I was in a car accident a couple weeks ago
which involved two other cars and I'm currently in a disagreement with my
insurance company regarding my liability in the accident. Hoping to get some
advice from this forum.
To set the scene, it was about 2am so traffic
was pretty non-existent. I was traveling on an arterial behind a minivan and we
were both going 30mph. I was following at what I believed to be a safe
distance, about 2.5-3 car lengths behind when an SUV crossed over the middle
turn lane from the oncoming lane as it was about to pass by the minivan. The
SUV hit the minivan not quite head on, but at more of a diagonal, right between
the driver door and driver-side headlight. Both cars obviously came to an
immediate stop due to the impact and I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting
the minivan from behind, but didn't quite have enough time/space so I did hit
their rear bumper at a relatively slow speed. The impact between the SUV and
minivan was strong enough to have their airbags deploy, but the damage to my
car and the rear of the minivan is pretty much a fender bender.
The police came and took statements and the
officer who took mine indicated that rear-end collisions are almost always the
fault of rear car (which I'm fully aware of), but he told me that I would
likely not be liable for the rear-end collision in this case due to
After finally getting the police report, I've
discovered that the SUV driver was arrested for a DUI and admitted at the scene
that he had been looking at his phone just prior to the impact. Unfortunately,
it doesn't say anything regarding fault for any part of the accident, including
mine. I was hoping the statement of "unusual circumstances" which the
officer told me at the scene would make it in there, but it didn't.
Now for my insurance's position: they are
saying that I'm at fault for the damage caused to the rear of the minivan since
I was clearly was following too closely/ going too fast and should have been
able to avoid the accident if I wasn't. Their rationale is this is no different
than if an animal had run out in the road and the minivan had to slam on their
brakes and I didn't have time to fully stop my car before hitting them. I'm
arguing that this is a false equivalence since the minivan's
"braking" distance in the actual accident was 0ft, and if they had
slammed on their their bakes to stop for an animal, it would take them (or any
average car) about 45ft to completely stop from 30mph.
Since the damage to my car and the rear of the
minivan is so minimal, especially compared to the minivan's impact with the
SUV, I'm arguing that no reasonable person would have been able to stop in my
situation. The minimal damage from my impact suggests I was almost able to
avoid the collision in spite of the minivan's immediate stop and that I,
hypothetically, would have been able to avoid it completely had the minivan
applied its brakes in an emergency response to an obstruction in the road.
Sorry for the wall of text, but I'd like any
input on whether I'm being reasonable or not and if I am, how to proceed with
my insurance company.