly. Geico, Progressive, Allstate, Farmers, almost every insurance company now uses this tactic to save the company money and defend claims.
Many adjusters are actually instructed by management to assign some “comparative negligence” to a certain percentage of their files. Essentially, this means they are instructed to blame you for the accident even when it is not your fault.
Many times, even in a straightforward “failure to yield the right of way” automobile accident, the insurance adjuster will try to claim you were traveling too fast or didn’t keep a “proper lookout.” These are absolutely bull@$%^ theories of negligence.
So why do insurance companies do this? They do this because many people just give up and accept their bull$@# assessment of liability. Do not give up-let us fight back for you. I have represented many clients who contact me when insurance companies assign them with 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% liability because of unexplainable reasons. Adjusters stand firm with their assessments until an attorney gets involved. I have successfully fought these assessments and obtained 100% compensation for my clients.
So, how do we get around and solve this problem? We file lawsuits and fight back. We are not required to accept the insurance companies’ decision on liability (who is at fault for the accident). Ultimately, they do not get to make that decision. They can try, but ultimately a judge, jury or arbitrator can decide this important question. If the facts are on our side, the case law is also on our side.
Here is just one example:
You are driving down the street and a car pulls out in front of you causing an accident. The car that pulled out in front of you was on a side street and you have the right of way. The insurance company claims you were driving too fast and could have avoided the collision if you were driving the speed limit or were keeping a proper lookout. They value your vehicle at $20,000.00, but offer you only 60% of the value of your car ($12,000.00) because they believe you are 40% at-fault for the accident. Now, you are either stuck accepting this offer or contacting an attorney. Here is what the insurance company does not tell you…
Your speed-how would they prove how fast you were traveling at the time of the accident? They have no radar or laser calibrated evidence of your speed. The insurance company is guessing-speculation is not evidence and would not be admissible.
Further, and the most important, Washington State case law is not on their side, but insurance companies love to ignore the actual law-you know, that pesky thing that gets in the way of trying to just make stuff up as you go. Here is a quote I have used many, many times to fight for my clients.
“A driver must yield to an oncoming vehicle even if it can be shown that the oncoming vehicle was proceeding unlawfully.” State v. Carty, 27 Wash.App. 715, 620 P.2d 137 (1980).
So, EVEN IF the insurance company had admissible evidence you were going over the speed limit, their driver has a duty to yield the right of way and proceeding unlawfully is irrelevant.
In the end, insurance adjusters who make these decisions on liability will not change their mind unless you fight back. Altman Law Offices will fight back on these issues and make sure you get fully compensated for your property damage, personal injury and receive just and fair compensation.
If you have questions or want to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, please feel free to contact us at (360) 377-7100 or (253) 761-1000. Or, you can email the office directly at email@example.com.