As I continue with the story of my wife’s brain I want to address something that has come up a few times in the comments section of the previous post regarding the accident, our attorney, and the arbitration hearing.
On the night of the accident, police responded to the call, and assisted in directing traffic in order for Kristin to turn her car around because the impact had caused her to spin 180 degrees. Once she cleared the intersection, the officer indicted that an accident report wasn’t necessary because no one needed immediate medical care and both parties agreed to exchange insurance information. Unfortunately this left her without an objective report and no documented witnesses. As a result, when it came time to report the facts to the adjustors it became her word against his.
For reasons still unknown to us, his company denied all responsibility for the accident so the case was sent to an third party arbitrator to determine the level of fault. This is common practice in Minnesota when the two parties disagree. At the same time we had contacted an attorney, as a safeguard, in the event we needed one, but at the time we had no plans to move forward with litigation. The attorney indicated that we should wait for the results of the arbitration between the insurance companies before moving ahead with any legal action. Again, common practice.
When the arbitrator came back with an 80-20 judgement in his favor, our insurance company was bound by that decision, and therefore was unwilling to pay for anything beyond what is provided by our no fault coverage ($20,000). They also refused to refund our $500 deductible on the car repairs. Since the decision was so lopsided against us, and we were facing a fairly uncertain medical future, the attorney stated that it would be nearly impossible to make any claim against the other driver or his insurance company. He advised us against proceeding with legal action, which at the time was a wise decision.
I think it will become clear as we move forward with the story, that our attorney is perhaps one of the few reliable people in our corner and has since reopened the case. For the last few days Kristin and I have been reviewing a memorandum written by him detailing the facts of our case and outlining our claim against the other driver, his insurance company and ours. In fact he has indicated several times that he is willing to file suit if need be. And no, Nikki, we are not paying him a dime unless we receive a settlement.
So the lessons thus far are:
*Always call the police and be sure they file an accident report. It is essential that the facts are documented at the time of the accident, because, as I think is the case with the other driver, memories change over time. Also, be sure you have witnesses.
* Never admit any responsibility, even if it is your fault, when talking to the other party or their insurance company. Kristin and I have disagreed on this and had many “discussions” about it at the time. She is a decent, reasoned and rational person, who tries to see things from the most objective perspective. And unfortunately that is simply not the way the insurance game works. I believe, in her attempted to find the truest understanding of the facts she may have given away something that led the other insurance company, and subsequently the arbitrator, to rule against us.
Finally, I want to say thanks for the kindness and support you have shown, through your comments and simply by reading these posts. I welcome the questions as well. I am finding that the more I tell this tale the more there is to tell and I inadvertently leave out essential pieces. So please ask away.