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  1. #1
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    Car accident, other driver's insurance won't pay

    What is the name of your state? IL

    I had a car accident a month ago at an intersection. I was driving west bound and the other driver was in the opposite direction (east bound) waiting at the left-turning lane at the intersection. I had green light all the way. When I was already close in at the intersection, the other driver made a sudden left turn. I was totally unprepared. Honked and braked, but it was too close. She didn't make it. Both cars were damaged. Mine was mostly totalled. A witness was driving right behind me and kindly stayed until the cops came. The other driver told a lie to the police officer by saying the traffic signal was yellow turning red, but both I and the witness confirmed it was green light. A ticket was issued to the other driver.

    I don't have collision coverage with my insurance (State Farm), only liability. The other driver's insurance company is a substandard insurance, hard to deal with. When the other driver reported the accident to her insurance, she again told the same story (yellow turning red). So her insurance denied my claim, saying I was running under a red light.

    Somehow the police report didn't contain the witness statement. After talking to the police officer over the phone, he sent me a short letter saying that the witness said it was a green light, and that he determined the other driver was at fault. But the insurance company still won't listen.

    Now that insurance company is blaming me 100% responsible, and threatened to sue me unless I pay their client's car damage within 30 days. I contacted my insurance company yesterday, but not sure what they'll do.

    In any case, I don't expect my insurance will do anything to recover my loss. Do I have to bring this to a small claims court? Would the police officer's letter be enough as my evidence? I tried to contact the witness but she didn't respond so far.

    I have been talking to the other driver's insurance during the past month but I don't see I'll get anything from them. Is there anything else I can do other than sending a final demand letter to the other driver and bring this to the small claims court?

    I complained this to the dept. of insurance of IL becaues the insurance company refused my request for them to talk to either the witness or the police officer, but that turned out useless. It's a big stress & hassle. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Last edited by johnq; 07-28-2007 at 08:35 PM.
  2. #2
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Sue the other driver in small claims court. Make sure the witness can be there with you to testify. If there was a witness and the insurance company refuses to get a statement from the witness, they're a bunch of idiots. If you win, the insurance company will have an obligation to pay you on behalf of their insured.
  3. #3
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    ecmst12, thanks for the response. I tried to contact the witness for a statement because the police officer later suggested me to do so, but the witness didn't respond for quite a while now. The witness is a 60 yo lady, and I'm concerned that she might want to avoid the hassle and not to testify.

    The other insurance company, on the other hand, in the letter to the Dept. of Insurance IL, said "There are no independent witnesses and this is a case of word v. word". I don't know why they said that as the witness contact info. was clearly listed in the police report, only the witness statement was missing there - and that's why I asked the cop to wrote me a separate letter describing what the witness told him at the day of accident.

    Not sure about my chance of winning the case if the witness doesn't testify and I only have the police officer's letter for proof..
  4. #4
    moburkes is offline Senior Member
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    At this point, if you lose, you will be out the filing fee. If you win, your vehicle will be repaired, and your filing fee reimbursed.
    My new signature:
    Originally Posted by arazi
    I'll take you on one-to-one in a volcabulary test anywhere, anyplace, anytime.
  5. #5
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Are you sure that the insurance company didn't ATTEMPT to contact the witness unsuccessfully as you have been? If they can't get a statement from her, then it won't enter into their investigation. The letter from the police officer is hearsay.
  6. #6
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    Yes, it's very possible the other insurance company attempted to contact the witness but either didn't get hold of her, or didn't get any statement from her. What does this imply? If the police letter is hearsay, then does it mean it won't help too much in a small claims court? In any case, it seems the witness statement is extremely important. I just don't know what to do if she decides not to be invovled in this any more..
  7. #7
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    If the witness won't help you, you're kind of screwed. The letter is worthless in court.
  8. #8
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    I do have some questions and hopefully somebody could provide some insights:

    1) If I manage to get a signed witness statement indicating it was a green light, would it helpful at the court - assuming the witness won't testify?

    2) If I decide to sue the other driver at a small claims court, then there will be 2 courts I'll need to appear: the 1st would be the police officer vs. the other driver because she got a ticket and I'm a witness. The 2nd would be me vs. the other driver at the small claims court. If the witness won't testify in either of them, then the only thing I have might be the witness statement. If by any chance the witness will only be willing to testify in one court hearing, then which one would be more important? It seems to me the 2nd court hearing is more important to me. Is it a good idea if I simply present the witness statement in the 1st court hearing, and bring the witness to the 2nd (the small claims court)?

    3) What's going to happen if the judge at the 1st court dismissed the case because of the absence of the witness (i.e. the witness statement still couldn't convince the judge that the other driver was at fault)? How would it impact my small claims suit in the 2nd court with or without the witness appearing at the 2nd court?
  9. #9
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    I don't know why you think you have anything to do with the hearing for him fighting his traffic ticket. Unless they subpeonaed you, and I can't imagine they would for traffic court, there is no reason for you to appear.

    I don't think a statement will do you any good. She'd have to appear. The statement would be, like I said, hearsay and inadmissible. If the witness won't appear, and there's no other objective evidence, then the judge will have to rule in favor of the defendant, since the burden of proof is on you.
  10. #10
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    I did receive a letter from the court clerk that I'm requested to appear in the 1st court (traffic ticket) as a witness. Otherwise, "the case may be dismissed", as the letter say. If the case is dismissed, then doesn't that mean the other driver wasn't at fault? Wouldn't that impact my small claims suit?
  11. #11
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    No, it wouldn't really affect your case, but if they asked you to appear then it wouldn't be a bad idea.
  12. #12
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    One question: if I have to write a demand letter, to whom this letter should be addressed? To the insurance company, or to the other driver? I understand the law suit would be against the other driver, not the insurance company.
  13. #13
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    You can address it to the driver in care of his insurance company and send it to the insurance company address.
  14. #14
    johnq is offline Junior Member
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    I had this accident about 6 months ago. Since the other driver's insurance won't pay, and I didn't have collision coverage with my own insurance, I had to bring the case to a small claim's court by myself. The other insurance also counter-sued me so my insurance (State Farm) was involved because I did have liability coverage with them. Now after 6 months the case is still pending. I'm thinking about switching to a different insurance company (have been with State Farm for 7 years). If I switch, State Farm would still be obliged to handle the counter-suing case for the accident happened 6 months ago, wouldn't it? Just want to make sure I'm covered if I switch insurance company.
    Last edited by johnq; 01-19-2008 at 11:39 AM.
  15. #15
    moburkes is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnq View Post
    If I switch, State Farm would still be obliged to handle the counter-suing case for the accident happened 6 months ago, wouldn't it? Just want to make sure I'm covered if I switch insurance company.
    Yes, they would.
    My new signature:
    Originally Posted by arazi
    I'll take you on one-to-one in a volcabulary test anywhere, anyplace, anytime.

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