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auto accident insurance report question

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velive

New member
What is the name of your state?California

While driving on 101 I was involved in an accident. Traffic was very congested, and I was either barely moving forward or moving forward very slowly. A driver to the right of me swerved sharply into my lane, so that the left side of his car scraped against the right front side of mine. The paint got scraped off, the light casing got scratched, and some kind of rubber (?) flap located in front of the wheel also got damaged. Looking at his car after we parked I saw a long line along the side of his car. I believe that shows his car collided with mine and he just kept driving forward.

When we stopped I asked him, "Didn't you see me?" (because I am pretty sure I must have been in his blind spot, and he did not look carefully before changing lanes). However he did not answer this question but instead said "I put my turn signal on, and I thought you saw me." When I thought about this afterwards I realized I didn't make sense. There is no way I would have been able to see his turn signal because he was not actually in front of me. His car could only have been about half way in front of mine, so I would have had no way to see his signal.

What i remember most clearly is how suddenly it happened and how sharply he seemed to swerve into my lane. I called the police immediately to get a report but the police man who arrived discouraged me from getting report, saying when there is no injury they usually don't do a report. The other driver said it was just some paint scraped off our cars, no big deal, and told me he did not intend to report the accident to his insurance because it would raise his rates and asked if I intended to report it.

Right now I am trying to figure out what to do. I do not feel I was at fault in this accident, so my first impulse is to report it to the insurance, so I am not left to pay for the damages he caused to my car. However, I do not know how fault is actually determined in a case like this. I also do not want to risk having my insurance rates raised because in that case it would probably end up being cheaper for me to just repair the damages at my own expense.

What I mainly want to know is from the collision I described is anyone able to tell me who the insurance company is likely to determine to be at fault here, or would it just be classed as shared liability, which I am assuming would also lead to a raise in my insurance rates.

I strongly feel I am not at fault but I realize I could be mistaken because I really do not know how the assessors determine this, and obviously I also don't have any way to prove that he is the one who collided with me. I am guessing that the long line along the side of his car and the more confined damage to the front side of my car does indicate it is his car that was the one moving against mine - but I still do not know if that actually means the assessors would determine in my favor?

Should I report this accident to my insurance company and risk getting my rates raised, or just swallow the cost and get the repairs done at my own expense?

Thanks for your help and feedback.
 


HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
You are placing way too much importance on a police accident report. Unless the officer witnessed the accident it doesn't really mean much. Although I strongly disagree with the police trying to discourage people from having a report done at the scene.

Yes, you should report it to your insurance company because it's possible that the other driver will report it, despite what he says.

Without a witness and without further information it would be likely to be deemed 50-50 as far as fault goes. Keep in mind that people are not honest and it is just as likely that the other driver would lie and say you struck him by changing lanes.
 

FlyingRon

Senior Member
As far as the rates go, the insurance company is very much going to be swayed by whether they have to pay out or whether they feel they can subrogate against the other driver. There's no statutory rate determination in California, you'll have to review your insurer's policies.

Note that if there was more than $1000 damage combined between the two of you (which pretty much is any body damage at all these days), you're still obliged to report it to the STATE. The fact that the police made a report doesn't eliminate that obligation.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
If this occurred on Hwy 101, then the officer that responded would have been CHP. In CA law enforcement is not required to take non-injury collision reports absent some very specific circumstances, and most agencies - including the CHP - will not. Some policies outright prohibit it as it would unduly occupy officers with report writing for what is, essentially, merely the gathering of information for an insurance company.

I would suspect that in an incident like this the insurance companies would apportion fault about evenly. Whether your rates might go up might depend upon your company and their policies.

Whether or not you tell your insurance company is your decision. However, if the other driver makes a claim to your company, that cat will be out of the bag anyway. Also, if the damages are over $1,000 (and they very likely are), then CA law mandates you report it to the DMV.

 

CdwJava

Senior Member
Although I strongly disagree with the police trying to discourage people from having a report done at the scene.
In CA he would not have been required to take a report, and since he was likely CHP, their practice is to NOT take non-injury collisions absent certain extraordinary circumstances. So long as the parties had requisite paperwork and were not impaired, they wouldn't usually take the report - they would only facilitate the exchange of information as required under the law. Some agencies here prohibit their officers from taking non-injury collisions unless some very specific exigent circumstances are met. Due to dwindling resources, there are very few agencies today that will still take a report for most any collision.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
In CA he would not have been required to take a report, and since he was likely CHP, their practice is to NOT take non-injury collisions absent certain extraordinary circumstances. So long as the parties had requisite paperwork and were not impaired, they wouldn't usually take the report - they would only facilitate the exchange of information as required under the law. Some agencies here prohibit their officers from taking non-injury collisions unless some very specific exigent circumstances are met. Due to dwindling resources, there are very few agencies today that will still take a report for most any collision.
Understood and it's not a requirement here either.

However, we've had instances where those involved in collisions falsely claimed that there were additional occupants in their vehicle as part of an insurance fraud scam. Because of things like that I never hesitate to prepare, and even encourage preparation of, a PAR (police accident report).

It's basically a 10 minute job to gather the information. The reports themselves can be done later in the shift during down-time, or even the following day. Although I certainly see how doing 20 a day can be troublesome, time-wise.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
Unfortunately, as resources have dropped off precipitously, agencies here have had to cease a great number of services - reports for non-injury collisions, traffic enforcement, on-line reporting for thefts and burglaries without suspect info, etc. In the larger cities, you may not see a sworn officer at all for a report and if you do it might be a few hours. While there are valid reasons to take non-injury collisions, since they are not reported to SWITRS at the state level and are not useful for grants related to traffic offense enforcement, there is no incentive to engage in activity that occupies officers and costs an agency money with no discernible gain. Heck, if we're not investigating many misdemeanor crimes (lord knows we're not prosecuting many of them and releasing felons), there is little justification for a report that has no discernible value to the agency or the local jurisdiction.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
When I was hit in 2017 (an accident I have previously discussed on this forum), the CHP responded and took a report - it was a non-injury collision and on a city street (although I'm sure that had some sort of MOA to deal with matters in this location). In my case, the report was key, as the other driver was truthful to the CHP officer about his actions that caused the accident and later lied to his own insurance company.
 

velive

New member
Thanks to everyone who has replied.

What you told me about the police report was very informative. Good to know for the future.

After posting this I began to do a little research on the net and everything I read said that in a lane change accident the person changing lanes is 100% at fault.

For example : [link removed]

However there seems to be some agreement here that they are likely to assign 50/50 blame in this situation. Why? Is this because there were no eye witnesses to confirm what happened? Or are respondents assuming the driver changing lanes will lie about having been the one to switch and there is no way for the assessors to verify it?

If 50/50 blame is assed does this mean his insurance won't be responsible for the repair costs to my car and my insurance rates will likely rise?


I did take a picture of the damage to both his car and my car after the accident. so I have a picture of the line running along the side of his car where it scraped against mine. Would these pictures help me establish fault?

Thanks again!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I did take a picture of the damage to both his car and my car after the accident. so I have a picture of the line running along the side of his car where it scraped against mine. Would these pictures help me establish fault?
Those pictures really mean nothing. The line could just have easily been caused by you scraping against him.

It will be 50/50 if each of you has a different story and there is no corroborating evidence. This is an excellent example of why a dash cam is a great investment. Even if it didn't show the other vehicle, it would show that you never deviated from your lane.

Oh, and as a comment about the other driver's signal...my car has signals on the mirror that allows my signaling to be seen no matter where you are. (Not that it matters; I just wanted to throw that out there.)
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
The assumption is that the other driver will lie to his own insurance company to save his own skin. Once in a while I've been surprised when the other party has admitted fault, but I was just involved in a collision about a month ago where the other party was an NYPD sergeant off-duty. She made a right on red and drove into me. I had a steady green light.

She lied to her insurance company and said that SHE had the green light. It's certainly not fair but there is no other way for insurance companies to know what really happened without a witness - or video. I subsequently bought and use a dash cam. Hopefully I won't need it but for 40 bucks it's cheap insurance. If I had had it prior to the accident it would have saved me 30% fault and about $600.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Those pictures really mean nothing. The line could just have easily been caused by you scraping against him.

It will be 50/50 if each of you has a different story and there is no corroborating evidence. This is an excellent example of why a dash cam is a great investment. Even if it didn't show the other vehicle, it would show that you never deviated from your lane.

Oh, and as a comment about the other driver's signal...my car has signals on the mirror that allows my signaling to be seen no matter where you are. (Not that it matters; I just wanted to throw that out there.)
And of course, if you are already next to the car signaling... just because you can see them signally doesn't mean it's possible to avoid them.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
And of course, if you are already next to the car signaling... just because you can see them signally doesn't mean it's possible to avoid them.
I absolutely agree and wasn't trying to imply otherwise.. I'm simply pointing out that a signal can be seen from the side of some vehicles.
 

Shadowbunny

Queen of the Not-Rights
The assumption is that the other driver will lie to his own insurance company to save his own skin.
Years ago, when I was still in grad school, I was in an accident that was absolutely my fault. When the insurance company called me, I told them what I had done (pulled out before making sure it was clear). The agent was dumbfounded -- my story and the other driver's story matched up. I didn't know then that it's more usual for people to lie, even when there's no excusing what they did. Oh-so-many-years-later and I'm far more jaded realistic about human's natural proclivity to save one's behind.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
Oh-so-many-years-later and I'm far more jaded realistic about human's natural proclivity to save one's behind.
About 10 years ago I was at a self-service car wash and the lane I was in seemed to have a non-functioning credit card reader. I was already in a pissed off mood and that made it worse. I decided to try the next lane over and just backed up without looking thinking I was the only one there. Boom, I hit a car behind me.

The other driver was surprised when I told her I was telling my insurance company that I backed into her. But hey, I effed up and admitted it. I could have easily said she rear-ended me - there were no cameras there. But I wouldn't be able to live with myself like that. I wish everyone was like that.
 
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